The Weekend's Viewing: The Hollow Crown: Henry V, Sat, BBC2
Girl Power: Going for Gold, Sun, BBC3


Here's an odd test for Thea Sharrock, directing the last of the BBC's excellent history play series The Hollow Crown.

Until now the enterprise (indeed any filmed Shakespeare) has been quietly haunted by an unseen character: one who rather pointedly addresses the difference between word and thing, and apologises for an insufficiency that film isn't actually subject to. "Think when we talk of horses, that you see them," invites the Chorus at the beginning of Henry V, an invitation that is superfluous when you can provide real horses with real clanking horsemen on their back. So, is there any place for the Chorus at the beginning of a filmed version of the play, which will be unconfined by the wooden O? Then again how brave would you have to be to cut some of the most famous lines out of the play altogether?

Braver than Sharrock, obviously, though what followed suggested that she doesn't lack the will for editorial surgery, with great chunks of Shakespeare's text disappearing entirely in the interests of cinematic fluidity. But she kept the prologue, running it over a premonition of Henry's early death as if to distract you from its redundancy: CGI took the place of all that supposing the Chorus invites us to do and left John Hurt with just the sonorous poetry, and the proto-cinematic compressions of narrative that can cut in an instant from failed negotiation to the opening volley of a seige: "The offer likes not: and the nimble gunner/ With linstock now the devilish cannon touches."

It's a little unfortunate that Henry V is the weakest of the four plays, crowning what has been a wonderfully stirring enterprise with a less satisfactory conclusion. The excisions here (understandably perhaps) nibbled away at the statecraft and policy in favour of battlefield action and the big set-piece declamations. And even there an anxiety not to follow the rut of previous versions had weakened the effect a little. Henry's "once more unto the breach" speech was given as a half-time team huddle rather than public address and his pre-Agincourt speech was a top-brass-only affair, certainly sanctioned by the text but still not entirely satisfactory with lines that are literally rabble-rousing.

Sharrock was on surer ground with the other ranks, including a heartbreaking farewell from Bardolph and Nym in London (the latter's self-conscious "adieu" particularly wrenching), a little touch of Harry in the night and the testing ruthlessness of Henry's execution of Bardolph, underlined here with a short flashback to their carousing days. And if Agincourt itself occasionally looked a little short of personnel, she'd got the smirching dirt of war, the way the deed itself leaves every bright badge of valour stained with mud or blood. It may not have been the finest of the films, but it didn't let the others down.

Girl Power: Going for Gold was about women worrying about their weights, a profile of three of the female contenders for the British weightlifting team. Paradoxically, for most of them, training involves learning how to lift ever heavier weights above their head while striving to drop kilos off their own personal weight, since (as with boxers) that's how the classes are divided. Not Hannah, though, a mere slip of a thing who had been instructed to go out and eat cup cakes for her country, in order to bump up her strength.

The film, like many recent Olympic documentaries, was another lesson in the exigency and cruelty of high-level sport, with the two most dedicated and disciplined women finally failing to make the cut, while Zoe – who'd already had her Olympic funding stopped once for lack of commitment – made it through to the team as the youngest woman ever to do so. She'd been just 60 grams under the qualifying weight at one competition, after a moment of weakness with a Subway roll. Perhaps proximity has sharpened her appetite for a medal.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
    The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

    The ZX Spectrum is back

    The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
    Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

    Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

    The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

    If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
    The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

    The quirks of work perks

    From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
    Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

    Is bridge becoming hip?

    The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
    Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

    The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

    Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
    The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

    The rise of Lego Clubs

    How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
    5 best running glasses

    On your marks: 5 best running glasses

    Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
    Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada