DIRECTOR: RICHARD LONCRAINE
COUNTRY: USA/ENGLAND 1995
CINEMATOGRAPHY: PETER BIZIOU
MUSIC: GEOFF ALEXANDER, COLIN GOOD, TREVOR JONES, JULIAN KERSHAW
CAST: Ian McKellen, Annette Benning, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jim Broadbent, Robert Downey Jr., Maggie Smith,
SUPER FEATURES: Shakespeare will rarely get better than this.
Shakespeare has rarely been displayed on the screen so well. It might do the bard proud.
This version of the play, is really what West End has been about with Shakespeare that film has not come to yet, or only recently has it gained
the guts to recreate the stories. And it takes a staple of actors willing to share the vision, to make it come about. This is riveting Shakespeare
at its very best, taken to the x-factor, to display even better, the rudeness and the beauty of its characters, villains included.
The story of Richard III is not new. The bastard king that killed his way to the throne, one day, eventually, finds himself on the wrong end of the stick. But what makes this special is the time period that it was created, and what becomes a serious attack on the British crown, in a subtle way, that really states, that the English also are guilty of the same stuff.... we know they were, even if Shakespeare is the only one that will describe the events. The history books seem to soften things up.
In this version, it is a sort of pre Nazi area, that to this reviewer could just as easily be Germany, as it was in England. There is, and there was, no less manipulation in the golden years of the English crown.
But if the story is not enough, what the actors do in this play is worth the price of admission. Few will actually think of this as a movie, though,
for it is a "play" and it works like it, and not as a smooth film story that Hollywood would ever touch. But the bits that Hollywood would enjoy, that the play has, like the asides, really are what makes this film so enjoyable. We see Richard at his villainous best, and the line delivery is comparable to Sir John Gielgud lines in PROSPERO'S BOOKS, another film that takes Shakespeare to a level that is way and above its own abilities on a stage.
With some riveting acting, by Ian McKellen, this film is very good, and, really, off the wall. I almost would prefer to see this on the stage, so
that I can give it a standing ovation, which it merits. But, in no way, does it mean that the rest is not well done. Annette Benning, as the bought off queen is very good, as is the rest of the cast.
Excellent production, but don't go see it if you like traditional Shakespeare, or you will be disappointed. Other than that it is magnificent, and fresh. Would love to see "The Merchant of Venice" done this way....
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