Henry V, 2012

dir. Thea Sharrock

This is a review for episode 4 of The Hollow Crown (2012) BBC series.


Oh dear, what a slippery slope Hollow Crown was on from the day it cast Tom Hiddleston as Hal. Richard II was a masterpiece. Henry IV part 1 was pretty good and part 2 was okay. But Henry V was below standard. Poor Hollow Crown. I believe the term boardroom members use when examining a graph which demonstrates this kind of behaviour is ' plummeting '. Why? Because Tom Hiddleston – sterling chap, as I'm sure he is - just plain aint tough enough to be making threats about babies thrown off walls and cities full of widows raped. Testimony to this criticism is the axing of the 'busted traitors' scene, plainly one of the best scenes of the play and removed surely by necessity because Mr. Hiddleston was unable to deliver the goods, as indeed, he was unable to in the preceding 'tennis-ball' scene where the score did more work than his vocal chords did. Oh sure, the tennis-ball scene is always done with a stonecold face right? A little chuckle at the start, working it's way towards unbridled wrath and tyrannous condemnation? Only there was no wrath here, no tyranny, there was no fear and there was no warrior king. Dare I say it, this crown was a little too hollow? Ouch




Such a harsh review, I am reluctant to publish it at all. But the first 3 episodes of Hollow Crown demanded reviews, so I can hardly leave out the season finale, can I? Good points included John Hurt as the chorus turned narrator, probably one of the better performances in there even if it was a little sleepy like everything else in this movie. Of course, in his own right – just like Simon Russell Beale – John Hurt is a living legend of British cinema but he can only do so much to make up for the dreary, lack-lustre Henry V stumbling from scene to scene with less energy than a hyperactive koala bear. Paul Ritter as Pistol and Tom Georgeson's Bardolph are splendid, everything you want from the scandalous duo. Getting to see Bardolph hanged - something we are not usually shown - was a refreshing treat and a good insight into the burden of responsibility weighing down on the King's head. Also, lots of other reviewers seem to have a real problem with black actors in this series. I for one am flippin' grateful that Paterson Joseph (a don from the RSC) was there as York to give reaction shots some actual meaning. When he died I was genuinely quite upset as I thought 'oh well there goes my favourite actor in this production and he didn't even speak a single line!' and apparently the chorus thought so too because the movie ended shortly thereafter.





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