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Richard III [DVD] [1996]

4.1 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Ian McKellen, Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Robert Downey Jr., Nigel Hawthorne
  • Directors: Richard Loncraine
  • Writers: Ian McKellen, Richard Loncraine, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Ian McKellen, David Lascelles, Ellen Dinerman Little, Joe Simon
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Pathe
  • DVD Release Date: 8 May 2000
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004SC7U
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,411 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Ian McKellen stars in the title role of this adaptation of Shakespeare's play, based in an alternative, fascist England. After a bloody civil war in 1930s England, between the House of Lancaster and the House of York, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, lays his claim to the English throne amid the turmoil. The deformed monarch-apparent uses all of his sinister guile to plot and murder his way to power, each bloody action taking its toll on his family and friends until he has to stand and fight one last battle. The cast also includes Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Robert Downey Jr, Maggie Smith and Kristin Scott Thomas.

From Amazon.co.uk

This film adaptation of a critically acclaimed stage production of Shakespeare's historical drama stars Ian McKellen in the title role. The setting is a comic-book vision of 1930s London: part art deco, part Third Reich, part industrial-age rust and rot. The play's force is turned into a synthetic high by art directors and storyboard sketchers, all of whom have a field day condensing the material into disposable pop imagery. Richard III is a fun film, more than anything, so infatuated with its own monstrous stitchery that even the most awkward casting (Annette Bening and Robert Downey Jr) seems a part of the ridiculous design. McKellen is the best thing about the movie, his mesmerising portrayal of freakish despotism and poisoned desire a thing to behold. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
My initial review of this film was a touch mis-informed; you *can* get English language versions of this sans-subtitles on DVD but they aren't plentiful or cheap, and the film isn't in the shops. I've no idea why.

Because this is great Shakespeare on film - it's on the same level as Brannagh's Henry V, Feinnes' Coriolanus, Olivier's Hamlet - it should not only be on the shelves of HMV, it should be on school curricula. If anyone knows of any way to bring pressure to bear on the right person to get this situation changed, please do let me know. United Artists don't even pretend to be open to dialogue.

To refer to the cast as 'stellar' is almost to devalue the word - not just Ian McKellen (Maybe the film's being witheld because it would be wrong to let stupid people see the actor that went on to play Gandalf here playing a villain) - Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Tim McInerny, Jim Carter, Bill Patterson, Adrian Dunbar, Michael Elphick - and Annette Bening and Robert Downey jnr - but look at the roll call on IMDB; the only adult speaking part not to be played by a star is 'Subaltern' played by David Antrobus.

Admittedly the script is pared down to the basics, but at least most of the words are Shakespeare, though the addition of 'Prime Minister' will annoy some purists, as will the interpolation of a line from Henry VI 3, but it is worth bearing in mind that Richard III is a very long play and if you want to find out how long just take a look at The BBC production starring Ron Cook, because that's the uncut text.
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Format: DVD
A gala ball: The York family celebrate their reascent to power; the War of Roses (named for the feuding houses' heraldic badges: Lancaster's red and York's white rose) is almost over. Actually, the year is 1471, but for present purposes, we're in the 1930s. A singer delivers a swinging "Come live with me and be my love." Richard of Gloucester (Sir Ian McKellen), the reinstated sickly King Edward IV's (John Wood's) youngest brother, moves through the crowd; observing, watching his second brother George, Duke of Clarence (Nigel Hawthorne) being quietly led off by Tower warden Brackenbury (Donald Sumpter) and his subalterns. With Clarence gone, Richard seizes the microphone, its discordant screech cutting through the singer's applause, and he, who himself made this night possible by killing King Henry VI of Lancaster and his son at Tewkesbury, begins a victory speech: "Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York" (cut to Edward, who regally acknowledges the tribute). But when Richard mentions "grim-visaged war," who "smooth'd his wrinkled front," the camera closes in on his mouth, turning it into a grimace reminiscent of the legend known to any spectator in Shakespeare's Globe Theatre: that he wasn't just born "with his feet first" but also "with teeth in his mouth;" hence, not only crippled (though whether also hunchbacked is uncertain) but cursed from birth, his physical deformity merely outwardly representing his inner evil.
Then, mid-sentence, the image cuts again.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A great cast. A truly great play.Ian McKellen, Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Nigel Hawthorne, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith and Robert Downey Jr.I agree that there ought to be another release of this fine production as it was produced in English after all.As that doesn't exist at present this is the one to watch!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is, of course, one of the most innovative interpretations of Richard III and I can't add anything to the other reviews about the performance.

BUT!!!!! this is a German DVD and it does play in English, only at the expense of having German subtitles which can't be switched off. I find this very distracting. Currently, there doesn't seem to be any other recording available, so I have to put up with it.
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Format: DVD
Producing Shakespeare in a fascist setting is not exactly original, but it really works with this film as it is merely a suitable backdrop to a very dark tale of one man's scheming, opportunism & driving ambition. The (original) script is actually lightened by the 1930s feel, eg the authentic-sounding rendition of a sonnet set to 30s dance music in the ballroom scene is terrific, and McKellan's twinkle-eye cheeky asides when he tells us what dastardly deed he is planning next. The rest of the cast is almost universally excellent, with performances ranging from sophisticated Coward-style interplay to occasional flashes of extreme violence. All in all a very gripping production, which may not please traditionalists, but will more than delight anyone with a real interest in theatre and a good story well told.
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