Shakespeare on TV done correctly
July 3, 2012 3:26 AM   Subscribe

The Hollow Crown is a season of 4 of Shakespeare's history plays being broadcast by the BBC. Avoiding past mistakes these are made for a television audience and set on location.

This post is a heads up for non Brits. Richard II was stunning, the Guardian thought so too.
posted by epo (46 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
I went to a preview screening of Henry IV last night. It was beautifully shot and the acting was excellent across the board. Simon Russell Beale as Falstaff was particularly good, managing to wring out a great deal of pathos for the old fat scoundrel.

Plus there was plenty of shirtless/bloodied/weeping Tom Hiddleston, so, you know, something for everyone.
posted by fight or flight at 3:34 AM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Richard II was good enough for me to get completely engrossed in it, even if it did have some of the awkwardness of a play turned movie, where some of the "artificialness" of theatre clashes with the "realism" of the movie set. Once I got used to it it worked brilliantly though.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:37 AM on July 3, 2012


I look forward to maybe watching it in 2025 when BBC America finally decides to think about considering the possibility of one day convening a meeting to discuss the options of perhaps looking into putting it on the air.
posted by autopilot at 3:41 AM on July 3, 2012 [10 favorites]


Wow, Ben Wishaw was great as Richard II! It was really much more engrossing than I expected it to be.
posted by vacapinta at 3:43 AM on July 3, 2012


Thanks for this. I just watched the adaptations of Julius Caesar and Macbeth that are currently up on BBC IPlayer. First time I ever saw any Shakespeare and spent an evening tryong to hunt down more to watch online. I will be all over this.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 3:53 AM on July 3, 2012


Julius Ceasar was very enjoyable, as was the Simon Shama two-piece.
posted by fullerine at 4:02 AM on July 3, 2012


Richard II (and last weeks Caesar) was indeed awesome. I've always wondered why the Beeb doesn't do more Shakespeare when they're perfectly happy flogging Dickens to death.

The Derek Jacobi documentary rehashing all those terrible conspiracy theories about the authorship of the plays was pretty tediously awful though.
posted by brilliantmistake at 4:08 AM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I quite like those much-maligned 1970s/80s BBC productions of Shakespeare. OK, they look awful and most of them are extremely unimaginative, but they're fairly convenient when you want to take in one of the plays without having to read it.
posted by mattn at 4:16 AM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


So just to be clear, there's no way we 'murricans can see these?
posted by PlusDistance at 4:31 AM on July 3, 2012


Uh... no legal way. And I'm sure no one on metafilter uses torrents.
posted by ubiquity at 4:38 AM on July 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


BBC America is too busy running endless Star Trek reruns to be bothered with Shakespeare.
posted by octothorpe at 4:46 AM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


So just to be clear, there's no way we 'murricans can see these?

Well, you can wait until the DVD is released in the UK.

Then go here and buy that DVD player.

And then go here to get the region unlock code for said DVD player.

It seems that in the UK, DVDs are released in a much more timely manner than here in the states. This is how I stay up on Lewis and other assorted British shows that I don't want to wait for BBC America or PBS or whomever to get around to showing. While it lack the immediacy of pirating, it does mean I can watch on your couch in the air conditioned living room rather than huddled in front of my computer on an office chair in the heat.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:46 AM on July 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Gods, Shakespeare is so derivative. Not a unique idea in the lot.
posted by clvrmnky at 4:53 AM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree completely. The Taming of the Shrew totally ripped all the best ideas from 10 Things I Hate About You.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:55 AM on July 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Not to mention Falstaff being a thinly veiled Homer Simpson
posted by brilliantmistake at 5:01 AM on July 3, 2012 [4 favorites]




"BBC America is too busy running endless Star Trek reruns to be bothered with Shakespeare."

And Top Gear.
posted by AnnElk at 5:19 AM on July 3, 2012


First time I ever saw any Shakespeare

*blink blink* I...I'm sort of simultaneously a little astounded and really envious. If you liked Macbeth, be sure to check out the Ian McKellen/Judi Dench version from 1979, or the Roman Polanski film, or the Kurosawa adaptation Throne of Blood which transports the action to feudal Japan. If you'd like to go a little more off the beaten path, Julie Taymor's Titus with Anthony Hopkins is a really good version of one of Shakespeare's least-produced plays.

Also:

The Derek Jacobi documentary rehashing all those terrible conspiracy theories about the authorship of the plays was pretty tediously awful though.

I knew I should have switched off the second he said the word "Oxford", but I foolishly stuck with it, and Mrs. Example actually transcribed parts of my yelling at the screen into her Twitter feed.

(Jacobi: "...I actually think Oxford has the best claim."
Me, frothing at the mouth by then: "That is because you are FUCKING HUFFING PAINT.")
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:43 AM on July 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


>>> So just to be clear, there's no way we 'murricans can see these?

There is a way.
posted by grabbingsand at 5:43 AM on July 3, 2012


A great play to get started with if you're new to Shakespeare, or been turned off it in the past, is "Much Ado about Nothing". You can buy a (sadly DRM-laden, Adobe Air-bound) copy of an outstanding production starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate from Digital Theatre. It's enormous fun. I'm also looking forward to Joss Whedon's version which is due soon(?). Branagh's version polarises opinion (and has the worst Dogberry I've ever seen, IMHO - the one in the Tennant/Tate production is brilliant), but I quite like it, and it's probably on Netflix.

Also a quick shout out to /r/shakespeare where I'm a mod. If you're ever in London and fancy a trip to the Globe Theatre, look me up :-)
posted by WastedTruth at 5:48 AM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


WRT Shakespeare on film, someone who hasn't seen much Shakespeare (or any) might be enticed by a version of Richard III starring Gandalf/Magneto and Iron Man/Sherlock Holmes, set in 1930s Britain. Or there's the more-traditionally-set Henry V directed by (and starring) the director of Thor.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:53 AM on July 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


*blink blink* I...I'm sort of simultaneously a little astounded and really envious. If you liked Macbeth, be sure to check out the Ian McKellen/Judi Dench version from 1979, or the Roman Polanski film, or the Kurosawa adaptation Throne of Blood which transports the action to feudal Japan. If you'd like to go a little more off the beaten path, Julie Taymor's Titus with Anthony Hopkins is a really good version of one of Shakespeare's least-produced plays.

Thanks very much. Will have to look these up on Lovefilm.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 6:07 AM on July 3, 2012


Branagh Henry V, fuck yeah. Among other things it has Brian Blessed kicking ass with a mace.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:11 AM on July 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


Shot on location.
posted by fullerine at 6:38 AM on July 3, 2012


Oh cool! I've recently been reading a shit-ton about Owain Glyndŵr and was thinking I should try to track down a production of Henry IV Pt I, in which he is a character. Perfect timing!
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:40 AM on July 3, 2012


Yeah, Branagh's Henry V is wonderful. The Eve of St Crispin's Day speech will stir even a pacifist to war. I look forward to comparing The Hollow Thrown version.
posted by gilrain at 6:43 AM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


A bit of Henry V trivia: Branagh shot the entire film in the time it took to shoot just the Olivier version's Agincourt battle scene.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:48 AM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hollow Crown was partly financed by the UK public broadcasting budget of BBC2, but they expected the rest of the money to come from BBC Worldwide, which is an autonomous BBC commercial for-profit arm that targets non-UK markets. Somewhat surprisingly they said no. So Sam Mendes turned to the American multinational corporation NBC Universal instead -
"Instead, Mendes looked elsewhere and found that NBC Universal – which is rapidly expanding in Britain with programmes such as Downton Abbey – was willing to buy the overseas and DVD rights. NBC believes it can sell The Hollow Crown as a 10-part miniseries of hour-long episodes in some areas, on the lines of The Tudors."
posted by Bwithh at 6:54 AM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Polanski's Macbeth is my favourite Bill on film. Gritty and fierce.
posted by ovvl at 7:02 AM on July 3, 2012


NBC believes it can sell The Hollow Crown as a 10-part miniseries of hour-long episodes in some areas, on the lines of The Tudors.

Will they digitally add the random oddly-hairless nudity, or what?
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:08 AM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thank you Reggie and fullerine for the Schama, Caesar and Macbeth heads up. Oh, and the spellings are "Whishaw" and "Hollow Crown", you know who you are.
posted by epo at 7:55 AM on July 3, 2012


Hmm, that came out as snarky, wasn't meant to be.
posted by epo at 8:01 AM on July 3, 2012


My corner of the internet has made me verrrry aware of the existence of these, due to the participation of Mr. Tom Hiddleston. You should see the gifs.
posted by whitneyarner at 8:33 AM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


BBC trailer for The Hollow Crown, for those who couldn't get it to play on the BBC page.
posted by needled at 9:20 AM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Psst! Interested in seeing a bit more about the RSC/BBC Julius Caesar film? There's a "behind-the-scenes" featurette on its making here [scroll down a bit]. There are others in the pipeline: eventually, six in total and they'll be freely available too.

[Disclaimer: I worked on the production in a minor capacity as Academic Advisor for the OU.]
posted by Sonny Jim at 10:12 AM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


So just to be clear, there's no way we 'murricans can see these?
*ahem* www.unblock-us.com
posted by defcom1 at 10:24 AM on July 3, 2012


If you like the Richard II part of Hollow Crown, then you will love hate be confused by James Ivory's upcoming version --- in 3D! For God's sake let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories.
posted by CCBC at 2:15 PM on July 3, 2012


So just to be clear, there's no way we 'murricans can see these?

Incidentally, there is global BBC access available through an iPad App, although it doesn't seem to have made its way to the US - thus far, it covers Western Europe, Canada and Australia.
posted by Marlinspike at 2:26 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


So just to be clear, there's no way we 'murricans can see these?

TunnelBear.
posted by tzikeh at 3:21 PM on July 3, 2012


For those who wish to remain on the right side of the law:
They will also be screened later in the year in the US on PBS – the Hollow Crown is co-produced with help from the big bucks of NBC Universal. -- The Telegraph
posted by tzikeh at 3:24 PM on July 3, 2012


For those so inclined a digital media player will let you watch such ill gotten fruits as conscious allows on your larger than life flat screen. They are priced very reasonably and perform quite well over a variety of codecs.
posted by pdxpogo at 4:00 PM on July 3, 2012


someone in the ether mention thebox.bz, wont say more, or even hint, at what it is or how it enables 'murricans.
posted by halatukit at 4:43 PM on July 3, 2012


Something I lost in my horrific data vault drive erasing mistake was a complete performance of the War Of The Roses Shakespeare plays, I think there were 8 of them or more, all done by the same cast, with the same people playing the same parts across the entire cycle (or appearing in new roles later on if their character was killed or no longer part of the story).

It was full of the magic of theater, with interesting staging and great performances. As is typical with filmed stage productions, it tended toward something a bit more static than most people these days seem to enjoy, but I found them enthralling.

I was looking around a bit, but didn't find any immediate links which led me to believe I was reading about what I had (have)... But they are great, and I recommend them.

I look forward to when I can do some data recovery on that drive, and maybe get most of the content back, including that entire play cycle. I'd watch it again starting tonight if it were possible.

I hadn't heard about these new filmings, so I'll have to check them out when I get a chance.
posted by hippybear at 6:46 PM on July 3, 2012


someone in the ether mention thebox.bz

Invitation only, strict ratio maintenance. I love it, but it's not something everyone is willing to do right.
posted by hippybear at 6:47 PM on July 3, 2012


Thank God for UK based VPNs.
posted by atrazine at 5:42 AM on July 4, 2012


Just watched Richard II. Liked it to begin with, loved it at the end. Have a feeling I might like it even more on a second run through now I have a better feel for Richards character.

Looking forward to Henry IV part 1 now as well.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 4:27 PM on July 4, 2012


It's possible to find "War of the Roses" here and there online.

And someone has posted it on youtube, though I don't know if they've posted the whole thing or not.
posted by grumblebee at 8:05 AM on July 5, 2012


« Older Super Doomed Planet Comics...  |  Rooms photographed from above... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments