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Shakespeare's Richard III


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A few years ago Al Pacino fooled around with that play -- wasn't very good at it - just a Godfather in medieval dress. Anyway I was lucky enough today to catch the 1995 film with Ian McKennan as Richard, Jim Broadbent as Buckingham, Annette Bening as Richard's sister-in-law, Maggie Smith as Richard's mother.... a wonderful, wonderful production, in 1930s costumes envisioning a fascist state (Britain in a parallel universe?)with Richard's flag much like Hitler's Nazi banner. Ian was terrific and nobody should ever play that part without studying his technique in 1995. The hunchback was very slight, but it was painful and it extended to one of his arms. As always, the phone rang when I wanted to catch how he would read, A horse, my kingdom for a horse ! ! He was facing tanks and Richmond, but there were several war horses on the battlefield. I also missed another of my favorite lines: So much for Buckingham.

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Gosh darn it all to heck. I was hoping to find a Shakespearean expert among this posting throng, but noooooooooo. For example, Buckingham offers the British throne to Richard, cajoling, persuading, pleading with him to accept. I'm not familiar enough - have no text in the house, but he keeps turning it down, playing to the mob as lacking the AMBITION for that terrible job of monarch. Shakespeare does a similar thing in Julius Caesar where Marc Anthony holds a coronet over Caesar's head and he keeps refusing it, playing to the mob. I wonder if McKellan or his director took a page from Caesar, if if Shakespeare used the device in both his plays. Ah, well, I'll take that question to my grave. I'm pretty sure that when McKellen turns to the audience after accepting the throne and stage whispers to us: after all, I'm not made of STONE... with a little smile -- I doubt that was in the original play.

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I had to laugh when Helen Mirren as Bess I dismisses the threat from Holland and Palma -- with just two words spoken perjoratively: The Dutch !!


Was a bit jarred on seeing the interplay with the Duke D'Anjou, an ancestor of mine. What if they had married and produced children - might I have been born in the Sceptered Isle? It was uncanny how much Mary, the so-called Queen of Scots resembles my grandmother. Just two idle thoughts with nothing to do about nothing.

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