1403: Henry IV finds himself facing uprisings from the Welsh chieftain Owen Glendower and impetuous young Harry "Hotspur" Percy, son of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, angry with the ...
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1403: Henry IV finds himself facing uprisings from the Welsh chieftain Owen Glendower and impetuous young Harry "Hotspur" Percy, son of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, angry with the king for not paying Glendower ransom for his brother-in-law Mortimer. Another trial for Henry is the fact that his son, Prince Hal, keeps company with the older, reprobate drunkard Sir John Falstaff. Though the prince is his friend he is not above playing cruel jests on Falstaff, robbing him in disguise and returning his money after Falstaff has given an exaggerated account of his bravery in the hold-up. However, Hal joins his father at the wintry battle of Shrewsbury to put down Hotspur's revolt, where Hal kills Hotspur in single combat - Falstaff later claiming credit for the deed. Hotspur is routed but Henry and Hal still have to face the uprisings of Glendower and Nortumberland, now joined by the archbishop of York. Written by
Henry IV Part 1 focuses on rebellion and uprising. Welsh chieftain Owen Glendower and young Harry Hotspur, son of the Duke of Northumberland are angry with the king and plot to do battle despite the king pursuing peace with the warring factions.
Henry IV is also envious in the battle hardened Harry Hotspur in comparison with his own son Prince Hal who forever keeps himself in the company of lowlife such as Sir John Falstaff and is pals in various taverns getting involved in all sorts of japes, getting drunk and whoring.
However Hal feels the need to prove to his father that he is ready to do battle and joins his father to stop the revolts and it is Hal who fights and kills Harry Hotspur.
Jeremy Irons has a glorified cameo as the weary Henry IV knowing that he himself usurped the throne from Richard II and now has to fight to keep it. Tom Hiddleston is the clowning prince who realises that as heir to the throne he needs to prove himself to his father and prospective loyal subjects. Simon Russell Beale plays Falstaff as conniving, cunning and boisterous.
Richard Eyre has used locations to bring the play to live and take it away from a studio setting to make it look less stage bound.
However we also see the difficulties of adapting Shakespeare for a new visual audience. These plays were made for a time where people were entertained for four hours or more. Even though this was cut down it felt over long and we are only in Part 1 still. If this was a movie the kernel of the story could be done in a hour. The rest is tomfoolery with Falstaff and his crowd, otherwise known as padding.
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