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I was very strongly recommended to watch Ian McKellen's Richard III after I had read the script and listened to the Arkangel version. Well, wwhyte, nmg and liberaliser, you were right. It is an extraordinary tour de force, set in a grazingly Fascist Britain of the 1930s (so echoed in more recent books by Christopher Priest and papersky). McKellen himself is superb; the other actors include Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Robert Downey Jr, Nigel Hawthorne, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, Adrian Dunbar and Tim McInnerny, all excellent. McKellen explains on his own website how and why he judiciously pruned characters and plot to turn it into his own film version. Standout scenes include Richard's nightmares before the final battle; Nigel Hawthorne's melancholy reflections as the doomed Clarence; the exchange where Buckingham (Jim Broadbent) persuades the pseudo-reluctant Richard to take the crown. A really good film.

Oddly enough over the last few days I had also been listening to a completely different presentation of the story of Richard III, the Big Finish audio play The Kingmaker, written by Nev Fountain of the TV comedy show Dead Ringers. This brings the Fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davison, back to the 1480s to find out what really happened to the Princes in the Tower, after a heated drunken argument with William Shakespeare. As you would expect from a production with that author and numerous comedians in the cast, it is utterly hilarious, totally subverting the expectations of the listener - are the Princes really robots? Who is the bearded time-traveller advising Richard of Gloucester? What of the true identity of the barmaids? Some might possibly think it just a bit silly, but I really enjoyed it.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
natural20
Nov. 9th, 2008 07:53 pm (UTC)
I loved it when I saw it (when it first came out) and I think I may have get it again sometime soon. Definitely worth watching and rewatching.
swisstone
Nov. 9th, 2008 08:09 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen McKellen's Richard III for ages. I really must watch it again soon, if only to remind myself that there was a time when he bothered to act.
drasecretcampus
Nov. 9th, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC)
Have you seen Pacino's Looking for Richard? And Sher's The Year of the King was a formative piece of reading for me before I fell out of love with theatre.

liberaliser
Nov. 9th, 2008 10:00 pm (UTC)
Aaand welcome to the fan club. When you get to Othello, I strongly recommend tracking down the BBC production where he plays a very scary Iago to Willard White's Othello. The film with Laurence Fishburne is shinier, and still very good, but much less memorable.
ehuscribbles
Nov. 10th, 2008 05:51 am (UTC)
And I recommend Laughton as Henry VIII ~m
sammywol
Nov. 10th, 2008 09:31 am (UTC)
Kingmaker sounds glorious! Must track it down. Thanks for the tip.

I remember liking McKellan's Richard very much - although I could not repress a grin at the 'A Horse!' line with the jeep.
liberaliser
Nov. 10th, 2008 12:23 pm (UTC)
I loved the "Longsword" shotgun in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet. Hey, why not? I remember spending a lot of rehearsal time hunting for cheap laughs in Shakespeare.
sammywol
Nov. 10th, 2008 12:45 pm (UTC)
I was once in a - admittedly for charity - performance of As You Like It where Charles and Orlando 'wrestled' using a gunfight with uzis. Ow!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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