I have just finished watching the Hollow Crown. What a brilliant and masterful production it has been. Richard II did stand out for me, but all the casting and production has been great, and I can’t wait for round 2!
Henry V is obviously a play that gets done a lot – and like all true Englishmen, I’ve seen both the Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh versions. I said before that I thought it would be possible to find more in it than Olivier’s glorification and Branagh’s denial of war, and it seemed to me this was a more intimate portrayal, focussed on Henry rather than seeking to make a broader statement.
Tom Hiddleston, therefore, had a lot to do and he did it astonishingly well. Well, no, not astonishingly well – I should know by now that he is a very gifted actor. He portrayed a really majestic king, one who was considered, but decisive when he needed to be, not proud, but dignified. And an awesome speechmaker. It was really jolting, to see the brief flashbacks and remember what a wastrel he had been in Henry IV. Now Hal was Henry, a successful king, winner of wars – and ladies.
And what did they do with this? They bookended the film with his funeral. What could be, on the face of it, a rather triumphal (or at least happy) film, they made into a tragedy. What a waste of England, to have and lose such kings as we have seen! What a Hollow Crown it is…