film: Loncraine: Richard III (1995)

When I first saw this I was instantly enthralled, the sounds of jazz, the colors and costumes, the explosions, the classiness exhumed from every cigarette butt. I’ve recommended the film to everyone I know. This time, however, I felt a bit offended by the extent of the slash and burn the writers made of original Shakespeare. I know it is common, but…this just felt overkill. Even small things, like the use of Tyrell as the chief murderer, rather than the director of a single set of murders, and the amount of time he spent on stage, ruthless and sadistic, working his way up the ranks–it leaves out the humanity of Clarence’s murderers, and thus steals from the audience a great scene of our anxiety, will he or will he not be murdered? His tongue is smooth, and he seems able to talk his way out of this! Or rather, he is just killed. Most strange is that Queen Margaret is removed from the film entirely–now, I find this most strange because I swear that I remember her being in it. As I read the play, I imagine the room all the characters are seated in, when Margaret comes from behind the curtains and shoots off her extensive rounds of curses. The room appeared on screen, all the characters were seated and waiting, just as in my imagination, and Margaret is nowhere to be seen. The scene in which the young Edward and his brother arrive, the film highlights Richard’s being slighted, and quite essentially weak, rather than make the quick battle of wits between child and murdering-king that, ultimately, injures the king also. This is the difference between Hollywood and Shakespeare–perhaps the reason why the two will never well mix. Well, perhaps Olivier’s version will prove more complete. I grew tired with this one, kill, kill, kill, and am sorry since I’ve so long remembered it fondly.

24 March 07.

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