The Hollow Crown is an exciting television adaptation of William Shakespeare’s four history plays known as the Henriad (Richard II, Henry IV: Part 1, Henry IV: Part 2, and Henry V) and aired as part of PBS’s Great Performances series in 2013. The entire Hollow Crown series is available on DVD and is well worth watching for any Shakespeare fan or novice.
My personal favourite of the adaptations is Henry V, which was directed by Thea Sharrock (Equus, The Misanthrope, After the Dance) and stars Tom Hiddleston (War Horse, The Deep Blue Sea, Thor). This play largely continues where Henry IV: Part 2 left off, with the charismatic playboy Prince Hal transforming into the respected and courageous King Henry – excellently portrayed by Hiddleston (a protégé of Kenneth Branagh, who previously played the heroic king in the 1989 film). Hiddleston manages to preserve the character’s vulnerability throughout the series and gives a quiet, yet powerful performance. John Hurt (The Elephant Man, Midnight Express, Melancholia) also gives a particularly moving performance as the Chorus and Mélanie Thierry delivers some of the play’s lighter moments as the young, proper, and beautiful Princess Katherine, Henry’s future French bride. Whereas past cinematic interpretations of the play either emphasis the nationalistic glory of war or the horrifying realities of the battlefield, this version seems to find a good middle ground and frames the play around Henry’s own mortality. This makes the play more relatable for modern audiences.
Prince Charming, I mean Tom Hiddleston