Okay, having been blown away last night, I am going to attempt to put my feelings about Part 1 of The Hollow Crown into words.
First of all, I thought the entire adaptation was brilliant. I have to admit, I did have some doubts and concerns about how the plays would be presented. In the past, I have sometimes been unimpressed with Shakespeare play to TV/film transitions. But any and all worries have been dispelled after last night. If you haven’t watched it, go do so now. If you have watched it, go watch it again. You know you want to.
Ben Whishaw’s acting was phenomenal. He captured Richard’s character so well - the whimsy, the insecurities, his sense of self-importance which was dependent on his crown. He delivered Richard’s extensive speeches beautifully. The scene on the beach was particularly excellent; I found myself hanging on his every word, and I felt such pity for him as he spoke of Kings “all murder’d”. Likewise, I thought the scene where he is deposed was incredible. It was so heart-felt and sincere - I had tears in my eyes when he smashed the mirror. At the start of the play, I wasn’t entirely sure if I liked Richard - in fact, his words about and actions towards John of Gaunt made me sure that I disliked him. And yet by his murder scene, I had developed a profound sympathy for Richard. He was so lost by this point, so utterly broken and shattered, that it was impossible not to feel sorry for him. Ben Whishaw, I take my hat off to you.
Patrick Stewart was equally fantastic as John of Gaunt. He delivered the speech about England so passionately and intensely that for a brief moment (and, as a proud Scottish girl, I am quite ashamed to admit this) I wanted to be English. I think that he and Ben Whishaw played really well off each other, even if their scenes were short and sweet.
I’m still trying to decide how I feel about Henry Bolingbroke, and trying to place when he decided to take not only his rightful land, but also the crown. I understand his intentions, because Richard was not a good leader. Critics have always commented, however, on how difficult Henry is to read, and I think that Rory Kinnear managed to keep an impartial look about him throughout most of the play. He was the complete opposite of eloquent, whimsy Richard; Kinnear was stony-faced and indifferent. And yet, at the end when he was told of Richard’s death, he showed his emotions and I finally felt some connection to him. I think it was important that this happened, because now I will feel (I am assuming) sympathy for King Henry IV in the next part.
The cinematography was brilliant. I loved the big, sweeping shot on the beach. The contrast developed between Richard II when he was in jail and Henry IV riding through the crowds was very moving. The moments preceding Richard’s death, where he learned that Henry was riding his horse, was a really poignant moment for me. And his death was… There are just no words. I was truly upset by the savage murder of the former King.
I was simply blown away by The Hollow Crown, Part 1. Like I said, if you haven’t already seen it, go watch it. I am eagerly awaiting Part 2, and that is no longer merely because of Tom Hiddleston. I am excited for the plot, the language, and the emotions that will, undoubtedly, be stirred up inside of me.
Thank you, BBC.
And thank you, Shakespeare.