"Now is the winter of our discontent..." With these timeless words, Duke Richard - lounging on his sun deck - sets his murderous plans in motion. His goal: to eliminate the hated rival ... See full summary »
Maria Conchita Alonso
An aspiring young physician, Robert Merivel found himself in the service of King Charles II and saves the life of a spaniel dear to the King. Merivel joins the King's court and lives the ... See full summary »
Robert Downey Jr.,
Ian McKellen gives a tour-de-force performance as Shakespeare's tragic titular monarch in this special television adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company production of one the playwright's most enduring and haunting works.
A multimillionaire, whose son is gay and daughter a lesbian, leaves a will with one clause: His children will inherit his money only if at least one of them produces him a grandchild within a year of his death.
Robert Downey Sr.
Robert Downey Jr.,
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The scenes of the massive rally were digitally composed from shots of a much smaller crowd (including Ian McKellen and extras recruited via local radio) placed in different positions within the hall. See more »
When Elizabeth is summoned to talk with Richard in the train car, her coat unbuttons between shots. See more »
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.
(c) MCA Records Inc. Licensed courtesy of
MCA Strategic Marketing Ltd. See more »
Brilliantly thought out, superbly played and totally gripping
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.
55 of 62 people found this review helpful.
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