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Criterion Collection: Richard III [DVD] [1955] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]


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Region 1 encoding. (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
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Product details

  • Actors: Laurence Olivier, Cedric Hardwicke, Nicholas Hannen, Ralph Richardson, John Gielgud
  • Directors: Laurence Olivier
  • Writers: Laurence Olivier, Colley Cibber, David Garrick, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Laurence Olivier, Alexander Korda
  • Format: Anamorphic, Colour, DVD-Video, Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 24 Feb 2004
  • Run Time: 159 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00014K5ZA
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 113,029 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

From Amazon.co.uk

The third and final entry in Laurence Olivier's Shakespeare triptych, Richard III is an audacious portrait of a man determined to prove himself a villain. A pure master of the political stage, Richard deploys a barrage of odious, unscrupulous traps in an attempt to exercise complete control over his rivals. As the personification of evil impudence, Olivier portrays the Duke of Gloucester with such aplomb that he even lures the audience on to his side. This is true even as Richard engineers plots to murder his brother Clarence (John Gielgud), betray his cousin Buckingham (Ralph Richardson) and seduce his niece Lady Anne (Claire Bloom). From the play's famous opening lines ("Now is the winter of our discontent"), Olivier delivers every speech with truly Machiavellian splendour. As usual, his voice is a force of nature--a full-bodied coloratura at one moment, an earthy baritone cello a few beats later. As a director, Olivier fully realises but underplays the corners of the script that most directors would hinge their dramatisation on. But he can also play it large: Olivier's superb staging of the climactic battle rivals his work on Henry V. Though Richard is finally brought down by the whispered curses of Queen Margaret, the audience exits feeling that the journey has been both entertaining and complete. Regrettably, this would be Olivier's last Shakespeare film, as a planned adaptation of Macbeth was abandoned for financial reasons. Olivier justly received an Oscar nomination for his performance; and believe it or not, this film was the inspiration for the original Blackadder! --Kevin Mulhall

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

125 of 125 people found the following review helpful By Colin Jones on 7 April 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Those of us who have been maddened by poor prints of this film can rejoice in this nicely restored edition. The picture quality is good (suitably dark Technicolor), the format is slightly wide screen (VistaVision), and the sound is clear.
Shakespeare's Richard 111 may not be historically accurate, but dramatically it is spot on! Olivier fielded a wonderful team of supporting players for this: Cedric Hardwicke, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, Claire Bloom and so on. Even the smallest roles were well played.
The film has been a personal favourite for half a century. I think it's wonderful and I'll fight any man who says it isn't.
On the bonus disc is a 1980s television production, lasting three and a half hours, in which a mock trial of Richard was staged - a jury was asked to decide whether he really had been responsible for the murder of two young princes in the tower (an incident in the play/film).
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61 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Mr. R. Mayou VINE VOICE on 28 Jan 2007
Format: DVD
Finally, it is good to see this film get the special edition DVD treatment it deserves. Top quality for a top film. I first saw this when I was 15 and struggling with Shakspeare alot. Finally I understood due to the performances in this film. This for me is Oliviers Magnum Opus. Even more so than Henry V. The greatest performance from arguably the greatest acting talent this fair isle has ever produced. The set's are a bit crude yes and look very early cinema rather than 1950's but if you've seen Shakespeare on the stage you will know that is par for the course. The point is the acting. Because when a great actor is giving a great performance, as everyone does here not just Olivier, all else is mere cosmetics. Buy it, watch it and be mesmerised by the greatest performance you are ever likely to see. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. Joyce TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Jun 2010
Format: DVD
I'm amazed that it has taken me so long to see this film. It is, of course, the stuff of all Richard 111 impersonations and while it is difficult to watch Olivier's performance without recalling its many parodies, no one could deny that it is absolutely riveting. "Hammy" it may be at times, perhaps deliberately so, but he is always spellbinding. The supporting players more than hold their own; Gielgud is a lyrical Clarence, Richardson is brilliantly understated as the manipulative Buckingham and Cedric Hardwicke is very fine as the ailing King Edward. The rest of the cast reads like a "Who's Who" of British stage and screen, including the likes of Claire Bloom, Stanley Baker, John Laurie and Patrick Troughton. Two underrated actors, Alec Clunes (father of Martin) and Lawrence Naismith are especially fine as Hastings and Stanley and there are ghoulish cameos from Michaels Gough and Ripper as the two murderers. On a personal note, years ago, I worked with the chap who played one of the princes in the tower. I was quite unprepared for the innovative nature of Olivier's direction, which is quite stunning; this is much more than a simple filming of a stage production. Walton's music is, of course, wonderful and the newly restored print is very effective. At this bargain price, the purchase of this DVD is a "must."
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By T. A. Gordon on 9 May 2007
Format: DVD
This has been on my `To-Get' list for a long long time, but I've never been happy with the offerings to date. That all changed when I picked up this gem - an excellent package and fully deserving the five stars I've awarded it. The bonus `Trial' documentary is invaluable as it's been years since I've seen that aired on TV. It's a definite must-have - so much so, that I bought a second copy for my father! Well-recommended.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Norman Day on 5 April 2007
Format: DVD
I know this version is no longer available from Amazon, but it is possible that someone might buy it from the Marketplace like myself. This is a terrible edition! Despite the description there are NO special features. The special features mentioned belong to the Criterion Edition of the film which is by far the best available. However because the aforementioned non-existent special features were mentioned I thought that this was the long awaited PAL version but I was fooled I'm afraid.

The worst aspect is the film itself though. The colours are washed out and it has obviously been copied from an nth generation cinema print (you even see the circles coming up in the corner to alert the projectionist to change the reel). The film is panned and scanned to 4:3 though it was filmed at 1:66:1, such that some of the credits and titles are lost on the left side of the screen. The soundtrack is mono and as noisy as one would expect. I did not watch enough to see how complete the cut was but I can guess that is unrestored like the first British release.

There is a new UK release which is much better than this in every way, but the best and most complete is still easily the Criterion edition.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Sep 2005
Format: DVD
Those who criticize Laurence Olivier and Alan Dent -- co-authors of the screenplay -- for taking certain liberties with Shakespeare's play should also criticize Shakespeare for taking certain liberties with the historical material on which he often relied so heavily. In this instance, Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, Vol. 6, and various Tudor Historians. In my opinion, such quibbling is a fool's errand. This much we do know about the historical Richard III. He was born in 1452 in Fotheringay Castle, Northamptonshire, the youngest son of Richard, Duke of York. He was created Duke of Gloucester by his brother, Edward IV, in 1461, accompanied him into exile (1470), and played a key role in his restoration (1471). Rewarded with part of the Neville inheritance, he exercised vice regal powers, and in 1482 re-captured Berwick-upon-Tweed from the Scots. When Edward died (1483) and was succeeded by his under-age son, Edward V, Richard acted first as protector, but within three months, he had overthrown the Woodvilles (relations of Edward IV's queen), arranged for the execution of Lord Hastings (c.1430-83), and had himself proclaimed and crowned as the rightful king. Young Edward and his brother were probably murdered in the Tower on Richard's orders, although not all historians agree. He tried to stabilize his position but failed to win broad-based support. His rival Henry Tudor (later Henry VII), confronted him in battle at Bosworth Field (August 22, 1485), when Richard died fighting bravely against heavy odds. Though ruthless, he was not the absolute monster Tudor historians portrayed him to be, nor is there proof he was a hunchback.
Cleverly, this film begins with the final scene of Henry IV, Part III, the coronation of Edward IV (Cedric Hardwicke).
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