7.5/10
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90 user 57 critic

Richard III (1995)

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

Director:

Richard Loncraine
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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
Edward Jewesbury ... King Henry
Ian McKellen ... Richard III
Bill Paterson ... Ratcliffe
Annette Bening ... Queen Elizabeth
Matthew Groom Matthew Groom ... Young Prince
John Wood ... King Edward
Nigel Hawthorne ... Clarence
Maggie Smith ... Duchess of York
Kate Steavenson-Payne ... Princess Elizabeth
Robert Downey Jr. ... 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 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 (45) »

Taglines:

I can smile, and murder while I smile 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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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 December 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ricardo III See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,600,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sir Ian McKellen played the son of Dame Maggie Smith. He went on to work with her real son, Toby Stephens, on Goldfinger for BBC Radio. He also played Smith when he hosted Saturday Night Live (1975). See more »

Goofs

Richard III died aged 32, after reigning for 2 years. Ian McKellen was in his mid-50s during filming and no attempt is made to hide his age. However he was not the first or last middle-aged actor to play the role. See more »

Quotes

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

Alternate Versions

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


Soundtracks

Te Deum: Marche en rondeau prelude
(uncredited)
Composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier
See more »

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User Reviews

Brilliantly thought out, superbly played and totally gripping
5 June 2000 | by alfa-16See 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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