Richard III (1995 film)
|Directed by||Richard Loncraine|
|Produced by||Stephen Bayly
Lisa Katselas Paré
|Written by||William Shakespeare (play)
Robert Downey Jr.
Kristin Scott Thomas
|Music by||Trevor Jones|
|Edited by||Paul Green|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
Richard III is a 1995 drama film adapted from William Shakespeare's play of the same name, starring Ian McKellen, Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Robert Downey Jr., Nigel Hawthorne, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, John Wood, and Dominic West.
The film relocates the play's events to a fictionalized fascist version of Britain in the 1930s.
The film's concept was based on a stage production directed by Richard Eyre for the Royal National Theatre, which also starred McKellen. The production was adapted for the screen by McKellen and directed by Richard Loncraine.
The film is notable for its unconventional use of famous British landmarks, often using special effects to move them to new locations. The transformed landmarks used include the following:
- St Pancras railway station is relocated to Westminster and becomes King Edward's seat of government.
- Battersea Power Station is relocated to the coast of Kent and is portrayed as a bombed-out military base.
- Bankside Power Station, rather than the actual Tower of London, is the prison where Clarence is imprisoned. At the time of filming, the station was partially derelict, long before its current partial use as Tate Modern.
- Brighton Pavilion is relocated to a coastal clifftop as King Edward's country retreat.
- Senate House of the University of London is Richard's seat of government and is used for interior and exterior scenes. The famous art deco facade and clock of Shell Mex House is also featured in exterior shots.
The visually rich production features various symbols, uniforms, weapons, and vehicles that draw openly from the aesthetic of the Third Reich as depicted in Nazi propaganda (especially Triumph of the Will) and war films. At the same time, obvious care is put into diluting and mixing the Nazi references with recognizable British and American uniform styles, props, and visual motifs (also familiar to the average cinemagoer). The resulting military uniforms, for instance, range from completely Allied in cases of positive characters to almost completely SS in the case of Richard's entourage. Another example of this balanced approach to production design is the choice of tanks for battle scenes between Richmond's and Richard's armies: both use Soviet tanks (T-55s and T-34s respectively), mixed with German, American, and British World War II-era vehicles. To convey the out-of-place nature of the common-born Queen Elizabeth, she is reconfigured as an American socialite similar to Wallis Simpson, and she and her brother are treated with marked disapproval by members of the Court.
Perhaps the play's most famous line—"A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"—was recontextualized by the more recent setting; during the climactic battle, Richard's jeep becomes stuck, hung up on a pile of debris, and his lament is cast as a plea for a mode of transport with legs rather than wheels.
In a surprising ending, Richard refuses to be captured and leaps down to his death with the "wrong" closing line: "Let us to't pell-mell; if not to heaven, then hand-in-hand to hell". As Richard falls, the camera focuses on Henry, who is smiling at the camera just as Richard had throughout the film and thereby implying that he will be just as bad a king as Richard. Richard falls, grinning triumphantly, into the inferno and is followed by the eerily upbeat tune "I'm Sitting On The Top Of The World" (Ray Henderson, Joe Young and Sam Lewis) in the classic version sung by Al Jolson.
The film enlarges the role of the Duchess of York considerably by combining her character with that of Queen Margaret, as compared with Laurence Olivier's 1955 film version of the play, in which the Duchess hardly appeared at all and Queen Margaret was completely eliminated. The roles of Rivers, Grey, Vaughan, and Dorset are combined into Rivers. The death scenes are shown rather than implied as in the play, and changed to suit the time (Hastings is hanged rather than beheaded) and historical accuracy (Clarence dies by having his throat cut in a bathtub, rather than being drowned in a wine barrel). Lord Rivers—who usually dies offstage (or, in the case of Olivier's film, offscreen)—is impaled by the device of a sharp spike spurting up from the bottom of his mattress while he lies in bed during sex with a woman in a hotel room. Each character's pre-death monologue is also removed, except that of Clarence and Buckingham.
McKellen himself stated on his website:
- When you put this amazing old story in a believable modern setting, it will hopefully raise the hair on the back of your neck, and you won't be able to dismiss it as 'just a movie' or, indeed, as 'just old-fashioned Shakespeare.
The film is based on Shakespeare's play of the same name, written in approximately 1592. Unlike the 1955 film starring and directed by Laurence Olivier, this production combines the roles of the Duchess of York and Queen Margaret, widow of Henry VI.
- Ian McKellen as Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III
- Annette Bening as Queen Elizabeth
- Jim Broadbent as Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham
- Robert Downey, Jr. as Rivers
- Kristin Scott Thomas as Lady Anne Neville
- Maggie Smith as The Duchess of York
- John Wood as King Edward IV
- Nigel Hawthorne as George, Duke of Clarence
- Adrian Dunbar as Sir James Tyrrell
- Edward Hardwicke as Lord Stanley
- Tim McInnerny as Sir William Catesby
- Jim Carter as Lord Hastings
- Dominic West as Henry, Earl of Richmond
- Trés Hanley as Lord Rivers' Mistress
- Roger Hammond as Archbishop Thomas
- Donald Sumpter as Robert Brackenbury
- Bill Paterson as Richard Ratcliffe
- Kate Steavenson-Payne as Princess Elizabeth
- Christopher Bowen as the Prince of Wales
- Matthew Groom as Richard of York
- Marco Williamson as the Edward, Prince of Wales, later King Edward V
- Edward Jewesbury as King Henry VI
- Stacey Kent - performer at the celebratory ball of 1930s-style swing song, an original composition by Trevor Jones
- Michael Elphick - the second murderer with Sir James Tyyrell who murder George, Duke of Clarence in a bath
- Best British Film
- Best Actor - Ian McKellen
- Adapted Screenplay
- Best Costumes (won)
- Best Production Design (won)
- Berlin Film Festival
Richard III received universal acclaim from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 96% "Certified Fresh" rating, with an average score of 8.1/10. Empire magazine gave the film 4/5 stars, referring to it as "fascinating" and "cerebral". Jeffrey Lyons stated that the film was "mesmerizing", while Richard Corliss in Time referred to the film as "cinematic". Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that "the picture never stops coming at you". Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars (out of four) and included the film among his Great Movies list.
The soundtrack to Richard III was released on February 27, 1996.
|1.||"The Invasion"||Trevor Jones||1:37|
|2.||"Come Live With Me"||Stacey Kent||5:40|
|3.||"Now Is the Winter of Our Discontent"||Trevor Jones||1:01|
|5.||"Bid Me Farewell/I'll Have Her"||Trevor Jones||1:21|
|6.||"Clarence's Dream"||Trevor Jones||3:04|
|8.||"Clarence's Murder"||Trevor Jones||2:05|
|9.||"The Tower"||Trevor Jones||2:06|
|10.||"The Blessing"||Trevor Jones||0:27|
|12.||"Toe Tappers"||Trevor Jones||2:14|
|13.||"Let Sorrow Haunt Your Bed"||Trevor Jones||1:29|
|14.||"The Reach of Hell Long Live the King"||Trevor Jones||1:15|
|15.||"Good Angels Guard You"||Trevor Jones||0:28|
|16.||"Coronation Haze"||Trevor Jones||1:11|
|17.||"Prelude from Te Deum"||Trevor Jones||1:41|
|18.||"The Golden Dew of Sleep"||Trevor Jones||0:30|
|19.||"My Regret"||Trevor Jones||2:46|
|20.||"Pity Dwells Not This Eye"||Trevor Jones||0:25|
|22.||"My Most Grievous Curse"||Trevor Jones||0:49|
|23.||"The Duchess Departs"||Trevor Jones||0:52|
|24.||"The Devil's Temptation"||Trevor Jones||0:54|
|26.||"Defend Me Still"||Trevor Jones||2:47|
|27.||"I Did But Dream"||Trevor Jones||0:45|
|28.||"Elizabeth and Richmond"||Trevor Jones||1:37|
|29.||"My Kingdom for a Horse"||Trevor Jones||0:39|
|31.||"I'm Sitting on Top of the World"||Al Jolson||1:49|
|32.||"Come Live With Me"||Stacey Kent||5:40|
- "Richard III: Photographs". mckellen.com. 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
- Stern, Keith (1995). "Richard III: Notes". Mckellen.com. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
- "The 68th Academy Awards (1996) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
- "Berlinale: 1996 Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
- "Richard III". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
- Errigo, Angie. "Empire's Richard III Movie Review". Empireonline.com. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
- Stern, Keith (1995). "Richard III: Reviews". Mckellen.com. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
- Ebert, Roger (7 October 2009). "Richard III Movie Review & Film Summary (1996)". rogerebert.com. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
- "Richard III Soundtrack". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
- McKellen's website about the film including an annotated copy of the screenplay.
- Richard III at the Internet Movie Database
- Richard III at AllMovie
- Interactive video interview with McKellen on Shakespeare, Richard III and Richard's opening speech. Includes McKellen introducing a clip from his film.