Henry V
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Produced by: Bruce Sharman
Written by: William Shakespeare
Executive producer(s): Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson,
Derek Jacobi, Brian Blessed,
Ian Holm
Runtime: 137 mins.
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English/French
Production companies: Renaissance Films
Distributed by: MGM
Released on: Nov. 9, 1989
Budget: $9 million

Henry V is a 1989 film directed by Kenneth Branagh, and based upon the Shakespeare play. Branagh stars in the title role. Derek Jacobi, Brian Blessed, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane, Christian Bale, Dame Judi Dench, Paul Scofield, Jimmy Yuill and Emma Thompson are also featured.

It was produced by Bruce Sharman with the British Broadcasting Corporation and Renaissance Films.

The visual and verbal styles of the film are much grittier than the Laurence Olivier film (see: Henry V (1944), particularly with respect to the Battle of Agincourt scenes, which are strongly reminiscent of the battle scenes in the films of Akira Kurosawa. The film's budget was $9 million.

Henry V received near-universal critical acclaim for Branagh's Oscar-nominated performance and direction, for the accessibility of its Shakespearean language and particularly for its music by first-time composer Patrick Doyle, which was performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Simon Rattle.

The film grossed $10 million in the U.S. and at the time of its widest release played on 134 U.S. screens. Phyllis Dalton won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design and the film was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Branagh) and Best Director (Branagh).


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.
Henry V Branagh

King Henry V of England (Branagh) is encouraged to go to war with the king of France by his religious advisors to advance a dubious claim to the French throne. When the king of France insults Henry with a gift of tennis balls, Henry is moved to go to war.

After uncovering a plot against him at home, Henry leads his army into battle against France, most notably in the bloody Battle of Agincourt, which becomes a rout of the overconfident French forces.

During the military campaign, the young king struggles with the poor morale of his troops and his own inner turmoil. He walks among his troops in disguise the night before Agincourt to rally the men's spirits and rationalize their cause as just, because the king himself is just.

The war ends with the king's betrothal to the French king's daughter (Thompson). The narrator (Jacobi) notes that all that Henry accomplished would be reversed during Henry's son's reign.

Spoilers end here.


Actor Role
Kenneth Branagh King Henry V
Derek Jacobi Chorus
Brian Blessed Exeter
Emma Thompson Katherine
Christopher Ravenscroft Montjoy
Robbie Coltrane Falstaff
Robert Stephens Pistol
Ian Holm Fluellen

Selected quotesEdit

  • "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; or close the wall up with our English dead!" - Branagh as Henry V
  • "Customs curtsy to great kings. We are the makers of manners, Kate." - Branagh as Henry V, to Thompson as Katherine
  • "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers." - Henry V
  • "To England will I steal, and there... I'll steal." - Robert Stephens as Pistol


  • The film was shot entirely in sequence.
  • The London costumers Angels & Bermans provided most of the costumes for the film, as they did for the 1944 version of the film starring Sir Laurence Olivier

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