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Richard II (1978)

King Richard the Second (original title)
The incompetent Richard II is deposed by Henry Bolingbroke and undergoes a crisis of identity once he is no longer king.

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Cast

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David Swift ...
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Richard Owens ...
Janet Maw ...
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The incompetent Richard II is deposed by Henry Bolingbroke and undergoes a crisis of identity once he is no longer king.

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Release Date:

28 March 1979 (USA)  »

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Richard II  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

An interpretative move by David Giles which was especially well received by critics was his division of Richard's lengthy prison cell soliloquy up into a number of sections, which fade from one to another, suggesting a passage of time, and an ongoing slowly developing thought process. See more »

Quotes

Richard II: Forget, forgive, conclude and be agreed.
See more »

Connections

Version of Richard II (1982) See more »

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User Reviews

 
a superior version of a neglected history play
25 July 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

BBC Shakespeare's history cycle ran right the way from this play, 'Richard II', through to 'Richard III', by way of Henries IV, V, and VI.

A neglected play, entirely in verse, and often thought superficial and unlikely to stand up to study (rarely taught in schools, for example), 'Richard II' is nevertheless one of Shakespeare's most engrossing and beautiful plays. It has passages of text that have gone down into theatre legend, not least John O'Gaunt's 'Methinks I am a prophet new inspired'.

In casting this production surpassed itself. Derek Jacobi brings Richard a soul and a spirit, whether he is playing him as vain and selfish in the early scenes, or broken and discouraged post-deposition. It is a tricky role which he performs extremely well. Opposing him as the future Henry IV is Jon Finch, who also left us a memorable film Macbeth a few years earlier, an actor of considerable range who seems to have worked little in recent years. Here he is a perfect foil to the spoilt Richard.

In support, John Gielgud gives a mighty performance as Gaunt, while the likes of Charles Gray, Wendy Hiller, and Mary Morris, bring life to other, more minor roles. The sets are not expensive or, backdrops at least, that convincing, but the play and text is strong enough for that not to matter.

A highly recommended version of a play rarely filmed or performed, and a good scene setter for the rest of the History Plays.


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