Henry V (Cliffs Notes Edition)
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Absolutely great. The music was powerful as was the Crispen Day speckPublished 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
While Branagh can occasionally go overboard, he gets this one exactly right. It is not only my favorite Shakespeare movie (I own five different Hamlets, if that tells you... Read morePublished 6 days ago by S.E.D.
thee DVd arrived on time and I have been watching it. Kenneth Branagh is one of my favorite actors. The DVD is in good condition. Now I can watch it whenever I want. Read morePublished 1 month ago by James Tucker
I've wait for many years to get Henry V on BD, and still cherish my DVD version. The BD is the best ever made in terms of audio and video clarity. Read morePublished 1 month ago by James Q. Smith
One of my favorite movies. I say it in 1989 at the Vogue Theater in Louisville, Kentucky and thought the arrows flying overhead during the Battle of Agincourt was amazing. Read morePublished 3 months ago by panton41
My husband was thrilled with this. He did not think I could find a copy for himPublished 3 months ago by Lisa A Dufour
What a beautiful story on humanity and the worst and best parts coming out together in a battle that requires leadership and acceptance of both darkness and light.Published 5 months ago by Ishmael
Intense and incredibly well acted and produced. A must see for all the Shakespeare fans.Published 5 months ago by R L C
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