30 May 2016

Richard III (McKellen)

Richard III 1995
  • Director: Richard Loncraine
  • Based on the play by William Shakespeare
  • Cast: Ian McKellen, Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Robert Downey Jr, Nigel Hawthorne, Kristin Scott Thomas, John Wood, Maggie Smith, Jim Carter, Edward Hardwicke, Adrian Dunbar, Dominic West, Tim McInnery, Bill Patterson
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Ian McKellen – Vicious, King Lear, Extras, Stardust, Lord of the Rings, X-Men, David Copperfield, Richard III, Cold Comfort Farm, Six Degrees of Separation, The Ballad of Little Jo, Macbeth, Othello
    • Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right, Being Julia, American Beauty, Mars Attacks!, Postcards from the Edge
    • Jim Broadbent – the Harry Potter films, Another Year, Filth, The Young Victoria, Vera Drake, Gangs of New York, Moulin Rouge, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Topsy-Turvy, Little Voice, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Richard III, The Crying Game, Enchanted April, Life Is Sweet, Black Adder, Brazil
    • Robert Downey Jr – Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows, Sherlock Holmes, The Soloist, Zodiac, Fur, A Scanner Darkly, Good Night and Good Luck, Gothica, Black and White
    • Nigel Hawthorne – Amistad, Twelfth Night, The Madness of King George, Gandhi, The Tempest, Holocaust
    • Kristin Scott Thomas – My Old Lady, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Contre toi, Elle s’appelait Sarah, Nowhere Boy, The Other Boleyn Girl, Il y’a longtemps que je t’aime, Keeping Mum, Gosford Park, The English Patient, Angels and Insects, Richard III, Four Weddings and a Funeral
    • John Wood - Chocolat, Longitude, Jane Eyre, The Madness of King George, Orlando
    • Maggie Smith – My Old Lady, Hotel Marigold 1 and 2, Downton Abbey, the Harry Potter films, The Quartet, Becoming Jane, Keeping Mum, Ladies in Lavender, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Gosford Park, David Copperfield, Tea with Mussolini, The First Wives’ Club, Richard III, Sister Acts 1 and 2, A Room with a View, Quartet (1981), Oh What a Lovely War, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
    • Jim Carter – Downton Abbey, My Week with Marilyn, Cranford, Creation, Modigliani, Ella Enchanted, Bright Young Things, Shakespeare in Love, Keep the Aspidistra Flying, Brassed Off, The Madness of King George
    • Edward Hardwicke – Love Actually, David Copperfield, Elizabeth, Titus Andronicus, Holocaust, The Onedin Line
    • Adrian Dunbar – The Hollow Crown, The Crying Game, Morse, My Left Foot
    • Dominic West – Testament of Youth, Mona Lisa’s Smile, Chicago, 28 Days, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Surviving Picasso
    • Tim McInnery – Hustle, Othello, Longitude, Notting Hill, Black Adder
    • Bill Patterson – Creation, Amazing Grace, A Midsummer Night’s Dream Retold, Bright Young Things, Sunshine, Hilary and Jackie, Auf Wiedersehen Pet
  • Why? Shakespeare
  • Seen:  Several times. Now 29 May 2016      

       Shakespeare works no matter what era he’s place in. This time it’s a kind of fascist England with Ian McKellen as the charismatic and vicious Hitler/Richard.
       It’s an ingenious concept, brilliantly executed, performed to perfection by the British crème de la crème cast (oddly the three American actors, though good in other films, are all weak in their roles here).
       It’s raw, bold, unmerciful but charming, gruesome and glittery. Liberties are taken in showing things only related in the play. Usually it works but not the unnecessary wedding and love scene between Richmond (the soon-to-be Henry VII) and young Elizabeth. The most unfortunate cut from this long play is the role of Margaret, such a great character, but a couple of her important lines are spoken by the magnificent Maggie Smith as Richard’s mother.
       The play grows with every reading, this film with every viewing. It’s so much better than the Olivier version (though it too had its moments).

7 ½ * of 10

Read more in my book Shakespeare Calling – the book

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