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Richard III on film

There are two excellent movie versions of which I am aware:

First up, the "modern" version from 1995, which is set in a fictionalized fascist England. It stars Ian McKellen as Richard III, and has a pretty amazing cast (although this is not one of Robert Downey Jr's finer performances - he plays Rivers, brother to Annette Bening's Queen Elizabeth - also not one of her finer performances, in my opinion). Kristin Scott Thomas does a remarkable turn as Lady Anne. Richard's brother Clarence is played by the magnificent Nigel Hawthorne (Clarence), and the roles of Queen Margaret and the Duchess of York are conflated into the Duchess of York's character, played by Maggie Smith, who is, of course, marvelous. The dishy Dominic West plays the Earl of Richmond (who would become Henry VII). Well worth a watch. While you don't have to be familiar with the play in order to follow the film, your enjoyment of the film would be improved

The "classic" version of the film, in more than one way. Laurence Olivier really, truly nailed the role of Richard III, making it difficult for some who came after him. Then again, Olivier really nailed an awful lot of Shakespeare's lead roles, so I suppose that's no surprise. His performance has been widely parodied by comedians over the years, including Peter Sellers, who recited the Beatles' "A Hard Days Night" in the style of Olivier's Richard III in a TV appearance in the 60's. And yes, Slatts, that bit of trivia was just for you.

A third film that deserves mention here (in part because Tessa Gratton said so) is Looking for Richard, a documentary directed by Al Pacino. This movie is high on my to-find-and-watch list, but I've not yet seen it. What I know is that it features some scenes from the play (with Pacino as Richard III, Aidan Quinn (yum!) as Richmond, and Kevin Spacey (yum!) as Buckingham) as well as interviews with known Shakespearean actors, including Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Kline, Derek Jacobi and James Earl Jones, as well as "man on the street" interviews. Sounds fabulous!

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 22nd, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC)
You know, my favorite scene from Looking for Richard is when they're doing Richard and Anne's first meeting. Richard = Pacino, and Anne = Winona Ryder. They cut between the two of them in costume performing the scene in a tomb, and the actors talking about what's happening in the scene and rehearsing... and it. is. so. sexy. Which is not something I usually think about that scene. YUM.
Jun. 22nd, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
I'm looking forward to watching this.
Jun. 22nd, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
Looking for Richard is great. Al Pacino is *really* passionate about his Shakespeare.
Jun. 22nd, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
Can't wait to watch it!
Jun. 22nd, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
I have to admit that Richard II & III were my least favorite plays to read. But the Al Pacino movie does sound intriguing, so I might have to check it out.
Jun. 22nd, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC)
I didn't truly love Richard III either, but really there is more to find humor in (and to enjoy) in the play than there is in McKellan's movie version. I think I'd like to see a live performance of it.
Jun. 23rd, 2009 02:04 am (UTC)
I have a VHS copy of Looking For Richard that is well loved, they did some of the filming at The Cloisters (I think that's the name) to get that period look without spending overly much. And all the interviews with the marvelous Shakespearean actors are, well, marvelous. :)
Jun. 23rd, 2009 02:39 am (UTC)
My library has a copy - I'm hoping to claim it soon!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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