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Henry V

4.5 out of 5 stars 310 customer reviews

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(Jul 18, 2000)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

He ruled a massive empire...and fought a mighty war! Kenneth Branagh, Paul Scofield, Derek Jacobi, Ian Holm, Emma Thompson and Judi Dench star in this heroic, action-packed epic based on the timeless play by William Shakespeare. "Magnificent, passionate and steeped in powerful emotion" (The Washington Post), Henry V is a "stunning," (Leonard Maltin) OscarÂ(r)-nominated* adventure that takes its place amongst the greatest war films of all time.Having recently been crowned King of England, Henry (Branagh) commands a massive invasion to assert what he believes is his legal right to the throne of France. But a mighty army stands in his wayÂ...and the young monarch must rely on untested reserves of courage and cunning as he personally leads his outnumbered forces into a desperate battle for the honor and glory of the British Empire. *1989: Director, Actor (Branagh), Costume Design (winner)

Amazon.com

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


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Product Details

  • Actors: Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Brian Blessed, Patrick Doyle, Ian Holm
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: July 18, 2000
  • Run Time: 138 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (310 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 079284615X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,364 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Henry V" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a sweeping statement, but true nonetheless: I believe that Kenneth Branagh's HENRY V is the greatest screen adaption ever done of Shakespeare. Period. Better than Olivier (although he was great in a very diferent way). Better than any version of Hamlet (even Branagh's, which is the best of the Hamlets). Better than anything else.
Why do I say this? Simply because no other film adaptation of Shakespeare has captured the essence of what the Bard was trying to say while adding a modern perspective in the process, all in a manner that is readily accessible to a mass audience. Yet that is precisely what this film does.
By sheer genius, Branagh was able to present HENRY V in all of its nationalistic glory, just as Shakespeare wrote it, while at the same time adding an anti-war footnote that serves both as counterpoint and commentary on the Bard's message. The contrast betwen the St. Crispin's Day speech as presented here (in which we are made to feel the real power behind Shakespeare's words) and the gritty, realistic presentation of the battle itself which follows is proof of my assertion.
It's all here: Lessons on history, loyalty, and the qualities of leadership, all wrapped in a fiercely entertaining package. Branagh's great accomplishment is to bring the piece to life without the slightest bit of stuffiness or anachronism, and even to add his own touch to an unapproachable masterpiece. This, his first film, remains his crowning achievement. I think the Bard would approve.
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Format: DVD
This may be the best Shakespeare film ever made. In 1942, Laurence Olivier delivered a jingoistic, stylized wartime production of "Henry V" that nonetheless stood as the standard interpretation. Nearly fifty years later, Kenneth Branagh's film appeared not only as a powerful and amazingly accessible recasting of the text, but a serious examination of the nature and the costs of the war that was Henry the Fifth's only real achievement.
Although studded with a fine array of subsidiary characters, "Henry V" is essentially a one-man play, and Branagh's performance informs and naturally influences all of the rest. His character has most of the lines, and he delivers them with a refreshing naturalism and candor that re-infuses the humor into the funny bits and cuts a lot of the potential for stilted jingoism out of the patriotic and warlike ones. If the real Henry's delivery of the St. Crispin speech was anything like Branagh's, it's no wonder the English won.
Slogging through the mud and rain of Harfleur and Agincourt with Branagh is a masterful supporting cast, including the incomparable Judi Dench as Mistress Quickly, Brian Blessed as a marvelously solid Exeter, and Ian Holm, wonderful as the irreverent and sarcastic Fluellen. On the French side, Paul Scofield's King is weary and indecisive rather than weak and mad; Michael Maloney's Dauphin is entertainingly arrogant, and Emma Thompson delivers a small but charming performance in playwright-broken English and much better French than Shakespeare likely spoke. Tying it all together is Christopher Ravenscroft, who invests the herald Mountjoy with a sympathy that extends to both sides, and a phenomenal showing by Derek Jacobi as the earnest, mocking and informative Chorus.
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I couldn't agree more with a reviewer below who suggested that high school English teachers would do well to put away the Shakespeare books and get their students to watch films like this. How can ninth graders possibly appreciate The Bard by poring over blocks of flowery text? Shakespeare needs to be seen, performed by actors who understand the cadence and meaning of the language, in order to be appreciated. Like most other people, I was forced to read plays like "Julius Caesar" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in high school, and I just DIDN'T GET IT at the time. It was only until I was an adult and saw Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of "Henry V" that I realized what a genius William Shakespeare really was.
For some odd reason videotape copies of this excellent film have been virtually impossible to find in recent years, so imagine my delight when I found out it soon to be re-released on DVD. I was quick to place my advance order, for "Henry V" is one of those rare films that one can watch repeatedly and appreciate even more after each viewing. Older film adaptations of this play, such as the one featuring Laurence Olivier in the title role, seem to pale in comparison, if only because of the gritty realism Branagh brings. King Henry's threats outside the gates of Harfleur border on horrific, and his "Feast of St. Crispian" speech to his men before the battle of Agincourt is perhaps the most soul-stirring call to arms I have ever heard. In contrast is a funny and charming scene in which Henry attempts to win the heart of the French Princess Catherine (Emma Thompson).
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Out of print?
I was wondering that, too. It's annoying, to say the least, to see that there are so few DVDs of this movie available.
Jun 11, 2014 by Alex Diaz-Granados |  See all 3 posts
Blu Ray
Probably not for a while. The DVD is out of print, too.
Jun 11, 2014 by Alex Diaz-Granados |  See all 2 posts
English subtitles?
Yes, sorta. They're the kind encoded in the video stream for the TV to decode. Problem: I can't figure out how to get Power DVD to show these subtitles. Windows Media Player will, but the video and sound are out of sync by ~2s (I'm only slightly deaf).
Sep 11, 2008 by Stephen Prather |  See all 3 posts
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