Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Hollow Crown- Richard II and Henry IV part 1

Two weeks ago PBS started airing 'The Hollow Crown' on Friday nights as part of their 'Great Performances'. 'The Hollow Crown' is composed of four parts of Shakespearean plays and when I first heard about it I was dying to see it. Not only does it have amazing costumes and an outstanding cast, but it really shows Shakespeare at his cinematic best.

The first of the four is 'Richard II' and the king of this name is played by Ben Whishaw. Oh. My. Word. His performance will leave you speechless and in awe and make you believe that there can be no other Richard II that will match his acting prowess in this part. I really do not have words to describe just how mesmerizing and perfect his performance was. I had briefly heard of him before but there were many others in the cast such as Sir Patrick Stewart and David Morrissey that I am very familiar with and even some of the cast from later parts I knew as well, so I had no frame of mind what to expect from Whishaw and now all I expect is the very best.

The costumes as well were spectacular too. They weren't as nearly as detailed at those in say 'Game of Thrones' but they had a flow about them. One might look at them and see just a bit of fabric draped over this person and wrapped around another, but I didn't see them as such. Each draped and fold was there for a reason and while there might have appeared to be a lack of form, there really was an underlying structure that made it a piece of clothing and not just a sheet. One of my favourite costumes from it was what looked like a delicate sheet just barely clinging to the form of Richard II:

It might appear very basic but as you look at the detailing you can see just how amazing and purposeful the final construction is.

Additionally I would like to point out the cinematography. They are taking something that was meant to be performed on a stage and adapting it to screen to make the story even more epic than originally believed. The camera work and different shots are pieces of art in and of themselves without the words being spoken. Just look at some of these angles:

 And these aren't even any of my favourite frames, either.

Then there is the second of the four 'Henry IV part one'. I must admit that it took me longer to watch this one but not for lack of trying, my internet connection simply did not want me to watch it. But alas I finished it just this afternoon and I cannot wait to finish with Part Two this Friday. I shall be at my parents where I can record it and watch it all in one sitting should no other distractions befall me.

For this part I felt the cinematography wasn't as great as 'Richard II' was, but there wasn't as many chances for it to be considering the settings in which the various scenes took place. But such instances as when in the woods and on the battlefield, even in the throne room of King Henry IV, they had the opportunity for a great shot and a great angle and they took it.

 And for the longest time I could not figure out what I had seen Jeremy Irons in. I knew of his name and of his voice, one cannot forget a voice like his, and I kept thinking Disney movie and I thought it was Frollo from 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' because I kept seeing someone dressed like that with his voice. Finally it bothered me long enough to go and look it up and my assumption wasn't too far off. He was a voice in a Disney movie, only he was the voice of Scar in 'The Lion King' but he too played a character who wore clothing similar to Frollo in 'Casanova' so my mind wasn't completely crazy.

His performance as King Henry IV was stunning as well, but his might just be his voice that holds such power while he displays such weakness as an elderly king with a disobedient child. His voice spoke strong and true while his body motion was that of someone tired and just wanting to leave things in good hands. It was the embodiment of what King Henry IV was going through and he brought exactly what the performance needed from him. I daresay, though, that I felt there wasn't enough of him present in a play with him as the title character, most of the longer scenes were either with Percy or Prince Hal.

And while I might not understand what she is saying some of the time, I still love Julie Walters' performance and really wish her character would pop up more often because she is a cheeky old woman, both the character and the actress.

And last but not least, is Prince Hal, played by Tom Hiddleston so of course you know the performance is going to be excellence. I have seen many of his films from 'The Avengers' to 'Midnight in Paris' and each character is different from the rest and he truly has a grasp on what he needs to bring to each performance to get it just right. He is one of those actors where instead of thinking 'oh there is Hiddleston again doing a great performance' you think 'wow, Prince Hal really needs to get his life in order'. You forget about the actor and focus on the character and since this character is going to be a crucial part of three of the plays that make up 'The Hollow Crown', that is a good thing.


Prince Hal is a young prince who would rather enjoy life than take it seriously as his father would like. But soon her gets the slap in the face of reality and comes to terms with his future and current events, and you see that immediate switch. His face expresses it all and the range of emotions the come out is perfectly capturing what we could imagine what Prince Hal is feeling.

And the costumes are just as amazing here as in the first part but I do have to say I love Prince Hal's jacket. That jacket in and of itself is a work of art and something I would want to stare at for a long time. The detailing and cut on it sets it apart from all the other costume pieces, and it looks great, even when being worn by a big, fat man.

This picture was the best I could find of the jacket, but if you go and watch it you can see what an amazing cut it has and the small little detailing on the back of the shoulders, which falls under the cut, is eye candy. The actor isn't too bad to look at either.

This series has taken my breath away from the very first part and I cannot wait for Friday to see more and I can only hope that the last part will be just as, if not more, beautiful and glorious to watch than all the previous parts.


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