The King (2019 film)

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The King
Official release poster
Directed byDavid Michôd
Written by
Based onHenry IV, Part 1,
Henry IV, Part 2
and Henry V
by William Shakespeare
Produced by
CinematographyAdam Arkapaw
Edited byPeter Sciberras
Music byNicholas Britell[1]
Distributed byNetflix
Release dates
  • 2 September 2019 (2019-09-02) (Venice)
  • 11 October 2019 (2019-10-11) (United States)
Running time
140 minutes[2]
  • Australia
  • United States
Box office$126,931

The King is a 2019 epic historical drama film directed by David Michôd, based on several plays from William Shakespeare's Henriad.[3][4][5] The screenplay was written by Michôd and Joel Edgerton, who both produced the film with Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, and Liz Watts. The King includes an ensemble cast led by Timothée Chalamet as the Prince of Wales and later King Henry V of England, alongside Edgerton, Sean Harris, Lily-Rose Depp, Robert Pattinson, and Ben Mendelsohn.

The film focuses on the rise of Henry V as king after his father dies as he also must navigate palace politics, the war his father left behind, and the emotional strings of his past life. The King premiered at the 76th Venice International Film Festival on 2 September 2019, and was released digitally via Netflix on 11 October 2019. The film received generally favorable reviews from film critics but was criticized by historians for its inaccuracy to both the original plays and historical reality.


Henry, Prince of Wales, "Hal", is the emotionally distant eldest son of King Henry IV of England. Hal is uninterested in succeeding his father and spends his days drinking, whoring, and jesting with his companion Falstaff in Eastcheap. Henry IV tires of Hal's debauchery and announces that his younger brother, Thomas, will inherit the throne. Thomas is sent to subdue Hotspur's rebellion but is upstaged by the arrival of Hal, who challenges Hotspur to single combat. Although Hal kills Hotspur, ending the battle without further conflict, Thomas is bitter and complains to their father that he was cheated of his glory. Shortly thereafter, Thomas dies while campaigning against the rebels in Wales.

Henry IV dies in his bed with Hal present, and the untested prince is anointed as King Henry V. Hal opts for peace and conciliation with his father's many adversaries, despite his actions being seen as weakness. At his coronation feast, envoys from the Dauphin of France present Hal with a tennis ball as an insulting coronation gift. However, Hal chooses to frame this as a positive reflection of his boyhood. His sister Philippa, now the Queen of Denmark, cautions her brother that nobles in any royal court have their own interests in mind and will never fully reveal their true intentions.

Hal interrogates a captured assassin who claims to have been sent by King Charles VI of France to assassinate Hal. The English nobles Cambridge and Grey are approached by French agents. The traitors plot against Hal and unsuccessfully attempt to win over the Chief Justice, Gascoigne. Gascoigne advises Hal that a show of strength is necessary to unite England, so Hal declares war on France and has Cambridge and Grey beheaded. He approaches Falstaff and appoints him as his chief military strategist, saying that Falstaff is the only man he truly trusts.

The English army sets sail for France. After completing the Siege of Harfleur, they receive taunting messages from the Dauphin. The English advance parties stumble upon a vast French army gathering to face them. Dorset advises Hal to retreat, but Falstaff proposes a false advance to induce the French into rushing forward into the muddy battlefield, where they will be weighed down by their heavy armour and horses. They will then be attacked by the English longbowmen and surrounded by a large, lightly armoured flanking force hidden in the nearby woods.

Unable to dissuade Falstaff from leading the advance personally, Hal proposes to the Dauphin that they meet in single combat to decide the battle and minimize bloodshed; however, the Dauphin sees this as weakness and refuses. The Battle of Agincourt commences. Falstaff's plan works – the bulk of the French army charges to engage Falstaff's force and is soon mired in the mud. Hal leads the flanking attack, and the outnumbered but far more mobile English army overpowers the immobilized French, though Falstaff is killed. The Dauphin, seeing his men being driven back, reinvokes Hal's challenge but repeatedly slips and falls in the mud until Hal permits his soldiers to kill him. Hal orders all French prisoners executed for fear that they might regroup, despite Falstaff having previously warned him that such an action would be unchivalrous and unworthy of a king.

Hal reaches King Charles VI, who agrees to adopt him as his heir and offers him the hand of his daughter Catherine of Valois. Hal returns to England with his new wife for a celebratory triumph. In private, she challenges his reasons for invading France and denies the supposed French actions against Hal, suggesting the assassin was a plot from within his own court. Suspicious, Hal confronts Gascoigne, who confesses that he had staged the insult and acts of aggression, believing that his sole duty is to protect the king even if it means deceiving him. In a cold fury, Hal stabs the Chief Justice to death, and returns to Catherine, asking that she promise to always speak the truth to him, as clearly as possible.


Cast and order are per closing tombstone stand-alone credits. The roles are per closing credits scroll.

In addition, Thibault de Montalembert has a cameo as France's King Charles VI.


Filming on location at Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire, UK.


In 2013, it was revealed that Joel Edgerton and David Michôd had collaborated on writing an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Henriad" plays, Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2 and Henry V, for Warner Bros. Pictures.[6][7][8] In September 2015, it was announced that Michôd would direct the project, with Warner Bros. producing and distributing the film, and Lava Bear producing.[9]


In February 2018, Timothée Chalamet joined the cast, with Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner producing, alongside Liz Watts, under their Plan B Entertainment banner. Ultimately, Netflix distributed the film instead of Warner Bros.[10] In March 2018, Edgerton joined the cast of the film.[11] In May 2018, Robert Pattinson, Ben Mendelsohn, Sean Harris, Lily-Rose Depp, Tom Glynn-Carney, and Thomasin McKenzie joined the cast; Dean-Charles Chapman joined in June.[12][13]


Principal photography began on 1 June 2018 and wrapped on 24 August.[12][14] Filming took place throughout England and at Szilvásvárad, Hungary.[15][16] Many scenes were filmed on location at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, England.[17] Lincoln Cathedral was used in place of Westminster Abbey for the coronation scenes.[18]


The film's original score was composed by Nicholas Britell, who thought of approaching the film's music from the 21st century, instead of the medieval 15th century approach, saying "because of the timelessness of these issues, if felt like something that we could explore with the sound of different time periods, just to make you look at the early 1400's in a way that it felt like you hadn't seen it before". He felt that the "1400s looks like it was a foreign planet".[19][20] He experimented the film's music using bass clarinets run with tape filters, and sounds of metal while composing.[21] It was Britell's most "dark and sombre" music reflecting the zone of the film.[22] Lakeshore Records released the album consisting of 15 tracks from Britell's score, on 1 November 2019 in digital and CD formats, while the vinyl edition was released three years later on 8 July 2022.[21]


The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on 2 September 2019.[23] It screened at the BFI London Film Festival on 3 October 2019,[24][25] and received a limited release on 11 October 2019 before being released on Netflix, for digital streaming, on 1 November 2019.[26]


Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 71% of 147 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.6/10. The website's consensus reads: "While The King is sometimes less than the sum of its impressive parts, strong source material and gripping performances make this a period drama worth hailing. "[27] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 62 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[28]

Box office[edit]

While released on Netflix, The King did receive a limited theatrical release (43 screens total, for three weeks) in South Korea and New Zealand, grossing $126,931 at the box office.[29]


Award Date of ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
AACTA Awards 4 December 2019 Best Film Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Liz Watts, David Michôd, Joel Edgerton Nominated [30]
Best Direction David Michôd Nominated
Best Actor in a Leading Role Timothée Chalamet Nominated
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Joel Edgerton Won
Ben Mendelsohn Nominated
Best Cinematography Adam Arkapaw Won
Best Editing Peter Sciberras Nominated
Best Sound Robert Mackenzie, Sam Petty, Gareth John, Leah Katz, Mario Vacarro, Tara Webb Nominated
Best Production Design Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton [de] Won
Best Costume Design Jane Petrie Won
Best Screenplay David Michôd, Joel Edgerton Nominated
Best Hair and Makeup Alessandro Bertolazzi Nominated
Best Casting Des Hamilton, Francine Maisler Nominated
4 January 2020 Best International Film Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Liz Watts, David Michôd, Joel Edgerton Nominated [31]
Hollywood Music in Media Awards 20 November 2019 Best Original Score in a Feature Film Nicholas Britell Nominated [32]
London Film Critics' Circle 30 January 2020 British / Irish Actor of the Year Robert Pattinson Won [33]

Historical accuracy[edit]

After its release, The King became the subject of widespread commentary over its historical accuracy; as The Independent opined, "as an adaptation of an adaptation, a few things are bound to have been lost in translation".[34] The film, based on the Henriad, a collection of Shakespearean history plays about the monarchs of England, includes several fictional characters (such as John Falstaff) and contains several historical dramatizations of the real events the movie was based on.[35] In France, the movie was criticized for its perceived anti-French sentiment, with French historian Christophe Gilliot stating that "I'm outraged. The image of the French is really sullied. The film has Francophobe tendencies." Gilliot also claimed that "The British far-Right are going to lap [the film] up, it will flatter nationalist egos over there."[36]

Numerous articles were published on the historicity of The King, analysing the historical accuracy of various elements of the movie. The following historical inaccuracies were mentioned:

  • The film depicts Henry V as being reluctant to go to war with France, but being eventually persuaded by the Archbishop of Canterbury. In reality, Henry V was keen to go to war with the French, with his primary motivation being expansionist territorial claims in France.[37]
  • The character of John Falstaff, as depicted in the film, is a fictional character created by Shakespeare. Many historians have suggested that the English knight Sir John Fastolf served as a real-life inspiration for the character of Falstaff.[37]
  • The film depicts a rivalry between Henry V and his brother, Prince Thomas, who is depicted as dying in Wales prior to Henry's coronation, an event which pushes Henry to ascend to the throne. In reality, Thomas was killed in action at Battle of Baugé in the Duchy of Anjou eight years after Henry V's coronation.[38]
  • The King depicts the Battle of Agincourt as taking place on green and hilly terrain, when in reality it occurred on fallow fields on the French plains. The film also depicts the French as holding the heights during the battle when in reality it was the English who did so.[39]
  • The film implies that Henry V and Catherine of Valois married almost immediately after the Battle of Agincourt, when in reality their marriage occurred five years later on 2 June 1420.
  • The film depicts the Dauphin of France, Louis de Guyenne, as being present at the Siege of Harfleur and the Battle of Agincourt (dying in the latter battle) when in reality, he was present at neither battle and died of dysentery in 1415.[40]
  • A crucial part of the English defence, the sharpened stakes, or palings, which were set at an angle towards the French cavalry to protect the archers, was almost entirely ignored in the film although there was a brief shot of a small pile of palings awaiting deployment.[41]
  • The film's costume design consists of numerous anachronisms and inaccuracies, consisting of armor and clothing from the entirety of the fifteenth century not present during the film's period, alongside entirely ahistorical designs.[42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nicholas Britell Scoring David Michod's 'The King'". FilmMusicReporter. 22 July 2019. Archived from the original on 22 July 2019. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  2. ^ "The King". Venice Film Festival. 23 July 2019. Archived from the original on 25 July 2019. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  3. ^ Crabtree, Isabel (9 November 2019). "The King Might Not Be Totally Historically Accurate, But Timotheé Chalamet's Bowl Cut Sure As Hell Is". Esquire. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  4. ^ Bunyan, Michael (25 October 2019). "The True Story Behind the Netflix Movie The King". Time. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  5. ^ Nelson, Alex (11 November 2019). "Is The King a true story? How accurately Henry V and Agincourt are portrayed in the Netflix drama and Shakespeare plays". inews. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  6. ^ Davies, Luke (June 2013). "Joel Edgerton after Gatsby". The Monthly. Archived from the original on 18 May 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2018. With David Michôd he has written King, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Parts I & II, and Henry V, for Warner Bros.
  7. ^ Wood, Stephanie (26 July 2014). "Australian actor Joel Edgerton hits the Hollywood big time". Archived from the original on 23 June 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  8. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (3 September 2016). "Joel Edgerton Talks 'Game Of Thrones' Meets Shakespeare Project With David Michôd, 'Jane Got A Gun,' And More". Archived from the original on 26 May 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  9. ^ McClintock, Pamela (3 September 2015). "Former Universal Chairman David Linde on TIFF Bet, What He Misses About Running a Big Studio". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 18 May 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  10. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (8 February 2018). "Timothee Chalamet To Play King Henry V In David Michôd Netflix Film 'The King". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  11. ^ Vlessing, Etan (22 March 2018). "Joel Edgerton Joins Timothee Chalamet in Netflix Drama 'The King'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 21 June 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  12. ^ a b Wiseman, Andreas (31 May 2018). "Robert Pattinson, Lily-Rose Depp, Among Cast Joining Timothée Chalamet In Netflix Pic 'The King', Cameras Roll This Week". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 1 June 2018. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  13. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (1 June 2018). "'Game Of Thrones' Star Dean-Charles Chapman Joins Netflix Pic 'The King'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 21 June 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  14. ^ "Day 58, #thatsawrap !". 24 August 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  15. ^ Vierney, Joseph (15 May 2018). "Lincoln casting call for period film". The Lincolnite. Archived from the original on 8 June 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  16. ^ Goundry, Nick (3 May 2018). "Timothée Chalamet to film Henry V movie in Hungary". KFTV. Archived from the original on 8 June 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  17. ^ Horton, Kim (8 June 2018). "Netflix movie produced by Brad Pitt filming in Gloucestershire". gloucestershirelive. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  18. ^ Verney, Joseph (1 November 2019). "The King released on Netflix featuring Lincoln's historic sights". thelincolnite. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  19. ^ Beachum, Chris; Laws, Zach (25 October 2019). "Nicholas Britell ('The King' composer) on 'looking at the 1400's like it was a foreign planet' through music [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]". GoldDerby. Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  20. ^ "Nicholas Britell's Latest Score Is Fit for a King". American Society of Composers and Lyricists. 14 November 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  21. ^ a b Tangcay, Jazz (5 November 2019). "Nicholas Britell Gets to the Emotional Core of Composing for 'The King'". Variety. Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  22. ^ Grobar, Matt (4 November 2019). "'The King' Composer Nicholas Britell Crafts "Most Somber" Score Of His Career In First Collaboration With David Michôd". Deadline. Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  23. ^ Anderson, Ariston (25 July 2019). "Venice Film Festival Unveils Lineup (Updating Live)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 25 July 2019. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  24. ^ Mitchell, Robert (29 August 2019). "'Jojo Rabbit,' 'The Aeronauts,' Netflix Titles Feature in London Film Festival Lineup". Variety. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  25. ^ "The King". BFI London Film Festival. Archived from the original on 8 January 2020. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  26. ^ McClintock, Pamela (27 August 2019). "Netflix Dates 'Marriage Story,' 'Laundromat' and Other Fall Award Films". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  27. ^ "The King". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 13 April 2024. Edit this at Wikidata
  28. ^ "The King". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved 21 September 2023.
  29. ^ "The King". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 21 September 2023.Edit this at Wikidata
  30. ^ "Winners & Nominees".
  31. ^ Vlessing, Etan (3 January 2020). "'Parasite' Named Best Picture by Australia's AACTA Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  32. ^ Harris, LaTesha (5 November 2019). "'Joker,' 'Lion King,' 'Us' Lead 2019 Hollywood Music in Media Awards Nominees". Variety. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  33. ^ "'Parasite' Tops London Film Critics' Circle Awards". 30 January 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  34. ^ Nelson, Alex (11 November 2019). "Is The King a true story?".
  35. ^ Bunyan, Rachael (25 October 2019). "The True Story Behind Netflix's The King". TIME.
  36. ^ Samuel, Henry (4 November 2019). "Netflix's 'The King' is anti-French nonsense that flatters a war criminal, says director of Agincourt museum". The Daily Telegraph.
  37. ^ a b "'The King' Might Not Be Totally Historically Accurate, But Timotheé Chalamet's Bowl Cut Sure As Hell Is". Esquire. 9 November 2019.
  38. ^ "Top 10 Things The King Got Factually Right and Wrong". WatchMojo.
  39. ^ "Azincourt: comment le film "Le Roi" (Netflix) piétine allègrement la réalité historique". franceinfo (in French). 4 November 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  40. ^
  41. ^ "Azincourt: comment le film "Le Roi" (Netflix) piétine allègrement la réalité historique". franceinfo (in French). 4 November 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  42. ^ "Azincourt: comment le film "Le Roi" (Netflix) piétine allègrement la réalité historique". franceinfo (in French). 4 November 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2020.

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