7.4/10
13,654
92 user 62 critic

Richard III (1995)

The classic Shakespearean play about the murderously scheming 15th-century king is reimagined in an alternative setting of 1930s England as clouds of fascism gather.

Director:

Richard Loncraine

Writers:

Ian McKellen (screenplay), Richard Loncraine (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Bowen ... Prince Edward of Lancaster
Edward Jewesbury ... King Henry VI
Ian McKellen ... Richard III - Duke of Gloucester
Bill Paterson ... Ratcliffe
Annette Bening ... Queen Elizabeth
Matthew Groom Matthew Groom ... Young Prince Richard of York
John Wood ... King Edward IV
Nigel Hawthorne ... Duke of Clarence
Maggie Smith ... Duchess of York
Kate Steavenson-Payne ... Princess Elizabeth of York
Robert Downey Jr. ... Lord Rivers
Tres Hanley ... Air Hostess
Tim McInnerny ... Catesby
Stacey Kent Stacey Kent ... Ballroom Singer
Jim Carter ... Lord William Hastings
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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 III (Sir Ian McKellen), 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

Plot Keywords:

fascist | dog | tank | battle | widow | See All (70) »

Taglines:

...I am determined to prove a villain, and hate the idle pleasures of these days... See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sci-Fi | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sir Ian McKellen made Queen Elizabeth an American, because this way, she and her family could be seen as social climbers, from commoners to royalties. See more »

Goofs

This is not a historical drama, nor a biopic. It is an allegory which mixes and unsolved murders from the 1480s with costumes and customs from the 1930s, to make an artistic statement about the similarities between these two eras. While the movie portrays several historical figures, they are not intended to perfectly resemble their real-life counterparts, and their words and actions are never claimed to be what the real people said and did. See more »

Quotes

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

Alternate Versions

The UK (video) release has the cast credits in order of appearance. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Oprah Winfrey Show: Summer Movie Reviews (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Come Live With Me
Paraphrased from "The Passionate Shepherd to his Love,(1599)" by Christopher Marlowe
Performed by Stacey Kent and Vile Bodies
Music composed by Trevor Jones
Arranged by Colin Good
Published by EMI Music Publishing Ltd.
See more »

User Reviews

 
Justice made to Richard III
1 February 2006 | by OttoVonBSee all my reviews

"Richard III" may not have the all-encompassing understanding of uman nature seen in "Hamlet" or the grace and mastery of "The Tempest", but for my money is one of the greatest plays ever written and certainly Shakespeare's most entertaining.

It may be lacking in character development and psychology, but it more than makes up for that with a brilliant concept: have the villain as main character and make the audience his playful confident. The concept is aided further by eminently quotable lines and one great scene after the other of scheming, fiendishness and confrontations. One of the few pieces of criticism you can successfully throw at Shakespeare is that his central characters are often meek or feeble. Not so here! Tudor propaganda this might have been (it quite grotesquely disregards historical fact in a few places), this is storytelling at its finest.

Richard Loncraine's 1995 film places the story in a fictitious 30s England reminiscent of early Nazi Germany. The device serves to make the proceedings more accessible (if only marginally since the original language has thankfully been preserved). It also makes for amusing situations (Richard of York telling his monologue while taking a leak in a public restroom - "my Kingdom for a Horse!" bellowed from a paralyzed jeep) and serves as further proof of the Bard's timelessness.

Beyond the structural and technical feats - and they are quite excellent without exception, including Trevor Jones underrated dark jazzy score - lies what should be our main concern: the cast. Sir Ian McKellen as Richard is a Machiavellian wonder, blowing both Lawrence Olivier's rendition and McKellen's earlier work away. His fiendish creation is a joy to watch and root for, despite the increasing gruesomeness of his crimes. The byzantine plot demands that recognizable faces be cast in supporting roles and the characters are magnificently portrayed by eminent actors giving it their best and succeeding admirably. Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent and Kristin Scott-Thomas are expectedly great, but the truly outstanding supporting performances come as surprises: Annette Benning is all grief and fury, Adrian Dunbar is eerie yet very human as Richard's pet killer Tyrell and Nigel Hawthorne is incredibly moving as the meek Clarence. Even Robert Downey Jr. manages to hold his own against this impressive array of actors.

All in all if you can appreciate the language (that only gets better with repeated readings/viewings) and have a thirst for fine acting, it would be criminal to ignore this masterpiece.


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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 December 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Richard III See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

GBP6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$91,915, 1 January 1996

Gross USA:

$2,684,904

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,748,518
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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