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Henry V (1944)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

The Globe Theatre, London, 1600. The Chorus requests that the audience use its collective imagination to summon up mental images of the various locations of Shakespeare's play Henry V.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely debate the current situation in the court of King Henry. Henry discusses French issues with his nobles. The French Dauphin sends a symbolic gift of tennis balls to his counterpart. Henry angrily dismisses the French ambassador, and announces that he will claim the French throne.

Nym, Bardolph and Pistol decide to join the English army, but before they do so they have to deal with the death of Falstaff, the King's former confidant.

At Southampton, the English fleet sets sail for France, beginning a campaign that leads to Harfleur, which Henry's forces lay siege to. A rousing speech from the King spurs the men on, and they successfully seize the town.

Agincourt is the next stage, but before meeting the French in battle, Henry surreptitiously steals around the camp, to eavesdrop on what his men really think of him. Before the battle, Henry commemorates the day of St Crispian. The Battle of Agincourt begins, with the English archers letting loose a volley of arrows. The French are trapped in the mud, weighed down by their armour, and the English take full advantage. While Henry's forces are otherwise distracted, the Dauphin has all the squires and boys in the English camp killed. Furious, Henry challenges the French Constable to a one-on-one duel, in which the King ultimately prevails.

Having won the Battle of Agincourt, Henry woos Katherine, the French princess. The French King, Charles VI, formally adopts Henry as his successor.

Back in the Globe Theatre, the actors take their leave of the audience and the performance comes to an end.