Like Laurence Olivier, Kenneth Branagh's first foray into Shakespeare on film was Henry V. Branagh, however, was under no mandate to make the film as propaganda for a world war effort, and, therefore, the director/screenwriter was free to portray the blood and dirt of war in graphic detail. Branagh is a strong effective king in this piece presented in period costume, and the audience firmly believes that the Dauphin doesn't stand a chance against him. The soldiers are a tough lot and they fight amidst the smoke and fire of a frightening real battlefield. Henry's rejection of his former friends and their execution illustrates not only Henry's strength as a king, but his moral conviction as a man. Henry does have a tender side, however, and in the courting scene with Katherine, played by Emma Thompson, Branagh is the quintessential romantic hero. For Thompson, she brings a freshness and spirit to Katherine that truly complements her soon-to-husband's disposition. The rest of the cast, drawn from the cream of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre (UK), are superb in their roles and the entire film rings with a truthfulness about the need for, and the cost, of war. This one is a must-see. - J.R. Costa
Cast: Narrator: Derek Jacobi; Henry V: Kenneth Branagh; Gloucester: Simon Shepherd; Bedford: James Larkin; Exeter: Brian Blessed; York: James Simmons; Canterbury: Charles Kay; Ely: Alec McCowen; Cambridge: Fabian Cartwright; Scroop: Stephen Simms; Grey: Jay Villiers; Erpingham: Edward Jewesbury; Fluellen: Ian Holm; Gower: Daniel Webb; Jamy: Jimmy Yuill; Macmorris: John Sessions; Bates: Shaun Prendergast; Court: Patrick Doyle; Williams: Michael Williams; Bardolph: Richard Briers; Nym: Geoffrey Hutchings; Pistol: Robert Stephens; Falstaff: Robbie Coltrane; Falstaff's Boy: Christian Bale; Mistress Quickly: Judi Dench; French King: Paul Scofield; Dauphin: Michael Maloney; Burgundy: Harold Innocent; Orleans: Richard Clifford; Grandpre: Colin Hurley; Constable: Richard Easton; Mountjoy: Christopher Ravenscroft; Katherine: Emma Thompson; Alice: Geraldine McEwan; Governor of Harfleur: David Lloyd Meredith; Messenger: David Parfitt; Warwick: Nicholas Ferguson; Talbot: Tom Whitehouse; Berri: Nigel Greaves; Bretagne: Julian Gartside; Soldiers: Mark Inman, Chris Armstrong.
Director; Kenneth Branagh; Writers: Kenneth Branagh, William Shakespeare; Producers: Stephen Evans, David Parfitt, Bruce Sharman; Production Companies: BBC, Renaissance Films (UK).
Colour. Runtime: 137 mins.
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