I happened to catch the BBC? PBS segment (it was 2H4) of the second tetralogy today. It was okay. I found it hard to understand some of the dialog, but that may have to do with my television set up. And certainly, I'm not as good with British accents as most British folks probably are.
But then, there was the few minutes of director and actors talking about the production.
It was like they actually believed all the propaganda about how wonderful H5 was, and didn't notice any of the critical/questioning Shakespeare brings in. Seriously, the glory of H5 is that it makes you squirm about H5, and thus about political speech and propaganda.
Did you not notice that Henry doesn't remember or care about any of the "unnamed" people who died at Agincourt? Or that despite that speech, no one that I know of celebrates St. Crispin's Day in honor of the battle today? (Okay, a few crazy Shakespeare folks, but really? No one in Shakespeare's day did, either.)
Did you not notice that final epilogue, which acknowledges that all those deaths weren't even successful at garnering French territory for England for very long, and that, indeed, Henry screwed up as king in the most fundamental way by dying before his son was old enough to be an effective ruler?
And finally, Jeremy Irons dissing non-professional live performances? Sir, you're wrong! (I declare it on the intertubes!) Live performance is absolutely superior to introduce people to Shakespeare.
Okay, I'm done.
Did any of you see it?
And did you think the whole thing felt really dark? (I have a less than big screen TV, so that may be part of my perception about darkness.)
You must be talking about the god-awful Hollow Crown. It has a lot of famous people in it, but that's where the good part ends. The people who put the series together really have no idea what they're doing, and they are pretty jingoistic about England -- so much so that they can't see the forest for the trees. The Richard II is awful, for the most part too, in that R2 is grossly symbolic of Jesus. The imagery -- from facial hair, to robes, to the presentation of the body at the end -- is all Jesus. It's weird and awful. Then, they have Rory Kinear playing Bolingbroke in that show, then magically Jeremy Irons is Henry IV in 1H4. Curiously, though, Tom Hiddleston is Prince Hal/Henry V all the way through. It's a bizarre how continuity is maintained for a little piece of it, but not for the whole. Honestly, I could go on and on and on about how much they got wrong, but if I'm going to do that, I should probably do it in article form. Then again, I could probably write a book about it.ReplyDelete
I actually quite like the old BBC version of the Henriad from the 1970s. David Gwillim plays Prince Hal with the subtly that I like, but really the true delight is Antony Quayle as Falstaff. He is brilliant! Screw the rest of it -- Quayle makes it worth watching. In the Hollow Crown, Simon Russell Beale as Falstaff left me cold. I know that there are a lot of people who worship him, but I've never been impressed. Maybe he's better in person. Anyway -- it was stupidly bad.
I've been watching the old school BBC's 3H6 today while doing laundry. It is LONG (3.5 hours), but it's good for the most part. I still have 45 minutes to watch, but I'm not sure I'll have time to finish it today. I forgot, though, just how much awesomeness, as well as absurdity, is inside that play. The whole bloody thing is on YouTube, believe it or not.
The histories are my absolute favorite plays, and I really wish someone would get them right! What the hell!?! I talked to Graham Abbey (Canadian stage actor who will forever be Prince Hal/Henry V to me, since I saw him in both roles in 2001) when we were in Stratford, and apparently he is writing an adaptation of the histories that will take the two tetralogies and smoosh them down to two plays, which you'll be able to see one after the other on two different nights. I'm interested to see what that would do, although I dread thinking about how that might do harm to the work. Anyway -- it'll be interesting to see what happens.