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134 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb historical drama
The Hollow Crown is the best drama shown on the BBC for many years. Every aspect of the production was first rate, particularly the top notch cast and wonderful cinematography with beautiful landscapes. In Richard II Ben Whishaw gave a fine performance as a king tormented by his own insecurities and finally deposed. Each subsequent drama seemed to reach a higher plane...
Published 24 months ago by Sarah

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77 of 91 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great series, but Henry V adaptation a let down
Ever since I found out about this series I had been looking forward to it with great anticipation, not least because these are some of my favourite Shakespeare plays but also because as a student of medieval history I have a particular interest in the period then the plays are set.

I admit I rather doubted the BBCs capacity to be faithful to the setting without...
Published on 23 July 2012 by Medieval Lady


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134 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb historical drama, 26 July 2012
This review is from: The Hollow Crown - TV Mini Series [DVD] (DVD)
The Hollow Crown is the best drama shown on the BBC for many years. Every aspect of the production was first rate, particularly the top notch cast and wonderful cinematography with beautiful landscapes. In Richard II Ben Whishaw gave a fine performance as a king tormented by his own insecurities and finally deposed. Each subsequent drama seemed to reach a higher plane than the last, culminating in a superb final rendition of Henry V. I agree that cutting the conspiracy scene (crucial) and enlarging the role of the Duke of York in Henry V were mistakes. However, Simon Russell Beale and Jeremy Irons were both excellent as Falstaff - showing the character's more reflective side as well as his roistering - and the ageing King whose dreams of the crown turn to bitter reality. But I have to single out Tom Hiddleston's performance as Henry V as quite exceptional, I totally disagree with those reviewers who disliked it. Some of the speeches such as the Crispian's day one were low key and pensive, but all the more moving for that I would argue, and his courtship of the Princess showed a wonderful light touch. This Henry V starts off as a dissolute young man who matures into a courageous leader of men but also a profound thinker who is fully aware of the horrors of the war that he unleashes. If Hiddleston does not win many awards, I will be surprised - he is one to watch. I can't wait to get the DVD now.
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152 of 163 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime Shakespeare, 11 July 2012
This review is from: The Hollow Crown - TV Mini Series [DVD] (DVD)
If you buy any DVD of a TV production this year, it has to be 'The Hollow Crown'. I have watched countless film and television versions of Shakespeare's plays in the past and I can honestly say there have been none like these versions. Forget David Tennant's edgy, modern-day 'Hamlet' (hard, I know, as it was pretty unforgettable): these new history plays are simply stunning.

I think what is rarely touched upon in reviews is how accessible these new films make Shakespeare. I watched 'Richard II' with my mum hoping she would not get bored by the long, philosophical speeches, but she thoroughly enjoyed it. Even for a literature student Shakespeare isn't exactly a walk in the park and having not approached 'Richard II' before, I was thinking, as I sat down to watch it, that I should have made an effort to skim-read the play in my Collected Works, just to get a gist of the plot. I'm glad I didn't. Watching the film was like looking into Shakespeare's world through a new pair of Specsaver glasses: everything came startlingly into focus. I promise you, if you are attentive and ready to engage, 'Richard II' is as accessible, exciting and fun to watch as any other epic action film you are likely to see.

I can't praise the settings, cinematography and costume of the first instalment enough. And I would certainly run the risk of sounding gushy ('you already are, dear') if I started on Ben Whishaw's performance as Richard. But this guy is incredibly good. This film is incredibly good. The handing over of the crown scene literally took my breath away. Whishaw excels so much here that it is by far the most sublime part of the film. And Rory Kinnear makes the scene happen too: his Bolingbroke may have nothing much to say, but is appropriately humiliated and wary, setting off Richard's clever and beautiful kaleidoscope of emotions.

With 'Henry IV, part 1', the scale is mostly a lot smaller as Shakespeare deals with the domestics of father and son relationships and the carnal realms of the Boars Head tavern. Inevitably, we are not treated to the gorgeous settings of 'Richard II' and spend much of the time in the confines of the tavern set, which (though necessary) feels like a step down after such a treat. But the production is still impressive, imaginative (the initial interchanges between the court and the Boars Head are bold and new, if a little clunky) and very well cast.

Falstaff is brilliant - every inch the show-stealer the play-write purposed him to be - and Simon Russell Beale puts on the most hilarious performance in the prince/king role-play scene. Tom Hiddleston - who I'm sure will soon be a household name, if not already - has bravely made his Hal a less likeable prince than those of other productions. He is less vivacious, more cruel. As a result, Hiddleston has the tricky task of making us warm to his character; but he succeeds, and in 'Henry IV part 2' he produces some touching scenes as he contemplates the crown.

I'm thrilled we have a version of the less popular 'Henry IV part 2' to enjoy, particularly because the king-Hal scene, when the prince is woefully misunderstood, has some of my favourite lines in the tetralogy. Some scenes with Falstaff's cronies inevitably may not translate well for modern audiences, but there are fun moments.

I have not yet seen the last production, but when I do I will hopefully update this review with the news that it was just as good as its precursors.

**UPDATE**: 'Henry V' was fantastic. There were some bold cuts from the text - notably the traitors scene early on - but they were totally the right cuts. The film should be admired for its very definite vision, its ability to move, and for the fine performance from Hiddleston - his Harry lets you into his insecurities and is perfectly pitched for today's audience.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SHAKESPEARE AND THE WAR OF THE ROSES REVISITED, 5 Aug 2013
By 
Deniza Futuro "Deniza" (RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hollow Crown - TV Mini Series [DVD] (DVD)
I am Brasilian so I grew up watching only the most popular Shakesperean plays. Only Henry V ( the movie with Kenneth Branagh) I knew a little. It was very good for me to watch these historical plays that comprises the group of Shakesperian plays that covers the history of the War of the Roses. I liked it very much and Jeremy Irons was superb as Henry IV. Tom Middleton as Henry V in the play of Henry IV was little more than a playboy and he played the part very well. As Henry the V his part grew and so his gravitas as a King. I loved his scene with Catherine of Valois, very playful and spoken in French (the original play asks it of the actors). RIchard II I did not knew at all but loved how the actor played the misguided King. The figurines were superb and the castles and rooms looked as I think they should have looked in the 15th century. And as a plus: Subtitles. For a non-english, subtitles for Shakespeare are a necessity. I think that even persons that are born in England these days do not understand the 16th century language of Shakespeare so subtitles are very good to study the language and to not lose itself in the melée of the dialogues. Very aptly titled: THE HOLLOW CROWN, after the monologue in the first play (Richard II), it describes the fight of men that are cousins and desire above anything to be king (to put the crown of England in his head). But this crown is HOLLOW, so I understand, the Power that it confers is transitory and very bitter. Very wise and very sad because as the war of roses continued, we see these powerful cousins destroying each other to end with a wasted land and many years of civil wars. Beautiful played Shakespeare. ( I ask forgiveness if I mispelled the name of some actor in this review, because my english is not very good, please check the review of Amazon for the names of the actors)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 8 April 2013
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This review is from: The Hollow Crown - TV Mini Series [DVD] (DVD)
How in the middle of a summer of tripe and Olympic brouhaha this series came to be shown is beyond my comprehension. That it was the televisual highlight of the summer of tripe and Olympic brouhaha is not just my opinion. The BBC was webstormed when one episode was delayed to show the conclusion of a Wimbledon tennis match between someone or other from somewhere or other and someone else equally memorable. Mrs.Me was away volunteering at the Olympics at the time (churlish of me not to acknowledge the gift of three weeks of peace Mr.Coe - Lord god almighty Coe). Five minutes of that opening pageant was quite enough. Mrs.Me agrees that she may have been at the wrong place at the wrong time since watching these . Great writing, acting, direction, costuming, cinematography which begs a question: why can't we have more of this quality please BBC ? We thought it just could not be done any more but now you have let the cat out of the bag could you do another three per year from now until I am too feeble to care - please - that would be a licence fee well spent
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What, no blu-ray release?, 23 July 2012
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This review is from: The Hollow Crown - TV Mini Series [DVD] (DVD)
Stunning production, well worth buying on DVD. I greatly enjoyed watching it over four consecutive Saturdays on BBC HD. Brilliant performances throughout, bringing the History Plays to life for a modern audience, particularly Tom Hiddleston, who I knew from his appearances as Loki in Thor and The Avengers. He really should be a household name by now (future big screen Doctor Who, anyone?). However, I am disappointed that there seems to be no blu-ray release. The whole production looks even more glorious in high definition. Worth the extra expense, I would say. Anyone bemoaning the lack of special features might be interested in ordering the Prefaces To Shakespeare DVD, a documentary which features tributes including Derek Jacobi on Richard II and Jeremy Irons on the Henrys and complements The Hollow Crown perfectly.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing series, 22 July 2012
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This review is from: The Hollow Crown - TV Mini Series [DVD] (DVD)
Just wished there was more to come. Best TV aired for years. You pick up the language after a while and we were completely absorbed by the serie. Never been a great Shakespeare fan...shock horror...but Im a convert after this.. What a man with such knowledge of people. All completely relavent to today.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly superb TV, 15 July 2012
This review is from: The Hollow Crown - TV Mini Series [DVD] (DVD)
A pleasure to see, a rare experience nowadays on the BBC. This is one of the finest production on the BBC for years and years. This is a definite must have DVD set - just a pity all the history plays are not part of the series (or will there be a season 2?)

Just about forgive the BBC for shifting the Henry IV Part 1 to 10.00 (to show the Women's Doubles - glad that was more important than one of the best shows in the last 10 years or so - certainly up there with the I, Claudius etc)

I've always found the history plays the least inspiring of Shakespeare's plays, but not now, I will now watch them (at the Globe etc) with more enthusiasm.

Now, I hope the BBC will put on some modern plays (as with Sky Arts - if only the BBC was as good as that channel) as well as some Jacobean / Restoration / World Drama / Chekov / Ibsen and others .. Hollow Crown deserves to be followed by some more great drama
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding productions of Shakespeare, 16 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Hollow Crown - TV Mini Series [DVD] (DVD)
These productions make Shakespeare accessible an engaging. Exemplary acting, and while you may not understand *every* word or reference, the overall sense of the language and the character's intentions. Great for everyone from aficionados of the Baird, to those who are encountering Shakespeare in production for the first time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Within the Hollow Crown, 31 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Hollow Crown - TV Mini Series [DVD] (DVD)
When I say "that's entertainment", I may sound trivial, but Within the Hollow Crown is absolutely superb. I couldn't fault it in any way. The actors did Shakespeare proud and even though the speeches are sometimes long, yet you feel as if you've heard Shakespeare's English all your life. The one that I find most touching is Henry IV's soliloquy about sleep. Of course, he had the murder of his cousin on his conscience.The plays are historical and deal with the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V. Perhaps, some characters never existed, but they are tragic and true and, if anything, make the plays more poignant. I loved the faithful adherence to costumes of the period and the wooing of Katherine by Henry V. Falstaff (Henry's boozing companion) is the most sad, I think and I am not sure about Henry's treatment of him when the young rake becomes king. Perhaps some may say there's the sign of a true leader and a great king, nothing stands in his way, on the other hand ..... all these questions play on your mind when you are watching the plays. Your emotions are in turmoil. Both my husband and myself loved the mini series - it's a feast for the senses. Thank you Shakespeare, thank you BBC and thank you all you talented actors for bringing history to life.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Stuff, 8 Mar 2013
By 
M. Gray (Galloway, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hollow Crown - TV Mini Series [DVD] (DVD)
Very impressive, esp the Richard II. And the Henry IV parts one and two are very well done. I was less convinced about the Henry V but one of the difficulties with this play is that anything these days has to match up in some way to the well known Olivier and Branagh films, which is a tough call. Simon Beale great as Falstaff deserves special attention. Mike Gray
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The Hollow Crown - TV Mini Series [DVD]
The Hollow Crown - TV Mini Series [DVD] by Thea Sharrock (DVD - 2012)
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