As part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, The BBC went all-out in their production of Shakespeare's Major Tetralogy, and managed to magnify some scenes which were already subject to tragedy in the original stagings.
- Richard II is book-ended via the shot of the crucifix at St. David's Cathedral, in the nave◊ which stands in for Westminster Hall, the royal court. The story begins with the camera panning from the crucifix down to Richard, enthroned in all his smug pomp and majesty. The film ends with Richard's corpse, wounded and naked save for a white loincloth whilst cradled by Bolingbroke / Henry The Fourth, then panning back to the crucifix, as if detachedly watching everything. How the Mighty Have Fallen perfectly shot in film.
- The people surrounding Richard's dead body (all having a part in his dethronement and death) pretty much breaking down from the entire events of the play: Aumerle (here granted the role of Exton's regicide) finally having a My God, What Have I Done? moment after killing his cousin (who loved him even in their direst straits), the Duke of York his father (who has been feeling guilty after betraying his trust and capitulating to Bolingbroke)... and finally Bolingbroke himself, whose anguish and regrets Rory Kinnear perfectly delivers:
- Henry IV, Part 2 was bound to be a Downer Ending from Henry V's Wham Line "I know thee not, old man" to Falstaff. The adaptation compounds it more with all of Falstaff's friends being seized by the authorities, and the last scene being of Falstaff, bound by guards, staring into the distance, pretty much seeing his friendship dissolve to nothingness.
- Henry V, then as now, ends on a bittersweet note (with Henry victorious yet dying to leave his young son Henry VI to unfortunately mismanage the realm and lose France). The Chorus (portrayed by John Hurt) is revealed to be the same young page Falstaff had who joined Ancient Pistol, Nym and Bardolph in Harfleur and Agincourt, managed to survive to old age (in contrast to other adaptations). The classic final line "[F]or their sake, In your fair minds let this acceptance take" is thus delivered by Hurt less in its original context ("Shakespeare wrote about this in the Henry VI plays already, so see them") and pretty much more like a weathered man who saw these events and says "We have seen their stories, their lives, their glories, and how pitifully short all that was. Let us accept how things turned out, and live for the better." The solemn dirge which opens and ends this film (both in the context of Henry V's funeral) playing in the background does not help matters.
- Bardolph lifelessly hanging after his execution (condemned for robbing a church and getting hanged for it). When Henry saw Bardolph hanging from a tree, all while Fluellen dismissively recounts his crime and punishment, Henry internally remembers all the fun times he had with Bardolph (and by extension, Falstaff). Then he has to declare publicly that Bardolph deserved to die, within the earshot of the mourning and enraged Ancient Pistol. All while that solemn dirge plays again as the English army, wounded and weary, slowly trudges through the mud.
- It is at this point that you realize that this adaptation of Henry/Prince Hal, compared to other adaptations, did genuinely love Falstaff and the common people, but is bound by his destiny as a Plantagenet king to demand hardships of them to protect his kingdom.