Henry V (1989)

henry-v-poster“And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by from this day until the ending of the world but we in it shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, For he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother, Be he ne’er so vile, this day shall gentle his condition, and gentlemen in England now abed shall think themselves acursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks, that fought with us upon St. Crispin’s day! ” – King Henry V

Number of Times Seen – 2 or 3 times (Cable in the 90’s and 17 Apr 2016)

Brief Synopsis – The famous Shakespeare play of the life and conquests of King Henry V is brought to life by this adaptation by Kenneth Branagh.

My Take on it – In High School, I HATED having to read Shakespeare and reverted to using the Cliff Notes as much as possible.

I had a lot of trouble understanding what was going on while reading the stories and always needed help comprehending what was actually going on.

My first exposure to film adaptations of The Bard’s work was when we saw Romeo and Juliet (1968) in 8th Grade.  I FINALLY understood what was going on [eventhough, I should have just realized that it was a skewed old-time version of West Side Story (1961) 🙂 ]

In 10th grade, we actually were taken to the Movie Theater on a field trip to see Mel Gibson’s Hamlet (1990) and once again my eyes were opened up to what was actually happening.

I then had the opportunity to see this film on video and I was even more amazed at how the visualization helped me understand what was actually transpiring on the pages.

I saw this once or twice since, but this time, I really got to appreciate what was happening and was totally amazed at the way that Kenneth Branagh brought this to the screen.

It truly is one of the best adaptations of Shakespeare for the screen.

The story gets so much needed depth when filmed like this and even the characters felt more real than they do on stage.

This was the first movie directed by Kenneth Branagh and he was able to garner both a Best Director and Best Actor Oscar nomination for this endeavor at the young age of only 29.  He was even able to win Bets Director at The BAFTA’s and National Board of Review that year, but missed out on a DGA nomination.

He was able to get so many famous actors to take part in this, it’s truly incredible.

Emma Thompson, Derek Jacobi, Robbie Coltran, Brian Blessed, Ian Holm, Judi Dench, Paul Scofield, Michael Williams and a VERY young Christian Bale all take part here.

The musical score by Patrick Doyle is amazing and gives so much more emphasis to much of the dialogue especially the St. Crispin’s Day speech.

It’s unfortunate that Branagh has stopped making film adaptations of the Bard’s work because this movie, Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Hamlet (1996), Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000) and As You Like It (2006) are all superbly done.

Bottom Line – One of the best adaptations of a Shakespeare play.  Gives so much depth to the story and the characters that isn’t possible to easily achieve on a stage. Branagh proved to the world how accomplished an actor and director he was at such a young age.  Amazing cast of so many famous faces. Makes me wish he adapted even more of The Bard’s plays for the screen. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The character of Michael Williams was invented by William Shakespeare in 1599. In 1989 Kenneth Branagh chose Michael Williams to play the role. Perhaps the aptness of the choice was irresistible. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy


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10 thoughts on “Henry V (1989)

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