Henry V is a 1944 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play of the same name. The on-screen title is The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (the title of the 1600 quarto edition of the play). It stars Laurence Olivier, who also directed. The play was adapted for the screen by Olivier, Dallas Bower, and Alan Dent. The score is by William Walton.
The film begins as a recreation of a stage production of the play in the Globe Theatre, then gradually turns into a stylized cinematic rendition of the play, with sets reminiscent of a medieval Book of Hours. It follows the overall pattern of Shakespeare's play, depicting Henry's campaign in France, through the siege of Harfleur, the battle near Agincourt and eventually to the Treaty of Troyes and marriage between Henry and Princess Katherine. The film then shows the Battle of Agincourt in a real setting, after which the film quickly begins to revert to backdrops that conversely now become more and more artificial. It ends with Henry's courtship of Princess Katherine. At the end of the scene, the setting reverts to the Globe Playhouse and the audience applauding.
The film was made near the end of World War II and was intended as a morale booster for Britain. Consequently, the film was partly funded by the British government. The movie won Olivier an Academy Honorary Award for "his Outstanding achievement as actor, producer and director in bringing Henry V to the screen."
The original setting was inaccessible, as it was located in German-occupied France at the time, so the film was shot in Enniskerry, Co.Wicklow, Ireland.
Photographed in three-strip Technicolor, the picture was hailed by critics for its ebulliently colourful sets and costumes, as well as for Olivier's masterful direction and acting. Pauline Kael called the movie "a triumph of color, music, spectacle and soaring heroic poetry". James Agee reported, in Time magazine's April 8, 1946 issue, that a remarkable 75 percent of the color footage shot was used in the final release. Even by British standards, this was an exceptionally high figure. For a first-time director it was unheard of.
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