shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
[personal profile] shadowfireflame
Just watched the long BBC Shakespearian series "The Hollow Crown," which covers the buildup to the War of the Roses period in British history:

--the weak-willed King Richard II (played by Ben Whishaw)
--the military usurper King Henry IV (played by Rory Kinnear, then Jeremy Irons)
--his playboy son, King Henry V (played by Tom Hiddleston)
--his morally righteous son, King Henry VI, who married Queen Margaret (brilliantly played by Sophie Okonedo) who became a crazy military powerhouse
--the person who took the crown back from him, King Edward IV
--and his brother King Richard III (wonderfully played by Benedict Cumberbatch), who had a hunchback and killed lots of people to become king, including his two young nephews in the Tower of London
--ending with the rising of King Henry VII (who is the father of the famous Henry VIII)

Those who supported the original line of Richard II were the house of York (white rose), and those who supported the usurper line were the house of Lancaster (red rose).

The whole series was excellent, each one building on the last. The last two were particularly great episodes, and Benedict of course stole the show with his evil campaign to become king. The Richard III episode was tonally different from the rest and much more exciting. In the Shakespearian play, Richard III is so evil, and here he's played so well with lots of winks and soliloquies directed to the camera that you start actually rooting for him and wanting to see what horrible thing he will do next. It's brilliant and highly recommended!

P.S. Andrew Scott is also (briefly) in the series!

Date: 2016-05-29 01:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've been wanting to see the whole thing, too! Did you buy the DVDs or were you able to rent them? It really sounds terrific. I heard Ben Whishaw was just remarkable, but the whole cast looks amazing. Thank you for spurring me on!

Date: 2016-05-29 02:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, they really build on each other, so when you see the last one you know how it all started and how history sometimes get re-written as well. So to have a full appreciation of Richard III, you really have to see the whole thing, I think.

I was lucky that my local library had the first three on DVD and the last three are on iPlayer!

Ben Whishaw was very good! He was perfectly cast in my opinion. But yes, the whole cast gives it their all. I'm glad you've been wanting to see them and hope you will enjoy!

Date: 2016-05-29 06:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow, that's a LOT of Shakespeare. I've been meaning to watch Richard II, because Ben Whishaw, but seeing the line-up it looks like I might as well go the whole hog *g*

Date: 2016-05-29 01:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, Ben Whishaw is yummy and gets whumped pretty badly here. The actor who plays King Henry VI, Tom Sturridge, is also very pretty indeed.

I have to say that my least favorite episodes were actually Tom Hiddleston's (the second and third). There wasn't as much going on in them, I guess. I'd be curious to know what you think. But they are very long, like 2+ hours each!

Date: 2016-05-29 09:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have to say that my least favorite episodes were actually Tom Hiddleston's (the second and third).

I was almost going to say earlier that I was worried most about Henry V because a) I am totally in love with the Branagh version which I saw twice in the cinema, and also because b) I love Hiddles but I don't think he does Shakespeare very well. So, um. But I'd still watch it, I guess *g*
Edited Date: 2016-05-29 09:50 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-05-29 10:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ooh, interesting, I didn't know Kenneth Branagh did that play. I'll have to check it out!

Date: 2016-05-29 11:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Would love to hear what you think if you do! Like Hamlet, he also directed it, so it's allll him *g*

Date: 2016-06-01 06:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey, you know I'd been looking forward to this like mad and whatever else you do the rest or the year, please, please, please watch this. It's a masterclass in acting and thoroughly brilliant and oh...

Date: 2016-06-02 07:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*waves* I'd wondered where you'd got to :)

I did watch Henry IV part II and RIII of course, as I wrote in my journal, but have not yet seen the rest of the series. I want to watch both again before trying to formulate a better-articulated opinion, but it was a great role for BC, and I enjoyed it a lot better than his Hamlet. But it was a great cast - Sophie Okenedo, Judi Dench, and whoever played Buckingham were amazing, and not being familiar with RIII some of the dialogue had me positively squeeing with glee. I can see why the play is popular *g*

I did think some of the direction and perhaps consequently some of BC's acting was a trifle overblown (I'm aware of the irony of this since I adore Branagh), but once I settled into it, it seemed to work well enough. It was incredibly distracting to me how young and pretty he looked, though. I understand RIII was in his 20s, but he seemed younger than he was "10 years ago", lol. But it was a pleasant distraction to have...

(Apologies to sff for basically taking over your post for a chat *g*)
Edited Date: 2016-06-02 07:36 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-06-04 10:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Haha, I hope you continue--it's wonderful!

...some of the dialogue had me positively squeeing with glee

Me too!!! I was just waiting for the next awful/hilarious thing he would say. :)

Date: 2016-06-01 06:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for the appreciation post. I prepared for round two this spring by watching the first series. Richard II definitely stood out for me, even though Henry IV featured Jeremy Irons whom I've been admiring and adoring ever since Brideshead Revisited. And Christ, that voice! Until BC started storming the heavens I'd never heard such a decidedly sexy, thoroughly beautiful voice.

I loved, loved, loved the snatches of Handel's coronation anthem as Henry V strode through the cathedral, very cleverly done.

Henry V, however, especially after having seen both the Laurence Olivier and the Kenneth Branagh films, left me relatively cold.

Not so the second series which thrilled me from first to last, yes also the first part. Much has been said about the abridging but I think it worked and Dominic Cooke really did a tremendously wonderful job. I've been looking forward to the series since the first photograph of BC looking all brooding and sexy as hell was published in 2014 and I haven't been disappointed for one teeny weeny second. If this doesn't bet BC a BAFTA I don't know what will. Sophie Okenodo deserves one as well.

I can't remember ever having seen such a delightfully evil Richard III wallowing in his own depravity. After that first introduction of the still innocent teenager at the beginning of the second ep his descent into outright psychopathy was chilling to witness.

Particularly loved the cliffhangers at the end of ep 1 and ep 2 and his evil smirk when telling Buckingham, I'm not in the giving vein today.

Edited Date: 2016-06-01 06:39 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-06-04 11:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yesss, the whole scene where he was beating his ring on the chessboard/table was fantastic and my favorite; his murderous anxiety and paranoia actually made up the soundtrack to more evil acts. I was so invested that by the end I felt sorry for him with his iconic "My kingdom for a horse" line, but I wasn't sure if it was BC's wonderful performance or just the Shakespearean script that was making me cheer for the murderous antihero.

And oh my goodness, that broody photograph in the mud was the best. It set a great tone for the whole series, as did the last scene with Sophie standing amongst the bodies: this crown has caused so much death and suffering.

Date: 2016-06-13 01:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It sounds great - wish I could figure out a way to access it in America. Benedict is just icing on a really very interesting cast.

Date: 2016-06-14 12:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I hope that it will come out on DVD soon! And the cast is truly excellent! :)

Date: 2016-08-19 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A belated thank-you for recommending this series! We finally checked out the first season DVD from the library. Wow. The Tudors and The Borgias were both good, but this was by Willie Himselvis.

I have to say I liked Tom H. better as Prince Hal than as Henry V.

We are on the waiting list for the second series!

Date: 2016-08-20 05:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yay, I'm glad you liked it. I'd love to hear what you think once you see the second series! In my opinion, it's much better than the first, but they are best when all viewed together. :)

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