HENRY V (1989)

HENRY V (1989) 1


The gritty adaption of William Shakespeare’s play about the English King’s bloody conquest of France.


“Henry V” is a tale of two sides to the same man. Prince Hal and his adult form of Henry V are arrogant bastards that charge into battle headfirst. Branagh keeps true to Shakespeare’s original work by showing lush battles and epic power plays while remaining critical of Henry. But, none of that mattered. Branagh made Shakespeare cool for the 1980s and helped to usher in a new age of impressive adaptations that remain as testaments to his abilities to this day. If you haven’t seen his “Hamlet”, then you need to educate yourself.

Branagh approaches Shakespeare with the cinematic authority usually afforded to Olivier. The problem with the comparison with this title is that Olivier’s version of “Henry V” was pretty campy. For some reason, Olivier was never able to play Henry as a brash upstart who lucked his way into power and then rode his influence over the modern world. Some scholars have accused Henry V of being an overly patriotic Brit tale for the Thatcher era. Honestly, it doesn’t matter as patriotic leanings have been read into the tale during times of major strife in England. This is a film, a play, a legend about where arrogance ends and leadership begins. The Battle of Agincourt remains one of those times in history that the fiction and truth blend to capture an era with a majesty that true warriors clamor for in their hearts. While not Branagh’s best, “Henry V” is definitely in the Top 3.

The Blu-Ray comes with the original trailer as the special features. The A/V Quality is amazing for an older release. The 1080p transfer pops with deep plum coloring and burgundy backdrops. The DTS-HD 2.0 master audio track remains the cleanest I’ve ever heard the film. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.

RELEASE DATE: 01/27/2015

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