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Movie Review

Henry V

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for a bloody battle

Reviewed by: Ryan Kelly
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
15 to Adult
Genre:
Biography History War Action Romance Drama Adaptation
Length:
2 hr. 17 min.
Year of Release:
1989
Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Relevant Issues

faith

war in biblical times

army

swords

kings

hanged

stealing

“Henry V” is a wonderful screen rendition of Shakespeare’s classic play penned in the late 1500's. Kenneth Branagh directs himself in this blockbuster film also featuring Derek Jacobi and Emma Thompson.

“Henry V” is a tale of honor, perseverance, loyalty, and romance. King Henry the Fifth of England (Kenneth Branagh), thinking he has a right to the French throne, matches military forces against the French. The English forces are out numbered nearly 5-1, but they love their king and are willing to lay their lives down for him.

In his play, Shakespeare calls Henry the Fifth the “mirror of all Christian kings.” This film shows seldom seen or heard tributes to God and his sovereignty. Henry’s trust is in the Lord for the outcome of the battle.

The extent of the bad language in this film is the use of the word bastard occasionally. Near the end of the film, Henry courts the French Princess Katherine (Emma Thompson). This short and sweet courtship features a proposal that climaxes (to Shakespeare’s and the film writers credit) only with a kiss.

The reason for not recommending this film to younger viewers is a graphic battle scene between the English and French armies. There is also a short scene where a soldier is hanged for stealing, which would not be suitable for young viewers. Also, many children will not understand most of the dialogue, as it is spoken in Old English as it was written.

Kenneth Branagh as Henry the Fifth portrays the king in a breathtaking manner. Henry’s soliloquies, including the famous speech on Saint Crispin’s Day, could not have been better performed. The musical score adds to this film’s excellence.

“Henry V” is both an educational and entertaining film, and promotes many Christian values. Rent this movie for your family to watch, and then read the original play!

Viewer Comments
Positive—My favourite version of my favourite Shakespeare play—a classic tale of raw courage, heroism, camaraderie, and victory against the goods, and of course, with more than a slight helping of English patriotism.

Some have complained about it being historically inaccurate, and Shakespeare did indeed take some liberties with the facts, but, by and large, except on a cosmetic level, it’s fairly authentic, and represents the view of history current at the time (about 200 years after the events).

Other have complained about the anti-French bias, but I argue that it was not anti-French to anything like the extent that movies such as “Braveheart” or “The Messenger: Joan of Arc,” are anti-English. These are downright racist, and woefully inaccurate, this is not so guilty on either count.

So those seeking a Medieval movie free of the modern political correctness, bedroom scenes (there are a few double entendres and the occasional innuendo) and anti-Christian bias that blights so many modern Medieval Movies, this is a good choice.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—MedievalGirl, age 26 (United Kingdom)