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Henry V (The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1946)

tomatometer

100

Average Rating: 8.6/10
Reviews Counted: 24
Fresh: 24 | Rotten: 0

A patriotic booster, Laurence Olivier's directorial debut and star turn as Henry V result in a sharply realized and resonant take on Shakespeare's deeply British warrior king.

100

Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 0

A patriotic booster, Laurence Olivier's directorial debut and star turn as Henry V result in a sharply realized and resonant take on Shakespeare's deeply British warrior king.

audience

75

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 4,004

My Rating

Movie Info

Laurence Olivier's adaptation of Henry V is one of the finest Shakespeare films ever made, full of rousing action, beautiful colors, and passionate performances. Henry V is the story of the newly crowned king of England, who fights the French for possession of Normandy. Olivier's direction is inventive, beginning the film as if it were a performance at the Globe Theatre, and having it slowly expand so the final battle scenes take place in realistic settings. Released in 1944 during the height of

Jun 22, 1999

Paramount Home Video

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All Critics (24) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (24) | Rotten (0) | DVD (1)

While definitely athletic, pageant-minded and somewhat recognizable after all of the war dramas that have come out since Elizabethan times, no movie has given a more poignant impression of men in battle or been so cutting about the waste and folly of war.

August 31, 2012 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
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The movies have produced one of their rare great works of art.

August 29, 2012 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
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One can pick plenty of bones with Laurence Olivier's direction of the Shakespeare play, but this 1945 film is still a powerful production from many standpoints.

July 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
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The color, the sets, the expanse and the imaginative quality of the filming are unexcelled.

July 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
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If it has power now, it's for Larry's commanding soldier-king and for his audacious sub-Brechtian adapatation, which scythes the text to reveal the heart - notably in the extraordinary, moving, pre-battle 'A little touch of Harry' exposing cold fear's co

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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A stunningly brilliant and intriguing screen spectacle, rich in theatrical invention, in heroic imagery and also gracefully regardful of the conventions of the Elizabethan stage.

August 13, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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Experimental in its approach to adapating Shakespeare to the big screen, Laurence Olivier's film is an innovative, stunningly looking, well-acted work.

March 24, 2009 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Great Olivier performance and direction.

March 2, 2008
Video-Reviewmaster.com

Olivier's terrific performance and William Walton's sweeping score render it one of the best Shakespeare films ever made.

August 10, 2007 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

A bold, clear reading of Shakespeare's play and an exhilarating piece of wartime propaganda.

August 10, 2007 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

The dashing Olivier gives an exceptional performance, whether galvanizing his troops with his soaring oratory, or realizing on the eve of combat the king's profound isolation.

August 10, 2007 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A towering performance from Olivier cements this as a true example of flag-waving cinema.

August 10, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

The first completely serious attempt to bring Shakespeare to the sound film.

November 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Shakespeare's finest hour on the big screen to date.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

A colorful, spectacular adaptation, made to inspire the WWII troops, which it does. Olivier at the top of his art.

February 14, 2003
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

That the film should get made at all was an extraordinary achievement, but Olivier, in his directing debut, also gave us the first large-scale radical movie re-interpretation of Shakespeare long before others.

February 20, 2002 Full Review Source: BBC.com

Olivier not only took on the title role but the director's mantle, performing both roles magnificently.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for Henry V (The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France

Not at all what I expected. The use to the theater stage and "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood"-esque production design in fascinating.

Can defiantly see it's influence on Wes Anderson and Monty Python.
October 9, 2007
kenstachnik

Super Reviewer

This is Laurence Olivier's pinnacle in his film adaptations of Shakespeare's work. It is bright and colourful in a way that films were not during this time period. Potentially served as an inspiration for the British forces during the Second World War.
October 11, 2013
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

"I am Henry V; I am Henry V; I am, I am!" No, wait, that's Henry VII... or IV, or VI or IX or CCLXXXII. Man, there were too many King Henrys (Though still not as many George Foremans), so one can only imagine how many adaptations they've made of the Shakespeare plays. ...Oh wait, there have only been two, and they were both done by pretty much the same person. Oh, Kenneth Branagh, he is Olivier II; he is Olivier II; he is, he is! Really, that would probably make him, like, Shakespeare XIII or something, because he and Olivier both might have been some kind of relative to that ye olde earring-wearing sonneth of a gunneth (Well, to be fair, as old as Olivier was, he might have actually been Shakespeare's kid, or more likely, Grandfather), seeing as they pretty much built their careers around those plays, too. Okay, Branagh is and Oliver was still very versatile if the film industry, yet I can see why we keep associating Shakespeare with the two filmmakers, because Shakespeare is - or was, in the case of the late, great Sir Olivier - they're game, and sure enough, Olivier played that game pretty well with, well, another film, I'm sure, because while this film is enjoyable, it goes plagued by its own ambitions, among other things.

I went into this film totally unaware of its cleverly original and unique concept of dramatising an actual performance of the play in Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in 1600 before we fade into the the actual film adaptation of the play as though it was seen through the visualisations of Globe Theatre audience members. Again, it's a very refreshing concept and one that I could really get behind, were it not for the fact that it's almost a whole 30 paceless minutes into the film before we finally fade out of the Globe Theatre. Once the transition is made, the tone is shifted jarringly and it takes a while for you to get used to the transportation, even though you never really got used to the Globe Theatre segment of the film, seeing as its mixture of stage play and period film - a potentially brilliant gimmick - is absurdly overlong, jarring and ultimately leaves you to become disengaged very frequently. After you finally fall into the world of Henry V, the sailing may be much smoother, but there are still some rocky tides forged by Laurence Olivier still pumping the film with a sometimes overbearing theatrical tone that may not be as severe as it was when were seeing the actual play, but still doesn't always fit the tone, leaving our investment in the film, as a film, to go diluted. The film is an absolute mess, not merely tainted by missteps in storytelling, but missteps in ambition, as this film talks a big game, but in the long run, it doesn't deliver on everything it sets out to accomplish. However, within the ambition lays something that truly plays a large part in saving this mess of a project, almost to the point of raising it well above average: Charm. The film's intentions are noble, yet mostly unfulfilled, but where plenty of films of this type would worsen their state by drenching their ambitions in pretense, Olivier approaches the project with hight spirits and charisma, both on and off of the screen, and the film truly benefits from that, as well as certain areas of ambition that this film really does deliver on, and pretty sharply at that.

Bypassing filming limitations of the '40s to produce scope, dazzle and sweep that rivals even today's examples of quality cinematography was a possible feat that only so many could accomplish, and Jack Hildyard and Robert Krasker were among those handful of visionary cinematographers. The coloring and lighting of the film is plagued by the test of time, yet it's still so flashy and lively, attracting your eyes on many an occasion, particularly those phenomenal moments of truly incredible camerawork, from sweeps and dives in the midst of action or simply a slow, steady and meditative hovering observation of the immersively stellar production designs. Another aspect that saves the film is that it is simply a film about a Shakespeare play, and the guy really knew how to produce a worthy story with scope and uniqueness, and while Olivier doesn't do this classic total justice, his production of the film and the way he portrays it make the final product, if nothing else, consistently entertaining. That entertainment value is certainly amerliorated by charm, not just the direction, but in the performance, because although several performances have dated, and were already tainted by 1600s theatrics to begin with, most everyone brings charisma to the screen, particularly Laurence Olivier himself. Okay, now, Olivier's acting isn't one to evoke "Citizen Kane" or anything, but hey, at least it's better than his direction. No, again, his direction is workmanlike, yet his performance, while not incredibly impressive, is still strong enough for him to carry this product more than he ever does behind the camera. Olivier portrays King Henry V with charm, brilliance and powerful authority, yet some degree of vulnerability and humanity, and it's all brought together by a strong presence that results in a strong lead performance that keeps you charmed and sometimes even compelled.

As the curtains draw, it's easy to walk away rather dissatisfied by the jarring thematic shifts and overlong segments, all of which go plagued by an often overbearing theatrical tone that only dilutes intrigue and investment, yet you're kept from completely falling out of the film by the remarkable cinematography and productions designs, as well as much atmospheric and acting charm, with Laurence Olivier's assured lead acting performance all but making up for his missteps as director and making his vision of "Henry V" a generally entertaining production, flawed though, it may be.

2.5/5 - Fair
March 30, 2012
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron Johnson

Super Reviewer

Olivier,the brave little toaster.Megalomaniac beyond good and evil,a person who pushed Shakespeare to the limits,and in his personal Henry V vision tarnishes the philosophy of the play.He probably knows we're in the movies so in spite of the rejuvenating colors and the chirping atmosphere,we are aware of the Shakespearean pathos somewhere in that clamor of fight.
December 16, 2009
jimbotender
Dimitris Springer

Super Reviewer

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