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December 14, 2011

Looking for Richard (1996)


Under most circumstances, I wouldn't embed a relatively recent film in its entirety. But as Looking for Richard does not appear to be available on DVD I am making an exception on educational grounds.

It's important to think with and my favourite Shakespeare besides. Al Pacino gets to the heart of Richard III, argues we shouldn't be intimidated by the accents, and demonstrates Shakespeare's enduring insight into our shared, often troubled, human condition.

Which I realize is a bit much to say but... trust me. This is the best introduction I know of for people who weren't raised with Shakespeare or, worse, had it ruined for them by high school English class.

Looking for Richard is a 1996 documentary film and the first film directed by Al Pacino. It is both a performance of selected scenes of William Shakespeare's Richard III and a broader examination of Shakespeare's continuing role and relevance in popular culture.

Not just popular culture, not just politics neither. If you don't know the play, by about half way through Pacino's take it will be obvious Ricard III is not just Tudor propaganda, it's naked horror.

Looking for Richard from samarkkanda on Vimeo.

We could use a Tudor claimant about now to sort things out good and hard, btw. Noblesse oblige suggests some degree of oblige to the people of England. We haven't seen much of that since 1968.

Southern accent: Perform Shakespeare's plays in Shakespeare's dialect.

By opening night, they will have rehearsed using phonetic scripts for two months and, hopefully, will render the play just as its author intended. They say their accents are somewhere between Australian, Cornish, Irish and Scottish, with a dash of Yorkshire - yet bizarrely, completely intelligible if you happen to come from North Carolina.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at December 14, 2011 07:48 AM