Skip to content

Directed by Laurence Olivier

United Kingdom 1944 137 mins. In English

Tasked by Winston Churchill to create a rousing piece of morale-boosting, pro-British entertainment during the twilight years of World War II, revered thespian Laurence Olivier had his work cut out for him. Many previous attempts to translate Shakespeare to the screen had been met with lackluster, commercially unsuccessful results. But Henry V perfectly captured the cultural zeitgeist through both Olivier’s assured direction and the inescapable parallels between the eponymous king’s conquest of France and the wartime world of 1944 (not to mention Churchill’s uncanny nose for propaganda—it was no accident that the film’s release coincided with the Allied invasion of Normandy). Seven decades later, Henry V remains a stirring and surprisingly inventive take on Shakespeare’s play, morphing from a staged production set in the Globe Theatre to a breathless cavalry charge on the fields of Agincourt. “The movies have produced one of their rare great works of art.”—Time Magazine.