Of all of shakespeare’splays, my favorite is MacBeth, which almost certainly means that Kumonosu Jo is my favorite film adaptation of a Shakespeare play. When it comes to the histories, nothing beats Henry V. For my money, the Kenneth Branagh version from 1989 is the best of these going. It’s got everything that I want in this story start to finish, and even pays a slight homage to the Olivier version at the start. It’s got the great speeches, great performances, badassery, and some great battle sequences. This is Shakespeare as it’s meant to be done.
In a nutshell, we have English King Henry V (Kenneth Branagh, who also directed) who is deciding to press his claim as the King of France. It’s only hinted at here, but before he was King Henry, he was Prince Hal, and he had as misspent a youth as possible. He hung around with thieves and gamblers and drunkards, making his eventual ascension to the throne a huge worry for the people under his rule. However, once king, Henry becomes a man of both action and decision, the sort of king that both the common folk and the nobles are willing to follow.