• Henry V
    2 minutes 57 seconds
    Added: May 9, 2008

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

Page 1 of 8
Ken S

Super Reviewer

June 5, 2007
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.
John B

Super Reviewer

October 11, 2013
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.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

March 30, 2012
"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
June 3, 2010
A pretty ambitious production by Olivier, certainly helped explain some parts I missed of "Chimes at Midnight". Get over the propaganda.
spleenylutheran
November 23, 2007
Many scenes have a wonderful sense that the viewer is in a medieval 'book of hours' and I love how the film starts and ends with being in the Globe Theatre in Shakespeare's time.
shickabling
October 31, 2006
maybe it was the first to be truly amazing, but time has made it extremely dull. half the movie a play, the other half real life??? ending back to a play??
October 14, 2012
It has outstanding battle sequences and Olivier is at the top of his game as an actor while getting his feet whet as a director. The supporting cast unfortunately doesn't help much, and the stylistic choices are more interesting and curious than good. Still a good adaptation.
Chris M.
September 6, 2012
Olivier is a master. Need to watch this all the way through.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

March 30, 2012
"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
Adrian B.
January 15, 2012
Laurence Olivier's take on the famous Shakespeare film is, for me, not as great as "Hamlet" but does have some really good sequences. The film starts out with a 24-minute play, which does not go to well since the script within the play is read by the performers and consistently falls on the floor. The story then changes course, when Olivier as the title character decides to fight France after he has been insulted. The conquest for France, which eventually leads to the English to victory, is filled with very well done battle sequences. One particular scene which initiates the war is when the whole English army lifts up their bow and arrows and shoots right at the same time. That was a real memorable scene. The one glaring problem with "Henry V" is the length. It just seems very slow at times. Perhaps another problem I have, although it really shouldn't, is that unlike "Hamlet," it isn't in black-and-white, but I don't think that is the problem. "Hamlet" is a completely different story, in which the black-and-white gave a more haunting feeling and there are ghost within than story. Actually, the colour in "Henry V" was really good touch. Could have been better, but a pretty good adaption on the Shakespeare play.
Monsieur Rick
January 28, 2010
Olivier's performance is perhaps, one of the most brilliant ever captured on film, in this, the first film version of Shakespeare's great drama.

There are dozens of large and hundreds of small excellences which Sir Laurence and his associates have developed to sustain Shakesepear's poem.

The battle scenes are brilliantly directed by Olivier, the color photography is breathtaking.

While not the best film for modern audiences, this one well done for its day, lets give it that, at least, ok?

Look in any cinema review book and this film is 100% gold. Don't ask me why, but I have books spanning 5 decades and they ALL review this won the same way... the best made film.

I guess there is no accounting for taste, and maybe they read each others books, but it is strange this film got such high praise.... better watch it again?
gillianren
March 31, 2009
Every generation has its Great Shakespearean Actor, the person considered the top of the profession in every way. Naturally, most of the performances are lost. We will never how how Robin Armin sounded as Feste in [i]Twelfth Night[/i]. Come to that, we'll never know if Will took the stage himself, and what he was like if he did. We'll never see David Garrick as Richard III or Edwin Booth as Hamlet. Sadly, I don't think there's even a recording of Orson Welles's [i]Macbeth[/i], the [i]Voodoo Macbeth[/i]. (He directed, not starred.) However, the great joy of the new age of media is that I can in one day (one kind of long day) compare dear Larry (Laurence, Baron Olivier, to the fussy) and Kenneth Branagh in the same role, even though Larry died in '89--and his [i]Henry V[/i] came out the year my mother was born.

Henry V (Larry or Branagh, depending) is, with the help of his army, invading France. He is just one more English king at war with France; it was hardly unusual at the time, given the setting's in the middle of the Hundred Years' War. He helps overturn an assassination plot, then he leads his army across the Channel and into the heart of France. His old friend Falstaff (George Robey or Robbie Coltrane) dies, having been rejected by the king as Henry tries to become a better person. He must hang another friend, Bardolph (Roy Emerton or Richard Briers), for looting a church in order to set an example. The example, however, is left out of the Olivier version. After a long night in which Henry sneaks around, trying to get the opinions of his men, they fight and win the Battle of Agincourt, and Henry marries the French princess, Katherine (Renée Asherson or Emma Thompson). There's a limit to how happily-ever-after a history can really be, but if you leave out the final speech, Happily Ever After it is.

Each version has its failings. What struck me about the Olivier is the fact that a member of the comic relief who was supposed to, I believe, have an Irish accent sounded rather more as if he came from Minnesota. I also didn't really like the staginess of it. That's worked in some movies, but I found the actual audience distracting. It was an interesting concept to have the stage sort of fade away and the play move into real space, but I have to say that it didn't work for me. On the other hand, Branagh's being as Branaghy as ever. He is by-Gods the focus of the film, and woe betide us should we ever forget it. In both--and probably the original play, which I'm not sure I've read--the death of Falstaff seems kind of tacked on to give resolution to a favourite character. I do like how Branagh's Boy is Christian Bale. And, yes, that's the character name. Boy.

There has been great literary debate over the play's stance toward war. It has even been suggested by some historians as a rallying point for poor, mad Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex. However, I agree with the idea that the play's as confused as everyone else. The fact that Olivier was able to use it as wartime propaganda--and win an Oscar while doing it--and Branagh was able to do it showing the horrors of war--and be nominated as both actor and director while doing it--says something about the play's ambiguity. Henry V is seen as glorious for his conquests. On the other hand, war itself is seen as a horror. The soldiers aren't really thrilled to be there, but it is said that, if the king declares that they should go to war, go to war they must. That's just the way of it.

I do not think [i]Henry V[/i] is one of Shakespeare's best plays--ye Gods, wait until Branagh decides he should be Richard III--but I think these are two fine productions of it nonetheless. Obviously, we cannot know for sure if these are the best performances of the lead in the history of the play, but they are quite good. However, I have a scenario for you--logically, this would have been a plum role for Edwin Booth, that great tragedian of the mid to late nineteenth century. And, indeed, Edwin would have probably made a fine Henry V in this play. But in the [i]Henry IV[/i] plays, with wild, dissolute Prince Hal, how much the better his brother in the role?
zach.seely
July 28, 2007
I don't know where to start when reviewing a stage play put on the silver screen. This one seems flawless, of course. Olivier's choice of making this film look like a play on film is interesting (note: it doesn't look like a stage play; it looks like a film with sets the combine both films strong capability of fakery and the stage's ability at representation).

I never really enjoyed it. I am sure it would be more inspiring if I lived during WWII in England and need that boost optimism.
beavis69
May 19, 2006
William Shakespeare is always a person who, to fully understand him, I have had to read his books two or three times to pick up on the context of the way he uses words. Henry V is no different. Unfortunantly, i watched this movie having only read small pieces of Henry V, so to help me through the dialogue i switched on the old subtitles to read along. This helped me enjoy the movie even more. As that has nothing to do with the movie really but my own stupidty, i will move on. Henry V is about a the King of England, who is played by Lawrence Olivier who also directs, who leads his army against the King of France. The movie starts out like any Shakespearain play would, in a play house during medieval times. The film then shifts from theater settings to a more tradional movie setting. The story is amazing, the acting is brillaint, and the battle at the end was exciting. This movie was apparently made to boost the British morale during the second world war and i can see how it would do this. Its tale of courage, honor, and heroism would be the perfect morale booster. It is a great story of a underated military battling against a stronger opponent and coming out victorious.
filmistruth
January 6, 2006
*.5/****

Pro: Great transition from opening into the real story. The language is spoken very well. Speaking with Pistol.

Con: Set design. Outdated. I wasn't interested in subject matter, and watching didn't change my mind. The ending.
vader_of_vjun
October 1, 2005
Olivier's Henry V is visually wonderful, and acted magnificently. It's done in a different way to most Shakespeare adaptions, and this may confuse and put the film in a bad light for some people, but if you understand it, the film is a joy.
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