Shakespeare's tragedy of the hump-backed Duke of Gloucester, who rises to the throne of England by chicanery, treachery, and brilliance, only to find that his own methods have prepared the groundwork for his downfall.Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Far from being a representation of a typical stage production of the play when the film was made, star Frederick Warde related in his autobiography that "I found the action of the camera necessitated entirely different methods of acting from the stage. Spontaneity must be replaced by deliberation and concentrated expression take the place of words. I had much to learn and considerable to unlearn but the director and photographer were very considerate, although my ignorance of the necessities of the camera must have tried their patience almost to the limit." See more »
Watching Shakespeare without dialog isn't as challenging as you might think. Indeed, this 1912 film manages to condense the play neatly and still retains much of the power of the piece without hearing - or even reading - the words. Much of the success of "Richard III" is due to the vivid characterization by Frederick Warde, but his costars are excellent too. The direction is basic, of course, and every so often director-star James Keane wastes precious time (what's up with that long semi-tracking shot of the ship?), but generally his work is more than adequate. Comparing Keane's work here to the pioneering 1911 Italian feature "L'Inferno", it's clear that the American did have knowledge of what was going on elsewhere, even if he (of course) fell far short of what D.W. Griffith was already doing. Overall, "Richard III" will be of considerable interest to silent-film fans as well as stage performers interested in viewing the work of 19th century master Warde. Otherwise, I doubt this movie will thrill many other viewers. But I could be wrong; check it out for yourself.
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