"Men of few words are the best men.”
~ William Shakespeare, King Henry V, Act III, Scene 2
I was in Austin for a long weekend with an old friend, nothing planned, anything possible, making snap decisions about where to eat, what to do, where to go. And so we were late, rushing from that place to this, parking in a far lot and running to buy the movie tickets. No time for popcorn. We shove open the door to the theater to enter complete blackness. The previews are over and the lights have just gone down as we stumble into a row, stepping on feet and over knees, dropping into two empty seats—some kind of miracle in the dark of that theater—we giggle, someone shushes us—and then, on the screen, the sound of a match being struck and Derek Jacobi’s handsome face lit only by a the flicker of a small flame.
This is my favorite movie prolog—that darkness, that match, that Shakespearean actor. I had seen him in a BBC production of Hamlet when he was much younger. I sat entranced. I had never read this play, had never seen it done, and within minutes I had forgotten about popcorn. I let my breathing slow, and I was gone into that world where nothing exists but a story well told.
I couldn’t tell you one thing about the play now, except that I learned how to pronounce Agincourt (not AGAIN-court but AH-jin-cour). I can’t give you a 15-second plot summary because I don’t know the plot, could barely follow the action as I watched the movie almost 25 years ago, but it doesn’t matter. I loved it then and still remember it with a sense of awe. I’d watch it again, and again breathe in the language and finish the film completely sated. I’m not kidding.
Food for the soul.
Hyperbole be damned.