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
Like many people I had trouble deciphering the compulsory Shakespeare studies of my high school days. It seems THE MERCHANT OF VENICE is considered ideal for starters - my later teaching experience revealed this to be the 'default' choice for an introduction to the bard! My final year saw THE TEMPEST as the compulsory choice in English literature. Like many also,I found it was not until later higher education studies that the works of Shakespeare seemed more enticing.HENRY IV PART I was largely unknown to me until this TV series THE HOLLOW CROWN, although I was familiar with some of the plot and a smattering of knowledge about the character Falstaff. Originally, I had thought Falstaff was a much loved Shakespearian character (I cannot recall what made me form this opinion), so it was somewhat of a surprise to feel repulsed by Falstaff throughout this particular series episode. What a cowardly, unchivalrous, thieving, lying lump of a man. And congratulations to Simon Russell Beale for his superb characterization. So dominant was Falstaff's presence (compared with the king Henry IV), it seemed to me this episode could have been entitled "Falstaff's Follies"!
I was most impressed by the performances of all actors in the major and minor roles - Jeremy Irons was simply superb as was Julie Walters' Mistress Quickly. Tom Hiddleston nailed the role of Hal as the rebellious wastrel, albeit, with a sense of honour.Joe Armstrong excelled as the aggrieved Hotspur living up to his name which suggests hotheadedness.
Despite my very favorable impressions of the production overall, the dominance of the character of Falstaff plus the fact that I felt little sympathy for any of the other characters, left me with a somewhat empty feeling as the credits rolled.
I hope the fat guy is put in his place in Part II?!
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