Branagh adapted and directed this opus as well as starring, and he's found jobs for all his pals. Look, there's John Sessions mugging frantically at the back! Scurvy knave Bardolph is a be-latexed Briers; Mistress Quickly is a dusty Judi Dench; plus there's the grim spectacle of Emma Thompson bounding around in a red wig, gabbling Franglais. Coltrane is Falstaff: great idea, but as the fat man doesn't appear in the play, he's wedged in by way of fumbling flashbacks. Most of the scenes, including exteriors, could have been filmed on the stage of the National, and devices like Jacobi's Chorus, in anachronistic black greatcoat and woolly scarf, serve to accentuate the theatricality of the enterprise, as does the fact that Hal appears to be attacking France with 25 men. The fog of war is convincingly portrayed, though other scenes have an unmistakable whiff of the BBC production: the clip-clop-whinny sound effects, the sudden downpours, the swirling dry ice. Quibbles apart, Branagh succeeds in his blunt, robust portrayl of the Soldier-King, hauling the film along in the wake of his own gung-ho performance.
Cast and crew