Henry V

The great adventure of a king who defied the odds to prove himself a man
The great adventure of a king who defied the odds to prove himself a man


D: Kenneth Branagh

Renaissance/BBC/Curzon (Bruce Sharman)

UK 1989

138 mins


W: Kenneth Branagh [based on the play by William Shakespeare]

DP: Kenneth MacMillan

Ed: Michael Bradsell

Mus: Patrick Doyle

PD: Tim Harvey

Cos: Phyllis Dalton

Kenneth Branagh (Henry V), Derek Jacobi (Chorus), ), Brian Blessed (Duke of Exeter), Paul Scofield (Charles VI of France), Emma Thompson (Princess Katherine)

Laurence Olivier got there first to show Hollywood that Shakespeare could be translated to the screen successfully, and though Kenneth Branagh's version came 45 years later, he takes the Bard's prose in a completely different direction, blending stage with screen and though the BBC had a big hand in the production it does feel a little too profligate for a television serial.

Emulating Olivier, Branagh takes on the title role himself, a playboy king who must come of age quickly as he prepares for war and the historically significant Battle of Agincourt. 

Branagh adopts an artistic and far more darker approach to the material, serving it as an anti-war fable rather than a story of courage, and though much of the opening act is bogged down with some tedium, the battle scenes, when they come, are visually splendid.

You don't have to be a Shakespeare fan to appreciate it fully, but it helps.


Kenneth Branagh in Henry V
Kenneth Branagh in Henry V