Victoria A. Jeffrey's authorly doings. . .

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Hollow Crown

I have managed to find the full series of the marvelous, BBC produced The Hollow Crown. This is a four part series of Shakespeare's histories. A little background here: I was first introduced to Shakespeare in middle school. I saw Zefirelli's The Taming of the Shrew. They showed it at school, I kid you not! I also saw his version of Romeo and Juliet at home and these were instrumental  in creating a love in me for the Bard.

To me, Shakespeare is the greatest writer in the western world and if you can incorporate what you learn from his stories into your own work as an author you will add depth to your own work. Besides the Bible, Russian classics and Tolkien, I look to Shakespeare for inspiration.

Shakespeare's histories have some of the greatest passages in the English language, my favorite play being Henry V. Kenneth Branagh's version made me a fan of both Shakespeare on film and Branagh (and through him also his then-wife, Emma Thompson) for life. It was and still is one of the very best films ever made, in my opinion.

So, we come to another version of Henry V and also this is my first time seeing Richard II, Henry IV Parts One and Two. With a stellar cast, most of them I am familiar with from seeing them in other films and shows, I knew it would be an excellent production. I wasn't wrong. You can catch the entire series of filmed plays on YouTube and I would encourage everyone to watch them. Especially as an author the way Shakespeare uses language is mesmerizing and very educational. The language and turns of phrase are beautiful without being florid and his insight into the human mind and the human condition transcends time. If you are willing to listen and get past the "thous" and the "thees" (I rather like that kind of stuff) there is a wealth of information about how to construct a great story. On my own, I must admit, Shakespeare is difficult to understand but with the help of directors, producers and actors who know and thoroughly understand Shakespeare you can glean a lot of valuable information about the stories he wrote. Many of them are based solidly in history or grand myths. Even if you are not a writer, just for emotional and intellectual enjoyment you should watch this series. It is one of the very best things on television this year - thanks to Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee this year. I don't know that it is directly related but culturally I do think it is related to the celebration of her reign in Britain. For extra insight about these particular historical plays check out the documentary narrated by Jeremy Irons. The series starts with Richard II, then goes to the reign of Henry IV, Richard's cousin and ends with the son, Henry V.

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