7.3/10
4,494
46 user 35 critic

Henry V (1944)

The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fifth with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (original title)
Not Rated | | Biography, Drama, History | 17 June 1946 (USA)
Trailer
6:07 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
In the midst of the Hundred Years' War in 1415, the young King Henry V of England embarks on the conquest of France.

Director:

Writer:

(play) (as Will Shakespeare)
Reviews
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 8 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Richard III (1955)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Shakespeare's powerful tale of the wicked deformed king and his conquests, both on the battlefield and in the boudoir.

Director: Laurence Olivier
Stars: Laurence Olivier, Cedric Hardwicke, Nicholas Hannen
Hamlet (1948)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Prince Hamlet struggles over whether or not he should kill his uncle, whom he suspects has murdered his father, the former king.

Director: Laurence Olivier
Stars: Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, John Laurie
Henry V (1989)
Action | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In the midst of the Hundred Years' War in 1415, the young King Henry V of England embarks on the conquest of France.

Director: Kenneth Branagh
Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Simon Shepherd
Othello (1965)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A general's marriage is destroyed when a vengeful lieutenant convinces him that his new wife has been unfaithful.

Director: Stuart Burge
Stars: Laurence Olivier, Frank Finlay, Robert Lang
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A servant in the house of Wuthering Heights tells a traveler the unfortunate tale of lovers Cathy and Heathcliff.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, David Niven
Adventure | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A humble orphan suddenly becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor.

Director: David Lean
Stars: John Mills, Valerie Hobson, Tony Wager
La Ronde (1950)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An all-knowing interlocutor guides us through a series of affairs in Vienna, 1900. A soldier meets an eager young lady of the evening. Later he has an affair with a young lady, who becomes ... See full summary »

Director: Max Ophüls
Stars: Anton Walbrook, Simone Signoret, Serge Reggiani
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The story of courtesan and dance-hall girl Emma Hamilton, including her relationships with Sir William Hamilton and Admiral Horatio Nelson and her rise and fall, set during the Napoleonic Wars.

Director: Alexander Korda
Stars: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Alan Mowbray
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Edouard is a pianist, married with Caroline. This evening, they are invited to Claude's. Claude is the snobbish uncle of Caroline, his son Alain (as snobbish as his father) is in love with ... See full summary »

Director: Jacques Becker
Stars: Daniel Gélin, Anne Vernon, Elina Labourdette
Adventure | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Queen Elizabeth is running this show. The men in her court should be thinking about how to add to the glory of the Elizabethan Age and how to foil those pesky Spanish who got far too much ... See full summary »

Director: William K. Howard
Stars: Laurence Olivier, Flora Robson, Vivien Leigh
Le Plaisir (1952)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Three stories about the pleasure. The first one is about a man hiding his age behind a mask to keep going to balls and fancying women - pleasure and youth. Then comes the long tale of Mme ... See full summary »

Director: Max Ophüls
Stars: Jean Gabin, Danielle Darrieux, Simone Simon
Comedy | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The career of Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff as roistering companion to young Prince Hal, circa 1400-1413.

Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Margaret Rutherford
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Felix Aylmer ...
...
Vernon Greeves ...
Gerald Case ...
...
Morland Graham ...
Nicholas Hannen ...
Michael Warre ...
...
Ralph Truman ...
...
Duke of Berri - French Ambassador
Frederick Cooper ...
Roy Emerton ...
...
Edit

Storyline

In the inspired Olivier concept, Shakespeare's play begins as a performance in the Globe Theatre, shifting in broad cinematic terms to an epic narrative of Henry V, who had developed from a dissolute youth to a purposeful monarch. Proving his ability as a soldier and skillful leader, he unites the dissident factions in the English army and goes on to crush the French, against enormous odds, at Agincourt. Arranging a treaty with the French court, he woos Princess Katharine to whom he is formally betrothed as part of the peace agreement. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Laurence Olivier's Presentation in Technicolor of Henry V


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

17 June 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Henry V  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

£475,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

As a tribute to his abilities as a director, and uncertain over his own unproved directing abilities, Laurence Olivier originally invited William Wyler, who had directed Olivier in Wuthering Heights (1939), to direct. It was Wyler whom Olivier always credited with teaching him how to give a more subtle performance in films and with giving him more respect for the art of acting in film. Wyler, however, declined, saying, "If it's Shakespeare, it must be you [who directs the film]". See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Chorus: O! for a Muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention; a kingdom for a stage, princes to act and monarchs to behold the swelling scene. Then should the war-like Harry, like himself, assume the port of Mars; and at his heels, leashed in like hounds, would famine, word, and fire crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles all, the flat unraised spirits that hath dared on this unworthy scaffold to bring forth so great an object: can this cockpit hold the vasty ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The advertising poster for the film's first U.S. run (in 1946) billed it as "A Two City Film" when it should have read "A Two Cities Film", as it does in the film's actual opening credits. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Yellow Submarine (1968) See more »

Soundtracks

Baïlèro
(uncredited)
Folk song from the Auvergne, France
Arranged by William Walton
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
"Still be kind, and eke out our performance with your mind"
22 December 2007 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

It's perhaps surprising that when people from a theatrical background turn to film directing, they tend to produce pictures that are purely cinematic and freed from staginess. This is the case with Laurence Olivier, as it was with Rouben Mamoulian and Orson Welles. Here, with his debut feature as director, Olivier not only created a landmark propaganda film, but also redefined the screen Shakespeare adaptation and established a new precedent of renowned actor turning competent director.

Shakespeare's play of Henry V was of course ideal for a wartime morale booster, featuring as it does heroic action, rousing speeches, historical parallels with the landings at France, a protagonist who is valiant yet warm and humane, as well as plenty of little extra touches such as exploring the psychology of the troops on the eve of battle and stressing the need for unity between English, Irish, Scotch and Welsh. It was also the perfect play for Olivier to test his ideas on how a Shakespeare play should be turned into a film. The chorus of Shakespeare's original text tells the audience that the great battles and courts can scarcely be contained on a stage and that you must "on your imaginative forces work". Using this idea as his starting point, Olivier begins the film with a recreation of a contemporary production of the original play at the Globe theatre, complete with backstage glimpses, bumbling actors and a rowdy Elizabethan audience. Then, as Leslie Banks' chorus commands the audience to "work your thoughts", the theatre disappears, and the action subtly opens out into larger sets. Eventually, we are transported to location with thousands of extras for the climactic battle scene.

This was not only a complete reworking of screen Shakespeare, it was part of a whole approach to cinema. Olivier's Henry V, although totally different in content, is stylistically in the same tradition as Michael Powell's The Red Shoes or the elaborate ballet sequences of MGM musicals, which also expand would-be stage performances into pure cinematic fantasy. The originator of this approach was probably Busby Berkeley, who also made the switch from stage to screen, albeit from the music hall to the role of choreographer for screen musicals. The musical sequences that Berkeley constructed for Warner Brothers musicals in the mid-1930s always begin with a stage production, but then turn into tour-de-forces of choreography, camera positioning and massive sets, all of which could never be contained or properly appreciated on a stage. Olivier is effectively doing the same thing with a Shakespeare play as Berkeley did with a dancing chorus line.

Of course, all this alone isn't what makes Henry V a great work. For a first-time director Olivier's eye is remarkably sharp. He keeps the action smooth in dialogue scenes by making use of long takes, and preferring to move the camera to change the framing rather than breaking the shot with a cut, often dollying in on a single actor to achieve a close-up. He's not quite experienced enough yet though to give these shots a really natural flow, and he doesn't really get the chance to show off his talents as a dramatic director as he would later in Hamlet and Richard III. Having said that, he does manage to give remarkable tenderness to Henry's soliloquy on the eve of battle and his courtship of Kate towards the end of the film.

The highpoint however is the impressive Agincourt battle sequence, which was influenced by the battle in Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky, but is actually an improvement on the Russian master's equivalent work. He similarly builds up tension as the opposing army begins its charge, using a rhythmic editing pattern and dynamic close-ups. However, whereas Alexander Nevsky's battle occasionally looked obviously staged and unrealistic, in Henry V you could as well be witnessing a genuine medieval battle.

Olivier selected a top notch cast composed of actors with theatre experience like himself, with exuberant performances from Robert Newton as the cowardly Pistol and Esmond Knight as Welsh captain Fluellen, and too many other great names to mention. Olivier himself, after a decade of learning how to act for screen, perhaps relished the chance to give huge, concert-hall-filling Shakespearean delivery again, although he does manage to rein his performance in again for the quieter scenes.

Henry V is remarkable for a director's debut feature. Olivier would direct two more prestigious Shakespeare adaptations, as well as a few dramas, but Henry V is his freshest and most engaging work as a director, and still remains the best.


8 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
which do you like better and why? jamdonahoo
Why does IMDB have the title wrong? hamrick-2
Falstaff nanonta
Superscope? JosephC859
Is Henry V in Color or Black and White??? FilmBuff37
Box Office Amadeus-5
Discuss Henry V (1944) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?