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Richard III (1995)

 -  Drama | War  -  29 December 1995 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 10,721 users  
Reviews: 81 user | 48 critic

The classic Shakespearean play about a murderously scheming king staged in an alternative fascist England setting.

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Title: Richard III (1995)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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George, Duke of Clarence
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Rivers' Mistress
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Storyline

William Shakespeare's classic play is brought into the present with the setting as Great Britian in the 1930s. Civil war has erupted with the House of Lancaster on one side, claiming the right to the British throne and hoping to bring freedom to the country. Opposing is the House of York, commanded by the infamous Richard who rules over a fascist government and hopes to install himself as a dictator monarch. Written by Anthony Hughes <husnock31@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

I can smile, and murder while I smile See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

29 December 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ricardo III  »

Box Office

Budget:

£6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

£403,233 (UK) (17 May 1996)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ian McKellen made Queen Elizabeth an American because this way, her family and herself could be seen as social-climbers, from commoners to royalties. It also suggests an alternate history where Edward VIII (a British King who reportedly admired the Nazis) was able to keep his throne while marrying the scandalous American social climber Wallis Warfield Simpson. In real life that didn't work, and those two became known as Duke of Windsor and Duchess of Windsor. See more »

Goofs

As Edward finishes his dance with Queen Elizabeth (at the beginning) and they walk off the dance floor, the young prince slips and falls. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Prince of Wales: Goodnight Father.
King Henry: Goodnight son.
Prince of Wales: Goodnight your majesty.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Shakespeare's Women & Claire Bloom (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Sitting On The Top Of The World
Performed by Al Jolson
Composed by Ray Henderson, Joe Young and Sam Lewis
Published by EMI United Partnership Ltd.
Redwood Music Corp.
Angle-Pic Music Co. Ltd.
EMI Catalog Partnership/EMI Feist Catalog Inc.
Ray Henderson Music Corp.
Cherio Corporation
(c) MCA Records Inc. Licensed courtesy of
MCA Strategic Marketing Ltd.
See more »

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User Reviews

Brilliantly thought out, superbly played and totally gripping
5 June 2000 | by (Rural Kent, UK) – See all my reviews

I'm not always comfortable with Shakespeare in modern dress, nor with Ian McKellen's apparent assumption of the mantle of Olivier and Gielgud. Neither did I think that anything could top the experience of seeing Antony Sher play the role on the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth.

So after all the unfavourable comment, I was shocked to find this version comprehensively squashing all such reservations. It's brilliantly thought out, superbly played and totally gripping from start to finish.

The updating to a non-specific inter war period is not just apposite but genuinely illuminating. The games McKellen plays with the changing techniques of warfare in the period, the rise of fascism, realpolitik and the undermining of royalty by the Wallis Simpson affair, push back the boundaries of Shakespeare on film in all directions.

For example, at the very moment you're thinking that all this mayhem is a bit much in English period costume, the helmets change, then the uniforms get darker, the red flags appear and Richard's acceptance speech turns into an underground Nuremburg Rally - a stark reminder of just how deeply the country flirted with fascism in the 30s and just how short and steep the descent can be. Stanley's troops, crucially uncommitted, stood off overlooking the real Battle of Bosworth. McKellen's Richard has control of the railway network here, but Wing Commander Stanley denies him the all-important air support in a superb piece of updated analogy. Throughout, modernity is so carefully and relevantly overlaid on the plot structure that it becomes one of the great pleasures and achievements of the piece.

Lots of surprises, not the least of which comes as the play's most famous line is perfectly re-engineered and delivered and lots of great players at the top of their form.

McKellen, Scott Thomas, Broadbent, Downey Jnr and Annette Bening are all worth the price of admission individually, but there's hardly a flaw in any of the performances.

I simply can't see what the detractors are on about at all. Really. An epic piece of work. Easily the best version on film. Easily the most thought provoking Shakespeare on film.


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