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Henry V [Blu-ray]


Price: £5.41 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Laurence Olivier, Robert Newton, Leslie Banks, Esmond Knight, Leo Genn
  • Directors: Laurence Olivier
  • Producers: Laurence Olivier, Filippo Del Giudice
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: ITV Studios
  • DVD Release Date: 19 Oct. 2009
  • Run Time: 137 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002KERM1O
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,342 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Laurence Olivier directs and stars in this classic adaptation of Shakespeare's play about the king who led England to victory in the Battle of Agincourt. The film pays tribute to its origins by opening in a version of the Globe Theatre in 17th century London, where Henry (Olivier) takes to the stage along with a variety of nobles to discuss his plans to stake a claim to the French throne. As the range of Henry's ambitions make themselves known, the theatrical artifice gives way to a more naturalised style and follows Henry as he sets sail from Southampton with his army. Inspired by Henry, the invading English hand the French several defeats, culminating in a triumph against far superior numbers at Agincourt. Shot during WWII, the film was designed to raise morale in the ongoing battle against Nazi Germany and earned Olivier an Academy Award for his 'outstanding achievement' in bringing the film to screen.

From Amazon.co.uk

The definitive call to arms, Laurence Olivier's Henry V is a patriotic saga awash with pageantry, battles, romance and political chicanery. Intended to rally Britain during the darkest days of World War II, the film shows how the star of England sought to stake an ancestral, royal claim on the soil of France. Olivier once said, famously, that "it isn't until you're older that you can understand the pictorial beauty of heroism". And at the ripe age of 37, the actor essays an insouciant character endowed with great powers of strength, spirit, and intellect. From the moment Olivier strides on screen, the audience is held both rapt and willingly captive. During his magnificent "St. Crispin's Day" speech, Olivier refuses to indulge in excessive personal close-ups, choosing instead to depict the communal impact of his words on the troops. Though he understands the importance of clear, realistic communication, Olivier the director also displays a penchant for artifice--as exemplified by his decision to open the film in a replica of the Globe Theatre. The play's various diplomatic exchanges--usually of the dull, obligatory variety--are enlivened through touches of light comedy: a sly wind blows court papers over the set as courtiers argue over boundaries and treaties. There is also humour to be found in the King's taciturn romancing of Princess Katharine (Renée Asherson). But there are also plenty of large-scale events, with Olivier demonstrating the fleetness of Shakespeare's world even as he mimics the headlong rush of destruction. A romanticised film of a nation at war, the director leaves no doubt that the British victory over the French at Agincourt (1415) was Medieval England's and the King's finest military triumph. The film is rendered complete by William Walton's magnificent score, which pushes all the appropriate patriotic buttons. For his efforts, Olivier received a special Oscar "for his outstanding achievement as actor, producer, and director in bringing Henry V to the screen". --Kevin Mulhall --This text refers to the DVD edition.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 68 people found the following review helpful By the antiquary on 28 Oct. 2009
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
1080p, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (dual mono), English subtitles only, but very clear and well-lettered. 1.33:1 aspect ratio - which most importantly for those with odd plasmas like mine that decide to put sidebars in distracting light grey, ITV have thoughtfully centred the film within their own black background.

Extras:
A very, very interesting and instructional commentary by some film historian called Bruce, artistically in every way you'll learn that Olivier knew what he was about. Portrait stills of the actors. Promotional material - posters and flyers. A fantastic digital copy of the original 'Lecture Material' that was distributed with reels for instructional use in 'factories and schools'. Very educational.

The front cover does not lie - this be clear and bright and the vivid mediaeval colours are faithfully brought back to life. Specially remastered for this release it is a blu-ray success story. Finally you can see the film you've only seen before in the beaming still photos. Do realise though that this be old; there are a rare few shots which have not stood the test of time and colour stability can fluctuate.

As for the film itself, this is stirring stuff and for many reasons, Olivier not the least, the play will never be bettered at the cinema. The production sets are obviously fake and stagey but done stylistically in a wonderful and atmospheric way based on mediaeval paintings and are not shown-up by blu-ray detail - in fact I wondered how they managed to put a faraway castle on a real hill - was it cardboard, did they paint on film, superimpose? Even the outside location filming is excellent.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Doctor John on 27 Oct. 2009
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Here I compare the ITV/DVD Blu-ray release of Henry V with the 10-year-old Criterion (Region 1) DVD release.

There is no comparison in terms of picture quality. ITV have done an exceptional digital restoration of the 1944 color film, such that it must look about as good as when first released a year later. The unmodified print that Criterion used a decade ago suffered from numerous problems that made watching it a less-than-pleasurable experience. Now one can focus - in high-definition - on the terrific staging, editing and (of course) dialogue. I know this was a wartime propaganda version of the play, but Olivier somehow made this film emblematic of a larger and timeless aspect of British history.

For North Americans this "B"-locked disc is a strong argument to purchase a region-free blu-ray player. There are apparently many outstanding British films to be released in coming months in region-locked format (e.g., all of the Bfi catalog) that require such a machine, and if they all look as good as Henry V (1944) it's a no-brainer.

Kudos to the restoration team at ITV/DVD. And too bad for Criterion - they seem to be behind the curve on blu-ray releases of film classics from the mid-20th century.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Mar. 2002
Format: DVD
For anyone who has never seen this film, this DVD is a must. Olivier's translation of Shakespeare to the screen is still a masterpiece and stands comparison with modern films such as Shakespeare in Love. Granted, the images are slightly hazy in a few places, and Walton's fine music suffers from old recording techniques and mono presentation. But these quibbles fall aside in the face of superb acting, wonderful re-creation of the Globe Theatre and a chuckle-making insight into acting practices and audience reactions of the day. The film moves seamlessly between The Globe itself and realistic sequences like the Battle of Agincourt, via semi-stylised representations reminding us of the Book of Hours. There are no subtitles, but (joy!) they are not needed, for this film was made before the days of mumbling actors. The opening 15 minutes of this film alone are worth the very modest price of this DVD.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 Sept. 2000
Format: DVD
Shakespeare's Henry V tells the story of the battle of Agincourt, in which a small English force faced and defeated a vastly superior French army. This battle clearly demonstrated the superiority of the English longbow against the French cavalry. In Shakespeare's time it provided an excellent vehicle for propoganda.
Laurence Olivier directed this film version in 1944. Then, as the second world war was raging, the story again provided an excellent vehicle for boosting national morale.
But the film is more than that. It is an excellent interpretation of one of Shakespeare's best known and loved plays. It is full of Shakespeare's magnificent language, including great lines such as; "Once more unto the breach, dear friends". It is a sensitive portrayal of a leader taking his troops into battle and worrying about the consequences for his men, where Henry disguises himself as a commoner to walk among the troops on the eve of the battle to judge their mood ("a little touch of Harry in the night").
Olivier recognised the difficulties of filming Shakespeare and making it believable, and making it work on the screen. He therefore used the genial device of setting the film in the theatre of Shakespere's time, showing how the theatre operated, the mistakes of the actors and the reactions of the audience. In this setting the language of Shakespeare also works in the cinema. Having sensitised the audience to the environment, the viewer is transported to the "real" world of Henry V. The climax of the film comes with the charge of the French cavalry and the responding volley of the English archers, enhanced by the magnificent score composed by William Walton. This is one of the finest moments in cinema history.
The film includes excellent performances.
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