: : : Henry V

Story

Very few films come close to the brilliance Kenneth Branagh achieved with his first foray into screenwriting and direction. Henry V qualifies as a masterpiece, the kind of film that comes along once in a decade. He eschews the theatricality of Laurence Olivier's stirring, fondly remembered 1945 adaptation to establish his own rules. Branagh plays it down and dirty, seeing the bard's play through revisionist eyes, framing it as an antiwar story. Branagh gives us harsh close-ups of muddied, bloody men, and close-ups of himself as Henry, his hardened mouth and willful eyes revealing much about this land war. Not that the director-star doesn't provide lighter moments. His scenes introducing the French Princess Katherine (Emma Thompson) are toothsome. Bubbly, funny, enhanced by lovely lighting and Thompson's pale beauty, these glimpses of a princess trying to learn English quickly from her maid are delightful.

What may be the crowning glory of Branagh's adaptation comes when the dazed, shaky leader wanders through battlefields, not even sure who has won. As King Hal carries a dead boy (Empire of the Sun's Christian Bale) over the hacked-up bodies of both the English and French, you realize it is the first time Branagh has opened up the scenes: a panorama of blood and mud and death. It is as strong a statement against warmongering as could ever be made. --Rochelle O'Gorman

DVD Features

  • Color
  • Widescreen

Cast

Derek JacobiChorus
Kenneth BranaghKing Henry V
Simon ShepherdDuke Humphrey of Gloucester
James LarkinDuke John of Bedford
Brian BlessedDuke Thomas Beaufort of Exeter
Paul GregoryWestmoreland
Alec McCowenBishop of Ely
Ian HolmCaptain Fluellen
John SessionsMacmorris
Patrick DoyleCourt
Richard BriersLieutenant Bardolph
Robert StephensAuncient Pistol
Robbie ColtraneSir John Falstaff
Christian BaleRobin the Luggage-Boy
Geraldine McEwanAlice
Judi DenchMistress Nell Quickly
Paul ScofieldKing Charles VI of France
Emma ThompsonPrincess Katherine de Valois

  • Genre: Drama Movies
  • Director: Kenneth Branagh
  • Producer: MGM/UA
  • Length: 137 min
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
  • Theatrical Release
    North AmericaNov 8, 1989
  • Ratings
    North AmericaPG-13
    EuropePG
    AustraliaPG
  • DVD Release
    North AmericaJul 18, 2000
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