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The Hollow Crown (2012 ... and 2016)

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(A&F links on The Best Shakespeare on Film, Chimes at Midnight (1965), Hamlet (1990), Othello (1995), Twelfth Night (1996), Titus (1999), The Merchant of Venice (2004), As You Like It (2006), The Tempest (2010), Coriolanus (2011), Much Ado About Nothing (2012), Cymbeline (2014), Macbeth (2014).)

Of course, one could also watch The Hollow Crown smile.png I put the smiley-face in because I have all 4 parts sitting on my DVR & have yet to actually watch them.


So I almost put this thread in the TV section, but really, these are four films.  I've just watched Richard II and Henry IV, Part 1 and I am very very impressed.  Not only are there Oscar-worthy performances in here, but both the two films I've seen so far rank, in my opinion, towards the very top of the best films of 2012.  It's an epic story and it's some of Shakespeare's best writing, much of which has rarely ever been seen on film before.


I cannot begin to describe how good Ben Whishaw is as Richard II.  You don't like him for about the first half of the film, but then he transforms himself into someone on whom you find yourself hanging on his every word.  And, do you want to see Tom Hiddleston given directors and a script that actually uses his acting ability to its full extent?  Then watch this.  Hiddleston is going to grow into a great actor if it can't quite be said that he is one just yet.  He needs to stop being wasted in Marvel comic book movies. 


The cast is so good that it will surprise you.  It includes Jeremy Irons, Patrick Stewart and John Hurt.  It also includes Rory Kinnear (Black Mirror, Skyfall), Clémence Poésy (In Bruges, Harry Potter), David Suchet (Poirot, The Bank Job), David Morrissey (Red Riding Trilogy, Sense & Sensibility), James Purefoy (Rome, A Knight’s Tale), Lindsay Duncan (Black Mirror, Rome), David Bradley (Game of Thrones, Harry Potter), Simon Russell Beale (The Deep Blue Sea, My Week with Marilyn), Julie Walters (Harry Potter, Becoming Jane), Alun Armstrong (New Tricks, Braveheart), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter), Mélanie Thierry (Babylon A.D., The Zero Theorem), Lambert Wilson (Of Gods and Men), David Bamber (Rome), Iain Glen (Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey) and others that you'll recognize.


I don't think I've seen Joe Armstrong before, but he makes a great Hotspur - a performance that should start his career.  I had forgotten what it was like for the villain of a story to not have to be evil.  When Harry and Hotspur meet at the end of the first part of Henry IV, the film makes you believe that both of them are good men and that it is only the circumstances (plus the treachery of someone else) that has led to them to fight each other.


Also, Beale is a delight as Falstaff.


Again, I've only seen the first two films, but I'm already suspecting that this is a masterpiece that I'm going to treasure for years to come.


Tom Sutcliffe on Richard II:

"... Wishaw was at the heart of it, naturally, bringing to Richard's slow realisation of his mere mortality a heartbreaking confusion. And here Goold's instincts seemed utterly sure-footed, quietly alerting us to the play's underlying themes (its recurring attention to the gulf that exists between being enthroned and being seated on the ground, for instance) while also bringing an absolutely gripping intimacy to the great set pieces in the play. Patrick Stewart was excellent as John of Gaunt, quivering with patriotic distress as he confronted the King in the "sceptred isle" speech. And Rory Kinnear beautifully captured the necessary double-think of the traitor, who must himself instantly become a scourge of traitors and indignantly defend a divinely appointed sovereignty that he has just exposed as man-made. When the crown passed between them, after Richard's brilliant moment of uncertainty ("Ay, no; no, ay"), there wasn't a shred of the cultural deference that can sometimes afflict Shakespeare on television. It was all hair-raising immediacy, a game of thrones with a script that has already lasted 400 years ..."


Ed Cumming on Henry IV, Part 1:

“... Though he’s becoming better known for megabudget Hollywood parts in Thor and Avengers Assemble, Hiddleston has Shakespearean credentials too. In Othello at the Donmar in 2007, he managed to make Cassio the most interesting part: which is no mean feat. Like Branagh, he has the gift of reserve, of holding back until it is absolutely impossible for him not to, at which point he floods out of himself. Ideal for Hal. The older actor has been something of a mentor to the younger: casting him in Thor, and acting with him in the Donmar’s Ivanov. And they first worked together on Wallander: Hiddleston appeared as detective Martinsson in the first two series. With Shakespeare on television there is really only one choice to make: either take a big risk and do something strange, or go straight at the material. Though the BBC will plead that it’s part of a season of helping us understand Shakespeare afresh, this was the latter variety; a traditional close representation of the text ...”

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I've been remiss in finishing the reviews I've started for The Hollow Crown films so far.  Personal life has been getting in the way.  However, I now I motivation to finish them this year as a promotional sort of thing - because next year The Hollow Crown: Wars of the Roses will come out.  And the grand scope of Shakespeare's next four plays is pretty epic actually in Henry VI Part 1, Henry VI Part 2, Henry VI Part 3 and Richard III.


Also it might give a certain actor some acting opportunities (greater than other actors have had, who get to star in only Richard III, which is only the culmination of his character development) starring as one of Shakespeare's most iconic villians.


The cast includes:


Tom Sturridge (Being Julia, Effie Gray) as Henry VI
Sophie Okonedo (After Earth, Hotel Rwanda) as Queen Margaret of Anjou
Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, The Monuments Men) as Gloucester
Philip Glenister (Life on Mars) as Talbot
Laura Frances-Morgan as Joan of Arc
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter, The Singing Detective) as Mortimer
Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard III
Keeley Hawes (Upstairs, Downstairs, Our Mutual Friend) as Queen Elizabeth
Dame Judi Dench as The Duchess of York

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