Television: The Hollow Crown – Richard II (2012)

Posted 15 March, 2014 by Lianne in Entertainment / 2 Comments

Fey, vain and foolish, young Richard initiates his downfall by banishing Henry Bolingbroke and the Earl of Mowbray as a resolution to their feud and then confiscating the lands of his uncle, Bolingbroke’s father John of Gaunt, on John’s death,to pay for a war in Ireland which he loses.


Regarding the following video: Sorry, rather than using the main trailer featuring all four episodes, I tried finding clips to each episode. So here’s a scene from Richard II instead πŸ˜‰

At long last I have gotten my hands on The Hollow Crown DVD boxed set πŸ˜€ I have not read any of the history plays by Shakespeare as of yet save for Julius Caesar (review) so this was going to be a new experience for me. I thought about reading the plays first but I am too excited to wait and watch this (with the production value and the casting looking so brilliant) so I decided to start watching it instead πŸ˜‰

I did have my Shakespeare out when I started watching this play and the adaptation appears quite flawless from the page to the screen; some of the dialogue and speeches were shortened (Thomas Mowbray’s rebuke in the first scene against Bolingbroke’s charges was the one I noticed) and there were a few changes to who did what (by the looks of it, one character’s actions at the end of the play; I haven’t however checked it out in my copy yet so I may be wrong here) but otherwise it looks pretty close.

By the way, is it me or are Shakespeare’s history plays easier to follow? Just a random thought that sprang to mind while watching this adaptation *nods*

The cast, hands down, does not disappoint. The best actors in the UK right now come out in this production in full force, occupying both major and minor characters, whether it be Sir Patrick Stewart as John of Gaunt, David Suchet as the Duke of York or Lindsay Duncan as the Duchess of York. I was pleasantly surprised to see James Purefoy here as Thomas Mowbray–did not recognise him at first!–and French actress Clemence Poesy also appears here as Queen Isabella. Ben Whishaw of course was especially brilliant as Richard II, with all of his faults and all of his appeared benevolence; I love how he and the production chose to portray Richard II as one who wished to portray himself as Christ-like, from his clothes to his gestures, but underneath it all he lacks resolve and can be rather vain. You can tell Whishaw really just threw himself into the role with ever monologue he delivered, and it was fantastic. It was also interesting to see Rory Kinnear in a very prominent role; of course, it will be especially interesting to see how Jeremy Irons picks up the character later on, but for now it was great to see Kinnear in the role of young Henry, returning from exile to claim what is his by right.

Production-wise, you can tell what sort of budget was put into the production and it does not disappoint. The use of locations, both out on location and the interiors of great buildings, to set the stage was absolutely fantastic and really adds to the performances. The music was also great; I love how intense the music got during the scene when Richard’s men pillaged the Lancaster castle.

Overall, I really enjoyed this adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. It’s long–running 2+ hours–but it was fantastic. I cannot wait to watch the next three installments in this series.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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2 Responses to “Television: The Hollow Crown – Richard II (2012)”

  1. I loved this as well (though Richard II the least of the 4 plays) and found it rather easy to follow (after 15 minutes or so, once I had gotten used to the language LOL)

    • Agreed, it was quite accessible, which is fantastic (I’m slowly getting through reading the plays (sort of) and Henry IV part 1 would have dragged a lot more had it not been for watching the adaptations beforehand) πŸ™‚

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