Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kenneth Branagh, Paul Scofield, Derek Jacobi, Ian Holm, Emma Thompson, Alec McCowen, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, Brian Blessed, Christian Bale
Written by: Kenneth Branagh, based on a play by William Shakespeare
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for a bloody battle
Running Time: 137
Date: 10/06/1989

Henry V (1989)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Once More Unto the Breach

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Kenneth Branagh's audacious debut, Henry V (1989), was made when he was just 29 (and partly financed by the sales of his autobiography!). In England, Laurence Oliver's 1944 version was considered the definitive screen version, and many were aghast that anyone would ever even attempt a remake. But Branagh pulled it off spectacularly, creating one of the best of all screen Shakespeare adaptations, and earning dual Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Actor. His muddy, bloody "once more unto the breach, dear friends!" speech is every bit as rousing as Olivier's. Look for young Christian Bale the "luggage boy." Robbie Coltrane makes a fun Falstaff, effectively folded into this play, and tragically denounced by Henry when he becomes king ("I know thee not, old man.") Patrick Doyle's stirring musical score is one of the best of its time, and the movie took home one Oscar for its costume design.

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