Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

(King) Henry V (1944)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

(King) Henry V (1944, UK) (aka The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France)

In Laurence Olivier's adaptation of Shakespeare's staged play - a winner of Honorary Awards in 1946:

  • the opening sequence - a panorama of the city of London in 1600, and a view into Shakespeare's 17th century Globe Theatre (Playhouse), where a stage-bound play, Henry the Fift, was to be presented - with the remarkable transition from the theatre to the plains of Agincourt before the famous battle in 1415 A.D.
The Opening Sequence
  • the narrated prologue of Chorus (Leslie Banks) delivered on the stage to the Globe Playhouse's audience, urging them to use their imaginations: ("O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention, a kingdom for a stage, princes to act and monarchs to behold the swelling scene! Then should the warlike Harry, like himself, assume the port of Mars; and at his heels, leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire crouch for employment. But pardon, and gentles all, the flat unraised spirits that have dared on this unworthy scaffold to bring forth so great an object: Can this cockpit hold the vasty fields of France? Or may we cram within this wooden O the very casques that did affright the air at Agincourt?..On your imaginary forces work. Suppose within the girdle of these walls are now confined two mighty monarchies, whose high upreared and abutting fronts the perilous narrow ocean parts asunder: Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts. Think when we talk of horses, that you see them printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth; for 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings, carry them here and there, jumping o'er times, turning the accomplishment of many years into an hour-glass: for the which supply, admit me Chorus to this history; who prologue-like your humble patience pray, gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play")
  • the characterization of Shakespeare's Plantagenet King Henry V (Oscar-nominated Laurence Olivier)
  • the scene of King Henry V's first rousing, morale-boosting battle speech as he exhorted his troops for battle against the French at the siege of Harfleur (outside the walls), astride his horse, garbed in armor and swinging his sword: ("Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our English dead. In peace there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility. But when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger. Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood. Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage. Then lend the eye a terrible aspect. Let pry through the portage of the head like the brass cannon. Let the brow o'erwhelm it as fearfully as doth a galled rock o'erhang and jutty his confounded base, swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean. Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide, Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit to his full height. On, on, you noblest English whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!...")
  • King Henry's St. Crispin's Day address-speech to his weary troops before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415: ("This story shall the good man teach his son and Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by, from this day to the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remember'd; we few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother, be he ne'er so base. And gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Crispin's Day")
  • the magnificently-created Battle of Agincourt war scene - both stylized and realistic (with archers letting forth a volley of arrows), with Britain's victory over the French in 1415
  • the subsequence sequence of King Henry's courting of Princess Katherine (Renee Asherson)

Shakespeare's Plantagenet King Henry V (Laurence Olivier)

King Henry V's First Rousing Battle Speech

St. Crispin's Day Speech

Battle of Agincourt

King Henry's Courting of Princess Katherine (Renee Asherson)


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