February 24, 2017


Henry V – 1989 | 137 mins | Drama | Colour


Plot Synopsis

Henry V

Based on the classic play by William Shakespeare, this rousing and highly acclaimed adaptation from star and directorial debutee Kenneth Branagh features bloody battle scenes and powerful performances from a stellar cast of British acting. Branagh’s film replaces the patriotic zeal of Laurence Olivier‘s 1944 version of Henry V with a more sombre manner reflecting the brutality and futility of war, Branagh believing that Henry V was a play in need of rescue from the jingoism of its World War Two associations. Branagh’s direction is flawless and surpasses many of his predecessors despite the limited budget in making the Bard truly accessible.

Once the Chorus (Derek Jacobi) has introduced the play, we greet former playboy prince Henry (Kenneth Branagh), who decides to change his image now that he has ascended the English throne and lay claim to France so as to establish his authority militarily. King Charles (Paul Scofield) rebuts Henry’s claim and so the men of England unite to march on France for the possession of Normandy. Henry, having successfully dealt with an assassination attempt, rouses his followers as they prepare to meet the French army before the Battle of Agincourt with the inspirational St. Crispin’s Day speech; “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” Outnumbered by an army five times greater than their own, Henry himself is involved in hand-to-hand combat rather than surveying the battlefield from afar. After the battle, Henry rides across the fields of the dead, carrying on his shoulders the body of a dead youth. The film’s ending is something of an anti-climax as Henry turns from matters of state to those of the heart, and so his long-drawn-out courtship of French Princess Katherine (Emma Thompson) ensues.

Production Team

Kenneth Branagh: Director
John King: Art Direction
Norman Dorme : Art Direction
Martin Childs: Art Direction
Kenneth MacMillan: Cinematography
Phyllis Dalton: Costume Design
Michael Bradsell: Editing
Beryl Lerman: Makeup Department
Ken Lintott: Makeup Department
Sue Love: Makeup Department
Stephanie Kaye: Makeup Department
Peter Frampton: Makeup Department
Ronnie Cogan: Makeup Department
Patrick Doyle: Original Music
Bruce Sharman: Producer
Tim Harvey: Production Design
Kenneth Branagh: Script
Graham Sutton: Sound Department
Robert Gavin: Sound Department
Chris Dibble: Sound Department
David Crozier: Sound Department
Campbell Askew: Sound Department
Terry Glass: Special Effects
Darrell Guyon: Special Effects
David Watson: Special Effects
Ian Wingrove: Special Effects
Trevor Wood: Special Effects
Paul Clancy: Special Effects


Derek Jacobi: Narrator
Kenneth Branagh: Henry V
Simon Shepherd: Gloucester
James Larkin: Bedford
Brian Blessed: Exeter
James Simmons: York
Charles Kay: Canterbury
Alec McCowen: Ely
Fabian Cartwright: Cambridge
Stephen Simms: Scroop
Jay Villiers: Grey
Ian Holm: Fluellen
John Sessions: Macmorris
Richard Briers: Bardolph
Robbie Coltrane: Falstaff
Christian Bale: Falstaff\’s Boy
Judi Dench: Mistress Quickly
Paul Scofield: French King
Emma Thompson: Katherine
Edward Jewesbury: Erpingham

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