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Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And seem a saint, when most I play the devil, 8 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Richard III (Special Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
One of the greatest movies of the 1950s and in fact of all time, Laurence Olivier took Shakespeare's historic classic and turned it into a stunning masterpiece.
As for those who criticize the movie for it's slight departures from the written play, they obviously do not understand the versatility inherent in Shakespeare which allows for rich adaptation.
The movie begins with the last scene of Henry VI, with a fawning Richard, Earl of Gloucester (Laurence Olivier) ingratiating himself with the new King Edward IV (Cedric Hardwicke).
It is in the next scene where we view Richard's famous soliloquy: "Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of York, And all the clouds that glower'd upon our house in the deep bosom of the ocean buried".
Olivier is both frightening in his superb theatrical portrayal of the total evil of Richard, and blends Richard's wickedness with such wit that his plotting becomes a delight to watch.

His speeches to the audience about his own wickedness born of the resentments from his deformity, and the focus of the camera on his clawed hand are memorable. Olivier's face was made up for this movie and his nose cosmetically lengthened like a witches. His hands too are hooked and fingers deformed.

What stands out are the scene where he tries to woo the grieving Queen Anne (Claire Bloom) by the coffin of her husband, and she unleashes her contempt. Later after being forced to be Richard's bride we can see Anne's sadness that she knows she will die at Richard's hands. Richard's rage at a childish remark by one of the child-princes, his nephews, referring to Richard's shoulder (his frightening reaction accompanied by the child look of pure terror) where we know that the fate of the young princes has now been sealed. And who can forget the beautiful performances by Paul Huson and Andy Shine as the handsome little princes, so clearly born to one day be leaders (dying tragically at the hand of a tyrant reminding one of the later cruel murder by the Jacobins of the ten year old Louis XVII of France and by the Bolsheviks of the children of Tsar Nicholas II).
Richard III's quips about his own villainy:
"Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass; that I may see my shadow as I pass"
and "But then I sigh, and, with a piece of scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends, stol'n out of holy writ;
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil".
Many of his speeches take place in a stately castle, often in front of large statuesque wooden doors.
The banner of Gloucester's Boar give background to the comments by The Lord Hastings that "The cat, the rat, and Lovell the dog / Rule all England under the hog".
And then there are the chilling visits on the night before the Battle of Bosworth of a few Richard's victims: The young princes, the Duke Of Clarence, King Edward and Queen Anne.
The last battle sequence pits the forces of the Duke of Richmond's dragon against Richard's boar, and the final scene of Richard's killing by Richmond's forces, where Richard writhes like a rattlesnake before dying.

A splendid and sterling masterpiece, full of majesty and colour.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Dec 2012 21:54:07 GMT
Paly says:
I have loved this film since seeing it as a young girl; I am now 60. I have always longed to own it and now I can. Your review gave me 'goosebumps'. I thank you!

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Dec 2012 08:15:15 GMT
Last edited by the author on 5 Jan 2013 19:21:30 GMT
Gary Selikow says:
Seeing this movie always gives me goosebumps...this movie is timeless magic, Jeannie. I saw it first when I was seven and the first time it scared me.
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