The still young king of England, intending to tax the english church, is sent off to war by the bishops to enforce the (doubtful) claim to France. The King, thus sure of devine blessing for his cause, wages war on the French all too proud in overpowing strength. After the Battle of Agincourt, the French King has to yield his daughter as a peace offering. In a bitter satire, this political marriage is then portrayed as the happy ending joining the two recent lovers. —IMDb
Perhaps the best-known Shakespeare interpreter of the late 20th century, Kenneth Branagh began his career in a golden haze of critical exultation. First a star pupil at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (one of Britain’s most prestigious drama schools), then a promising newcomer on the London stage, then hailed as “the next Olivier” for his 1989 screen adaptation of Henry V, Branagh could, for a long time, do no wrong. Unfortunately, a string of bad luck, catalyzed by his disastrous Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1994, began to tarnish the halo that had hovered above the actor/director’s head. His lavish, four-hour Hamlet in 1996, however, did much to further his status as a man who knew his Bard, helping to alleviate some of the disappointments that both preceded and came after it.
Although his accent suggests otherwise, Branagh originally hails from Northern Ireland, not England. Born in Belfast December 10, 1960, to a working-class family, he was raised in the strife-ridden… read more
I didn't feel Branagh was the right choice for Henry the Fifth, I just didn't see him working in the role. The feel of the film overall was one of a stage production on screen, rather than a proper adaptation. Those tropes that work well on stage don't necessarily translate well to screen. The chorus (Derek Jacobi) was an unwelcome touch, who grew to grate on me with every appearance.
Hal's not evil, exactly, just a sad and sanguinary victim-hero of "adulthood" (note that the victory at Agincourt had zero long-term benefits for perfidious Albion). Branagh pulls off the plum gig (barely), but the real star here is Brian Blessed as Exeter: an immense badass with brains, teeth, and brawn. It's no wonder the camera often cuts to his merest facial expressions: young Branagh knew Blessed had his back.