Henry V (1944)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB

Alternate title:  The Chronicle History Of King Henry the Fift With His Battell At Agincourt In France

United Kingdom, 1944.  Two Cities Films.  Based on the play by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by . Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Podcast: My Criterions.  

Laurence Olivier brought dramatic Shakespeare to the sound and colour screen for the first time, proving that even a historical play done in highly stylized prose could be exciting and entertaining. Its splashy colours and full-blooded performances contribute greatly to telling the story of the English king (played by Olivier) who defeated the insolent French at the battle of Agincourt only to be set upon by a crisis of conscience. Should might make right, and is war always the answer to solving problems between two unfriendly countries? We find out what he learns in the end when he woos the French princess onto his throne. Made near the end of World War II (shooting was often interrupted to watch fighter planes go by in the British skies), it even provides the added treat of showing the first half hour being performed in a recreation of a sixteenth-century theatre, giving a first-rate view of how Shakespeare was presented in his day before the film goes into a more cinematic format. Olivier followed this wonderful directorial debut with two more marvelous Shakespeare films, Hamlet and Richard III. He received Best Actor Academy Award Nominations for all three, winning for his portrayal of the Danish prince.

The Criterion Collection:  #41

Academy Award:  Special Award to Laurence Olivier
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (Laurence Olivier); Best Art Direction-Colour; Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

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