Henry V (1989) - Rotten Tomatoes

Henry V (1989)



Critic Consensus: Pehaps Kenneth Branagh's most fully realized Shakespeare adaptation, Henry V is an energetic, passionate, and wonderfully acted film.

Movie Info

Kenneth Branagh makes his feature-film directorial debut with this adaptation of William Shakespeare's +Henry V. After the Chorus (Derek Jacobi) introduces the play, young king of England Henry V (Kenneth Branagh) begins an angry dialogue with King Charles of France (Paul Scofield). The king's son, Dauphin (Michael Maloney), insults Henry and the argument escalates into war. In flashback, Henry is seen as a young man drinking in a tavern with Falstaff (Robbie Coltrane), Bardolph (Richard Briers), Nym (Geoffrey Hutchings), Pistol (Robert Stephens), and Mistress Quickly (Judi Dench). Meanwhile, Henry and his captain, Fluellen (Ian Holm), assemble an army and invade France. The French greatly outnumber the British troops, yet Henry leads them to victory in the Battle of Agincourt after delivering his famous St. Crispin's Day Speech. Throughout this struggle, Henry also courts Katherine (Emma Thompson) and eventually wins her over.

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Ian Holm
as Fluellen
Simon Shepherd
as Duke of Gloucester
James Larkin
as Bedford
Paul Gregory
as Earl of Westmoreland
Charles Kay
as Archbishop of Canterbury
Alec McCowen
as Bishop of Ely
Edward Jewesbury
as Sir Thomas Erpingham
Danny Webb
as Capt. Gower
John Sessions
as Capt. MacMorris
Pat Doyle
as Court
Richard Briers
as Lt. Bardolph
Robert Stephens
as Ancient Pistol
Robbie Coltrane
as Sir John Falstaff
Christian Bale
as Falstaff's Boy
Judi Dench
as Mistress Quickly
Paul Scofield
as French King
Richard Innocent
as Duke of Burgundy
Richard Clifford
as Duke of Orleans
Colin Hurley
as Grandpre
Richard Easton
as Constable of France
Emma Thompson
as Princess Katherine
David Lloyd Meredith
as Governor of Harfleur
David Parfitt
as Messenger
Nigel Greaves
as Duke of Berri
Mark Inman
as Soldier #1
Chris Armstrong
as Soldier #2
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News & Interviews for Henry V

Critic Reviews for Henry V

All Critics (40) | Top Critics (14)

Branagh has made a hotblooded, lively and moving Henry V that speaks pertinently to a new generation.

June 12, 2020 | Full Review…

There is a great deal of value in Branagh`s version, not least in his own lead performance as a soft, indefinite Henry who defines himself over the course of the play.

November 27, 2019 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

If Olivier gave us the glint of sunlight on armor and the wind roaring through the pennants and flags, Branagh gives us the rot, the mold, the wounds and the crusted blood underneath.

November 27, 2019 | Full Review…

There's a boldness to Branagh's Henry V, which shows off the cinematic possibilities of Shakespeare without a lot of distracting razzle-dazzle.

February 4, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

A stirring, gritty and enjoyable pic which offers a plethora of fine performances from some of the U.K.'s brightest talents.

July 1, 2008 | Full Review…

It might never be as famous as Olivier's, but it should carry considerable clout for years to come.

July 1, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Henry V


The Branaugh take on Shakespeare starts here with the film that had everyone comparing him to Larry Olivier. It is possible that we embraced this first very good Shakespearean film since Olivier a little easily. Branaugh is no Olivier after all and this film is not as good as Larry's in '44.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Good. But too much left out.

Christian C
Christian C

Super Reviewer


Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Shakespeare's play was his directorial debut and at the time many balked at the very idea that this young whipper snapper could dare to get in the ring with Laurence Olivier and his then definitive version. This film is a completely different proposition however, choosing to use the cinematic medium to great effect to breathe gritty, believable life into the characters and story. He is of course backed up by probably the finest assemblance of Shakespearian talent whose pedigree shines through in a faultless collection of performances, from the arrogance and politicking of the nobles to the earthy pathos of the common soldier. Even the uninitiated who can be intimidated by the seemingly inpenetrable prose should be able to follow the plot because of the clever use of performance and realism to convey the meaning of the florid dialogue, but I must admit from time to time I wished I had some Cliff notes to aid my understanding of the nuances. The battle scenes are recreated in a way obviously influenced by John Boorman's Excalibur, all sweat and blood and filth, and to echo the modern climate offers a more human portrayal of bloodshed on such an epic scale. The highlights are of course all provided by Branagh's excellent and naturalistic interpretation of Henry (although Paul Scofield's subtle performance as the melancholy King of France is near its equal), most notably his pre-battle speeches which inspire without the clodhopping patriotic manipulation you have seen in everything from Braveheart to Independence Day. His inexperience behind the camera tells occasionally as he gets a little slo-mo happy and the battle is a little confusing, but as a whole it's a great achievement.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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