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MPAA Rated R for violence and sexuality

Sex & Nudity

  • Besides several references in Shakespeare's language to sexual activity (the lustful activities of characters are often mentioned in criticizing them), there is a scene in a hotel of a man and woman, partly undressed, engaged in vigorous foreplay, and later a scene of a man and woman (apparently naked) after their wedding night. Both scenes are relatively brief. A naked man is briefly glimpsed in the Tower being escorted to or from the room where prisoners bathe.

Violence & Gore

  • Like the play on which it is based, this is a violent movie about political intrigue and a rise to power in which no compromises are made, and many characters are murdered. However, there is relatively little actual blood and gore, though much is implied. In the very first scene, before the main titles, two characters are shot as a military position is attacked by a tank driven through its walls (several unnamed characters also apparently die here). Early on, there is a hospital/morgue scene where several people, apparent victims of the recent civil war, are seen bandaged and bleeding; the morgue tables are mostly occupied by bodies. A character is assassinated by someone hidden under a hotel room bed who drives a sword up through him. Another has his throat cut then is drowned in a prison bath. Another is hanged. A child is smothered with a scarf, with the implication that his brother dies the same way. One of the principal characters is garrotted near the end after being beaten. The film ends with a big battle scene, with brief glimpses of several killed or wounded soldiers, including at least one on fire.


  • What profanity there is derives from Shakespeare's language ("God's wounds!") but the expressions and actions of the characters do suggest they are swearing.

Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking

  • As in movies from the era when this film is set (a sort of alternate-world 1930s), adult characters virtually all smoke and drink. In many scenes drinks are offered and consumed, sometimes but not always with dinner. Many of the principal characters smoke heavily. Unhappy in her marriage, Richard's wife Anne abuses alcohol, pills, and injectable drugs. A male character drinks from a flask at a meeting where no one else consumes liquor. Except for these two instances, the drinking and smoking are simply presented as part of the atmosphere of the time-setting (as in Casablanca, for example).

Frightening & Intense Scenes

  • The assassinations, and Richard's gleeful reactions to them, are intense, but are handled briefly. A character has a nightmare in which Richard's face distorts into that of an enraged, boarlike creature. A small child is murdered while he sleeps, and another, even smaller child is held hostage and his father is threatened that the child will die if he turns traitor.

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