The true story of King Henry V of England
and his conquest of France in 1415.
Henry V (1944)
Directed by Laurence Olivier
Written by Laurence Olivier, Dallas Bower, Alan Dent
Starring Laurence Olivier, Renée Asherson, Robert Newton,
Leslie Banks, Felix Aylmer, Robert Helpmann, Morland Graham
Based on the stage play by William Shakespeare
Oscar Wins - Honorary Award (Laurence Olivier)
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Laurence Olivier), Best Art Direction, Best Original Score (William Walton)
I will never understand this fervor for Shakespeare films in the 40's. It's not so much that they were made, but that they were huge critical and financial successes. Laurence Olivier brought his love of the Bard to the big screen, and it made him a star. Frankly, I don't think it should've. From what I've seen of his work so far, I'm starting to think Olivier was a bit of an over-actor and undeserving of so much praise, especially today. When I look at some of his contemporaries (James Stewart, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Garland, Humphrey Bogart, etc.), I see so much more raw talent and versatility. Henry V soured me for Olivier. It's so unapologetically boring, and every performer is so exaggerated that it feels like someone filmed a school play.
King Henry V of England is considered one of England's greatest leaders. He was humble, good-natured, and an expert strategist. I learned in the 2019 biopic The King that he never wanted the crown, and was compelled to take it after the death of his brother. In Olivier's version, we are essentially watching a bunch of morons put on a play about Henry V's conquest of France, with occasional cutaways to the actual war. I haven't read Shakespeare's play, but regardless of who thought it up, that's a really stupid way to present the story of Henry V.
I really liked 2015's Macbeth. Maybe it was the performances, maybe it was the production design. Maybe that particular play makes sense to me. But so far, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Henry V have all failed to resonate with me. Henry V is definitely the worst of the ones I've seen, and it made me rethink my feelings about Laurence Olivier's so-called unmatched talent.