This may be the best Shakespeare film ever made. In 1942, Laurence Olivier delivered a jingoistic, stylized wartime production of "Henry V" that nonetheless stood as the standard interpretation. Nearly fifty years later, Kenneth Branagh's film appeared not only as a powerful and amazingly accessible recasting of the text, but a serious examination of the nature and the costs of the war that was Henry the Fifth's only real achievement.
I couldn't agree more with a reviewer below who suggested that high school English teachers would do well to put away the Shakespeare books and get their students to watch films like this. How can ninth graders possibly appreciate The Bard by poring over blocks of flowery text? Shakespeare needs to be seen, performed by actors who understand the cadence and meaning of the language, in order to be appreciated. Like most other people, I was forced to read plays like "Julius Caesar" and "A Midsummer Night..
This is a sweeping statement, but true nonetheless: I believe that Kenneth Branagh's HENRY V is the greatest screen adaption ever done of Shakespeare. Period. Better than Olivier (although he was great in a very diferent way). Better than any version of Hamlet (even Branagh's, which is the best of the Hamlets). Better than anything else.