DVD Henry V [DVD] [Criterion Collection] (DVD 23558),
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Henry V [DVD] [Criterion Collection]

  • NR
  • DVD
  • 1 disc
  • Region 1 USA/CA (info)
  • The film was previewed in the U.S. on April 17, 1946. The original theatrical release print of was 127 minutes. The current cut stands at 136 minutes. The film was shot on location in Ireland, with local farmers and townsfolk working as extras. HENRY V marked the directorial debut for British actor Laurence Olivier. The film's opening sequence features a reconstruction of 16th-century London and Shakespeare's own Globe Theatre. In actuality the set was modeled after the Swan, a theater walking distance from the Globe, because the design of the Swan had been better documented than that of the Globe. Olivier's first choice of director was William Wyler, who passed on the film. Olivier's then-wife Vivien Leigh wanted to play Katherine, but her studio wouldn't release her to play such a small role. At a final cost of more than $2 million, HENRY V was at the time the most expensive British film ever made. The surreal and fairy-tale-like world of Henry's 15th century is depicted as segments of medieval manuscript illustrations. Some scenes are directly modeled from the illuminations of a prayer book entitled THE BOOK OF HOURS. The film was produced when British patriotism was high, serving as an important WWII propaganda tool. Hence some of Henry's cruelty toward his old drinking companions had been cut from the finished script. In keeping with the spirit of the play, the wartime propaganda of "Englishmen as underdogs," and indeed history itself, the French army is depicted as extremely well armed and encased in heavy, cumbersome armor--restricting their movement. In fact, during the early part of the 15th century the French pioneered the wearing of steel cuirasses (breast plates) that greatly limited mobility but increased the ability to fight on horseback--making the French cavalry a deadly military machine. The English forces had been lightly armored and had the tendency to arrive at the battle on horseback and dismount in order to fight. Because the actual site at Agincourt had been muddy, the French and their heavily armored horses charged into the lines of English arrow fire and ended up slipping and sliding all over the battlefield in their attempt to retreat.

    Academy Awards Special Achievement Awards 1946 Laurence Olivier Actor/Director/Producer, HAMLET (1948)

  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): HEN30

  • Credits
    Laurence Olivier, Laurence Olivier, Laurence Olivier, Robert Newton, Leslie Banks, Esmond Knight, Leo Genn, Felix Aylmer, Felix Aylmer, Ralph Truman, Harcourt Williams, Ernest Thesiger, Max Adrian, Valentine Dyall, John Laurie, George Robey, Roy Emerton
  • Critic Reviews
    "...If you're looking for Olivier the young classicist at work, here's the best display of his talents..."
    Entertainment Weekly

    4 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t is Olivier's towering performance as the inspirational king that still stirs the blood."

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