Henry V is a stirring, gritty and enjoyable pic which offers a plethora of fine performances from some of the U.K.’s brightest talents.
Laurence Olivier’s Henry V (1944) was designed to rally the English with its glorious battle scenes and patriotic verse. Branagh’s version is more realistic and tighter in scale, and is a contempo version of Shakespeare.
Pic opens with Derek Jacobi as the chorus wandering around a film studio setting the scene. Branagh (Henry V, King of England) prepares for an invasion of France to secure his legal claim to the French throne. Paul Scofield (the French king) sadly ponders his country’s situation and is urged to enter in bloody battle by Michael Maloney (the Dauphin).
After many battles, Branagh’s tired and bedraggled army prepares for the final conflict with the massive French forces. After wandering among his troops in disguise, Branagh makes an impassioned speech and his forces win.
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One subplot has Emma Thompson (the French king’s daughter Katherine) and her maid (Geraldine McEwan) playing at learning English. Branagh declares his love for Thompson after he has won the French throne.
1989: Best Costume Design.
Nominations: Best Director, Actor (Kenneth Branagh)