Henry V
Henry V

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Certificate: PG | Released: 1989 | Duration: 2 hrs 11 mins | Director: Kenneth Branagh | Studio: Universal Pictures UK | Genres: Drama

Kenneth Branagh makes his directorial debut and also plays the title role in HENRY V, an ambitious film that began a resurgence of interest in films of Shakespeare's plays. Henry is a young king seeking a way to make his mark on history. He gets his chance when he learns he can make a legal claim to the throne of France. He does, and arrives in France with a small army that soon meets with violent resistance from the French. The film follows Henry and his men through the brutality of 15th-century warfare as the ragtag band ... (Full plot summary below)

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Kenneth Branagh makes his directorial debut and also plays the title role in HENRY V, an ambitious film that began a resurgence of interest in films of Shakespeare's plays. Henry is a young king seeking a way to make his mark on history. He gets his chance when he learns he can make a legal claim to the throne of France. He does, and arrives in France with a small army that soon meets with violent resistance from the French. The film follows Henry and his men through the brutality of 15th-century warfare as the ragtag band confronts heavy opposition and their own destinies on a rainy French battlefield. The film expertly balances the thrilling heroics of the battle sequences with the painful and complex reactions of men who are sometimes unsure of the justice of their cause. True to Shakespeare's original text, an unnamed Chorus (Derek Jacobi) appears periodically, filling in details and offering a running commentary on the action. Featuring a cast that includes Ian Holm, Paul Scofield, Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, Robbie Coltrane, Christian Bale and many other screen stars, HENRY V is a rousing, fascinating film about the power of courage and the price of glory.

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Movie Reviews

USA Today - 8.8/10 by David Patrick Stearns Henry V emerges a first-class epic film, so entertaining that it needs no apologies for being based on a 400-year-old play. [10 Nov 1989]
Variety - 8.0/10 by Staff (Not Credited) Henry V is a stirring, gritty and enjoyable pic which offers a plethora of fine performances from some of the U.K.'s brightest talents.
Chicago Reader - 8.0/10 by Jonathan Rosenbaum The cast - including Derek Jacobi as the modern-dress chorus, Paul Scofield, Judi Dench, Ian Holm, Emma Thompson, and Robbie Coltrane in an effective cameo as Falstaff - is uniformly fine without any grandstanding.
Time - 9.0/10 by Richard Corliss Big and pretty, vigorous, thoughtful, this Hamlet expands the story with helpful flashbacks.
San Francisco Chronicle - 10.0/10 by Judy Stone [Branagh] shows an understanding of the medium worthy of a veteran, and an intuitive grasp of how to make Henry V not only comprehensible, but compelling for contemporary audiences. [13 Dec 1989]
Wall Street Journal - 8.0/10 by Julie Salamon As director, Mr. Branagh and his cameraman have chosen to shoot his film tight and drab, a style that allows the actors to speak the poetry without affect. Nothing's prettified. [09 Nov 1989]
Chicago Sun-Times - 8.8/10 by Roger Ebert What works best in the film is the over-all vision. Branagh is able to see himself as a king, and so we can see him as one.
The New York Times - 8.0/10 by Vincent Canby Mr. Branagh has made a fine, rousing new English film adaptation of Shakespeare's ''Henry V,'' a movie that need not apologize to Laurence Olivier's 1944 classic.

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