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Henry V (Widescreen)

Kenneth Branagh , Derek Jacobi , Kenneth Branagh    PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 88.07
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Henry V (Widescreen) + Titus (Special Edition) + Much Ado About Nothing (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
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Very few films come close to the brilliance Kenneth Branagh achieved with his first foray into screenwriting and direction. Henry V qualifies as a masterpiece, the kind of film that comes along once in a decade. He eschews the theatricality of Laurence Olivier's stirring, fondly remembered 1945 adaptation to establish his own rules. Branagh plays it down and dirty, seeing the bard's play through revisionist eyes, framing it as an antiwar story. Branagh gives us harsh close-ups of muddied, bloody men, and close-ups of himself as Henry, his hardened mouth and willful eyes revealing much about this land war. Not that the director-star doesn't provide lighter moments. His scenes introducing the French Princess Katherine (Emma Thompson) are toothsome. Bubbly, funny, enhanced by lovely lighting and Thompson's pale beauty, these glimpses of a princess trying to learn English quickly from her maid are delightful.

What may be the crowning glory of Branagh's adaptation comes when the dazed, shaky leader wanders through battlefields, not even sure who has won. As King Hal carries a dead boy (Empire of the Sun's Christian Bale) over the hacked-up bodies of both the English and French, you realize it is the first time Branagh has opened up the scenes: a panorama of blood and mud and death. It is as strong a statement against warmongering as could ever be made. --Rochelle O'Gorman

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Most helpful customer reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Sept. 16 2002
This may be the best Shakespeare film ever made. In 1942, Laurence Olivier delivered a jingoistic, stylized wartime production of "Henry V" that nonetheless stood as the standard interpretation. Nearly fifty years later, Kenneth Branagh's film appeared not only as a powerful and amazingly accessible recasting of the text, but a serious examination of the nature and the costs of the war that was Henry the Fifth's only real achievement.
Although studded with a fine array of subsidiary characters, "Henry V" is essentially a one-man play, and Branagh's performance informs and naturally influences all of the rest. His character has most of the lines, and he delivers them with a refreshing naturalism and candor that re-infuses the humor into the funny bits and cuts a lot of the potential for stilted jingoism out of the patriotic and warlike ones. If the real Henry's delivery of the St. Crispin speech was anything like Branagh's, it's no wonder the English won.
Slogging through the mud and rain of Harfleur and Agincourt with Branagh is a masterful supporting cast, including the incomparable Judi Dench as Mistress Quickly, Brian Blessed as a marvelously solid Exeter, and Ian Holm, wonderful as the irreverent and sarcastic Fluellen. On the French side, Paul Scofield's King is weary and indecisive rather than weak and mad; Michael Maloney's Dauphin is entertainingly arrogant, and Emma Thompson delivers a small but charming performance in playwright-broken English and much better French than Shakespeare likely spoke. Tying it all together is Christopher Ravenscroft, who invests the herald Mountjoy with a sympathy that extends to both sides, and a phenomenal showing by Derek Jacobi as the earnest, mocking and informative Chorus.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utter Brilliance Sept. 19 2004
Shakespeare is a beautiful form of drama. It speaks to human emotions on all level, from blithe humour to darkest evils within soul. But in today's INTERNET, hip-hop world, the appeal fades for the general masses. The Hard-Core Will addicts still treasure his tales, his prose, but younger generations think they should be modernised because it's too hard for their patience. Well, I saw 12-year-olds adoring this Branagh's Henry, and with just cause. When you find 12 and 13-years-olds watching this movie without being "forced", it tells you something of Branagh's power. The man was born to speak the words, and lead the way for others to suspend the "its too hard". Suddenly the KEY is there. Under Branagh's magic, the words have their full power, their majesty, their impact. Branagh speaks Will's words as Will intended them, with a natural ease that makes one question why we don't still speak this way!
The movie is brilliant from start to finish. Branagh is magic, a sorcerer conjuring in others the ability to follow "his pied piper". It just does not get any better than this. And Derek Jacobi is Branagh's match.
Sigh, why can they not do all Shakespeare's works on film with the same power?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, for a muse of fire... June 4 2004
Format:VHS Tape
For a first effort at feature-film direction, now-veteran director/writer/actor Kenneth Branagh provided an astonishing introduction to his many talents in filmmaking with his 1989 production, 'Henry V'. There is a gritty realism brought to the screen in this production that combines in dynamic and interesting ways with the Shakespearean dialogue and situations. The battle scenes are some of the best in cinema for depicting the kind of royal and knightly battles. A special commendation goes to cinematographer Kenneth MacMillan, art directors Martin Childs, Norman Dorme, John King, and costume designer Phyllis Dalton for combining elements of stage and screen together to complement the story perfectly without overpowering it. Indeed, the picture won the Oscar for Best Costumes; Branagh was nominated for Best Leading Actor and Best Director. The film and crew were nominated for and won many other awards as well.
One of the problems of Shakespeare on the silver screen is that the situations, settings, and acting often ends up somewhat contrived. That rarely happens here, because of this remarkable team.
The principle writing credit of course goes to William Shakespeare, but as is always the case, the play is recast to make the film medium more natural for the story. Kenneth Branagh is the one credited here, and has shown himself several times after this film as a master of adapting Shakespeare faithfully to the screen.
The play itself is one of Shakespeare's history plays -- remember the broad three categories of Shakespeare: history, drama (some say tragedy), and comedy. Like most of the history plays, there is creative license taken with the actual history, as it is invariably adapted to make the present regime look good, credible and more legitimate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Henry V -- the story of the brilliant young warrior King, hero of Agincourt and the semi-delinquent Prince of Wales from Shakespeare's Henry IV -- has always been one of the Bard's greatest plays. Now, Kenneth Branagh's debut as both screenwriter and director revitalizes that work, bringing to life a four-century-old play as if newly written, and presenting to modern moviegoers a heroic film in the class of Braveheart and Gladiator. This 1989 work is full of fire and life, not least because of a truly moving soundtrack by Patrick Doyle, as well as outstanding cinematography, Oscar-winning costume design, and world-class performances by Branagh (Henry), Emma Thompson (the French Princess Katherine), and a host of England's finest from both screen and stage.
And yet it is the story which compels, and with a little concentration, even the youngest novice quickly gets into the 17th century English and the compelling plot it reveals. Shakespeare takes us through the manipulation of King Henry into war with France (one of the later conflicts of what is collectively called The Hundred Years War), ostensibly to assert his rightful claim to the French crown. We see the increasing maturity of the young King (and the effect of that growth on his friends from Henry IV), the rooting out of treason in the camp, the initial invasion ("Once more into the breach...!"), the march across Northern France toward Calais, and then the trapping of the English army by a French force three times its size at Agincourt, where Henry's army slays 10,000 Frenchmen, losing only four knights and 25 regular troops of its own.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Adapted
There are several film versions of Shakespeare's "Henry V" available and it may be best to view each of them. However if time or money is short then this is the one to watch. Read more
Published 12 months ago by bernie
1.0 out of 5 stars henry v
j'ai détesté ce film en premier j'étais sur qu'il était en francais mais il est en anglais et on dirait du théâtre je ne le recommande pas,mais... Read more
Published 22 months ago by koskys
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
This is an excellent modern portrayal of Shakespeare's Henry V. Kenneth Brannagh does a great job as Henry V. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 2011 by Cookes for Christ
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing!
This work is a strange hybrid between a filmed theatrical performance and a full-fledged movie production. Many scenes are just static and stage-like. Read more
Published on May 15 2011 by Pierre Gauthier
4.0 out of 5 stars SUPER
Published on Aug. 22 2008 by D. Ettorre
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Film, Less than Great Transfer
Kenneth Branagh's splendid Henry V is the best Shakespeare film of the last forty years. Unfortunately, the picture quality of this DVD is only so-so. Read more
Published on May 1 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars "Cry Harry! England! And Saint George!!!"
Kenneth Branagh is truly inspired. As both the director and lead actor he is simply superb. Of all the Oscars this was nominated for, including Best Actor and Best Director for... Read more
Published on March 2 2004 by D. Knouse
5.0 out of 5 stars This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England....
From various reference sources, in brief, here's the historical background both to Shakespeare's play and to this film. Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2004 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn to love Shakespeare.
It's hard to believe that this is Branagh's first screenwriting and directing effort. Either one would be an immense task, but both is really impressive. Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2004 by J. Tyler
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film
I've always been a fan of Branagh's work, so I had been looking forward to watching his film interpretation of Shakespeare's "Henry V. Read more
Published on Nov. 21 2003 by Peter Swift
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