Henry V (1989 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Kenneth Branagh|
|Produced by||Bruce Sharman|
|Screenplay by||Kenneth Branagh|
|Based on||Henry V
by William Shakespeare
|Narrated by||Derek Jacobi|
|Music by||Patrick Doyle|
|Editing by||Michael Bradsell|
The Samuel Goldwyn Company (USA)
|Distributed by||Curzon Film Distributors (UK)|
|Running time||137 minutes|
Henry V is a 1989 British drama film adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh, based on William Shakespeare's play of the same name about Henry V of England. The film stars Branagh in the title role with Paul Scofield, Derek Jacobi, Ian Holm, Emma Thompson, Alec McCowen, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, Brian Blessed, and Christian Bale in supporting roles.
The film received worldwide critical acclaim and has been widely considered one of the best Shakespeare film adaptations ever made. For her work on the film, Phyllis Dalton won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design and Kenneth Branagh, in his directorial debut, received Oscar nominations for Best Actor and Best Director.
The act divisions reflect the original play, not the film.
Act 1 
Early 15th century in England: The Bishop of Ely and the Archbishop of Canterbury conspire to distract young King Henry V from passing a decree that might confiscate property from the church. They agree to talk him into invading France. Therefore Canterbury appears in the throne room and explains to the King's advisers that Henry is rightful heir to the throne of France on the grounds of Salic law. Supported by the noblemen Exeter and Westmoreland these clergymen manage to persuade Henry to declare war on France in case his claim on the French crown is denied.
Consequently Henry calls in the French ambassador Mountjoy who represents the Dauphin. The Dauphin's condescending response enrages Henry. He states his determination to attack France, dismisses the ambassador and then starts immediately to prepare his campaign.
Act 2 
Henry tricks three high-ranked traitors into pronouncing their own sentence by asking advice on a lesser case. When they recommend to show no mercy, the King reveals his knowledge of their sedition and orders their execution before crossing the English Channel.
Meanwhile in France, Charles VI, the King of France and his noblemen discuss the graveness of King Henry's threats. The Dauphin does not fear Henry, but Charles and the Constable of France are worried because of Henry's martial ancestors and previous English invasions. Exeter arrives in full armor. He informs them that Henry demands the French crown and is prepared to take it by force if it is withheld, and further delivers an insulting message to the Dauphin. King Charles tells Exeter he will give him reply the following day.
Act 3 
King Henry delivers a morale-boosting speech to his troops and attacks the walled city of Harfleur. When the Dauphin fails to relieve the city in time, the governor surrenders in return for Henry's promise to do Harfleur's population no harm. Henry orders Exeter to repair its fortifications.
Katharine asks her lady-in-waiting Alice to teach her some basics in English. Correct English pronunciation is very hard for her to learn but she is determined to accomplish it, even though some words sound un-ladylike to her. King Charles finally orders his nobles to engage Henry's troops, halt their advance, and bring Henry back a prisoner.
The English troops struggle toward Calais through foul weather and sickness; Bardolph is hanged for looting a church. The French ambassador Mountjoy arrives and demands Henry pay a ransom for his person or place himself and his entire army at risk. Henry refuses, replying that even his reduced and sickly army is sufficient to resist a French attack.
Act 4 
Following a brief meeting with his brothers, Gloucester and Bedford, together with Sir Thomas Erpingham, Henry decides to look into the state of his troops and wanders his camp in disguise. He meets Pistol, who fails to recognize him. Soon after he encounters small group of soldiers, including Bates and Williams with whom he debates his own culpability for any deaths to follow. He and Williams almost come to blows, and they agree to duel the day after should they survive. When Williams and his friends leave the King alone, Henry breaks into a monologue about his burdens and prays to God for help.
Next morning the English Army is outnumbered five to one. Henry encourages his troops with his St. Crispin's Day Speech and responds angrily when Mountjoy renews the Dauphin's offer of ransom. The battle begins with the charge of the French cavalry, but the English countercharge and archery put down a large part of the advancing army before it ever reaches their lines. When the Constable of France is killed, the dismayed French leaders realize the battle is lost and become desperate. Some of them manage to get behind enemy lines. Deprived of any hope to turn the battle they break the code of chivalry by murdering the young English pages. Henry and his officer Fluellen come upon the carnage and are still appalled when Mountjoy delivers the French surrender.
Act 5 
Finally negotiations are made for Henry to be named king of both England and France. He has a brief romantic interlude with Katharine while the French and English royal delegations negotiate the Treaty of Troyes.
While the main plot is about the struggle between the protagonist King Henry V of England and his French antagonists, the film also has a subplot which shows the impact of war on common soldiers and officers.
Act 2 starts by introducing Falstaff's friends Bardolph, Nym, Pistol. In a London tavern Bardolph tries to resolve a fight over Mistress Quickly, who was supposed to marry Nym but then wed Pistol. When a messenger informs everyone present that their friend Sir John Falstaff is deathly ill, they visit him and grieve his demise. Even so, the men must leave for the war after all and bid farewell to Mistress Quickly.
Act 3 shows the Welsh officer Fluellen and an officer named Gower discussing the tunnels that the English have dug in order to breech the walls of Harfleur. Fluellen believes these constructions aren't proper and derides the responsible Irish Captain MacMorris while praising Captain Jamy, the officer in charge of the Scottish troops. When MacMorris and Jamy arrive, Fluellen offers MacMorris advice on about digging the tunnels and offends him. The two nearly break into a fight before they are interrupted by retreating English troops. The then re-unite in order to fight together against the French.
In lines appearing here in Act 4, but transplanted from the play's Act 5, a distraught Pistol after the Battle of Agincourt bemoans the death of his wife, and he resolves to return to England and take up a career as a cutpurse.
The cast includes many well-known actors: Derek Jacobi, Brian Blessed, Ian Holm, Christian Bale, Paul Scofield, Richard Briers, Robert Stephens, and Emma Thompson, Robbie Coltrane and Judi Dench. Judi Dench's real-life husband Michael Williams appears as the character Michael Williams.
The text of the play is heavily edited. Additionally, Branagh incorporated flashbacks using extracts from Henry IV, Part 1 and Part 2 in which Henry interacts with the character of Falstaff, who, in Shakespeare's Henry V, is never seen, merely announced to be deathly ill in Act 2 Scene 1, and dead in Act 2 scene 3. The scenes involve a brief summary of Henry's denouncement of Falstaff primarily with lines from Act 2, Scene 4 of Henry IV part 1 and a brief though important utterance of Henry's final repudiation of Falstaff in Part 2, "I know thee not, old man." The film also uses Falstaff's line "do not, when thou art King, hang a thief" from Henry IV Part 1 but gives it to Bardolph, in order to highlight the poignancy when Henry later has Bardolph executed.
Henry V was made on an estimated budget of $9 million. The film was produced by Bruce Sharman with the British Broadcasting Corporation and Branagh's company Renaissance Films. Principal photography commenced on 31 October 1988 and concluded 19 December the same year. Sixty percent of production was shot on sound stages at Shepperton Studios, while many of the battle sequences were shot on fields adjacent to the Shepperton complex.
Branagh's film is frequently compared with the 1944 film of the play directed by and starring Laurence Olivier. The visual style of Branagh's film is grittier and more realistic than that of Olivier's. For example, his film avoids Olivier's use of stylized sets, and, where Olivier staged the Battle of Agincourt on a sunlit field, Branagh's takes place amid rain-drenched mud and gore. Nearly all of the scenes involving the comic characters were also staged as drama, rather than in the broad, more slapstick way in which Olivier staged them, because Branagh felt that modern audiences would not see the humor in these scenes.
While the text of the Chorus' monologues are the same, the setting for them has been adapted to reflect the nature of the motion picture adaptation of the play. Unlike the other performers, who are dressed in clothing contemporary to the actual Henry V to reflect their characters, the Chorus is dressed in modern 20th century clothing. The opening monologue, originally written to compensate for the limitations of on stage theater to represent the historical scenes presented, is delivered on an empty motion picture sound stage with unfinished sets. The other chorus monologues are delivered on location where the relevant action is taking place. In all cases, the chorus speaks directly to the camera, addressing the audience.
|Soundtrack album by Patrick Doyle|
|Released||8 November 1989|
The score to Henry V was written by then first-time composer Patrick Doyle. It was performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Simon Rattle. The soundtrack was released 8 November 1989 through EMI Classics and features fifteen tracks of score at a running time just under an hour. Patrick Doyle also appeared in Henry V as Court (credited as Pat Doyle), who is the first soldier to begin singing "Non Nobis, Domine" following the conflict at Agincourt.
- "Opening Title/'O! for a Muse of Fire'" (3:34)
- "King Henry V Theme/The Boar's Head" (2:46)
- "The Three Traitors" (2:03)
- "'Now, Lords, for France!'" (2:40)
- "The Death of Falstaff" (1:54)
- "'Once More Unto the Breach'" (3:45)
- "The Threat to the Governor of Harfleur/Katherine of France/The March to Calais" (5:51)
- "The Death of Bardolph" (2:22)
- "'Upon the King'" (4:50)
- "St. Crispin's Day/The Battle of Agincourt" (14:13)
- "'The Day is Yours'" (2:34)
- "'Non Nobis, Domine'" (4:09)
- "The Wooing of Katherine" (2:24)
- "'Let This Acceptance Take'" (2:50)
- "End Title" (2:35)
The film is rated PG in Australia and M in New Zealand for violence and is rated PG for television. In the United Kingdom, it was also given a PG rating from the British Board of Film Classification
Home media 
A pan and scan VHS was released through CBS/Fox Video in 1990. MGM Home Entertainment later released Henry V on DVD 18 July 2000, preserving the widescreen format of the original theatrical presentation.
Critical response 
Henry V received near-universal critical acclaim for Branagh's Oscar-nominated performance and direction, for the accessibility of its Shakespearean language, and for its score by Patrick Doyle. It currently holds a rare 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a Metacritic score of 83 out of 100, based on 17 reviews—all positive. Henry V also ranks #1 on the Rotten Tomatoes list of Greatest Shakespeare Movies, beating Akira Kurosawa's Ran (1985) and Branagh's own version of Hamlet (1996), respectively ranking in second and third place.
Roger Ebert, noted critic of the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the film three-and-a-half out of four stars, highly praising Branagh's performance and writing, "There is no more stirring summons to arms in all of literature than Henry's speech to his troops on St. Crispan's Day, ending with the lyrical 'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.' To deliver this speech successfully is to pass the acid test for anyone daring to perform the role of Henry V in public, and as Kenneth Branagh, as Henry, stood up on the dawn of the Battle of Agincourt and delivered the famous words, I was emotionally stirred even though I had heard them many times before. That is one test of a great Shakespearian actor: to take the familiar and make it new." Variety magazine also gave the film a positive review, calling Henry V "A stirring, gritty and enjoyable pic which offers a plethora of fine performances from some of the U.K.'s brightest talents."
Box office 
The film grossed over $10 million in the U.S. and at the time of its widest release played on 134 U.S. screens.
|Award||Category||Recipients and nominees||Result|
|Academy Awards||Best Actor||Kenneth Branagh||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Phyllis Dalton||Won|
|Best Director||Kenneth Branagh||Nominated|
|British Academy Film Awards||Best Actor in a Leading Role||Kenneth Branagh||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||Kenneth MacMillan||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Phyllis Dalton||Nominated|
|Best Direction||Kenneth Branagh||Won|
|Best Production Design||Tim Harvey||Nominated|
|Best Sound||Campbell Askew, David Crozier, Robin O'Donoghue||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||Kenneth Branagh||Won|
|European Film Awards||Best Actor||Kenneth Branagh||Won|
|Best Young Film||Won|
|Evening Standard British Film Awards||Best Film||Kenneth Branagh||Won|
|Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists||European Silver Ribbon||Kenneth Branagh||Nominated|
|National Board of Review of Motion Pictures||Best Director||Kenneth Branagh||Won|
|New York Film Critics Circle Awards||Best New Director||Kenneth Branagh||Won|
|Sant Jordi Awards||Best Foreign Actor||Kenneth Branagh||Won|
See also 
- "HENRY V (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 1989-06-28. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
- Henry V. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- Henry V (1989) - Box office / business. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
- Henry V DVD (2000). "Collectable Booklet".
- Clemmensen, Christian (19 July 1998, Revised 23 September 2011). "Henry V: (Patrick Doyle)". Filmtracks.com. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- Patrick Doyle Biography (1953-). Filmreference.com. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- Patrick Doyle (1953-). Filmtracks.com. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- "Collections: ShakespeareInstitute". Virtual Manuscript Room. University of Birmingham. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
- Henry V (1989). Amazon.com. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- "Henry V (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- Henry V. Metacritic. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
- "Greatest Shakespeare Movies". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- Ebert, Roger (15 December 1989). "Henry V". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- Variety Staff (31 December 1989). "Henry V". Variety. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- Henry V at the Internet Movie Database
- Henry V at the TCM Movie Database
- Henry V at AllRovi
- Henry V at Box Office Mojo
- Henry V at Rotten Tomatoes
- Henry V at Metacritic
- A Word from Kenneth Branagh