Richard III Reviews
This original "Game of Thrones" adapted Shakespeare's play to the screen for the first time with director Laurence Olivier relishing the title role. Richard's conniving concoctions are a pleasure to see play out as characters are dispatched in diverse yet artful manners. John McCorry worked overtime in ornamenting the cast, arranged like flowers in this Technicolor framing. RICHARD III hits many peaks during its occasionally dense and admittedly dated run.
Filmed as a spectacle and with a very ambitious scope which accentuates during the final act that takes place at the battle scene of Bosworth Fields, excellently acted by the entire ensemble cast, including the youngest side, with all of the most relevant plot's intricacies almost perfectly summarized into celluloid, and with a shockingly accurate performance by Olivier himself, Richard III consolidates his position as one of the most important literature fans in the film world, which theatrical staging matches its grandeur with hard-to-beat excellence.
Note that this is not your typical Hollywood production both in terms of pacing and delivery. This almost scoreless project should resonate more strongly than it does today. The fusion of film and literature rarely reaches such beloved cohesion...
Richard III was a film I intended to have me change my thoughts about Shakespeare and learn from the most acclaimed Shakespearian actor of all time what a compelling story he intended to tell. I fell asleep after trying to keep up for an hour or so.
I'm not the most valid source for critiquing Richard III as I grew up finding Shakespeare's stories to be more overused than Kim Kardashian's vagina, but I can tell you it's nothing special to expect save from the same Shakespeare story told enough times before in his work.
The problems are plentiful. The first is that the script uses Elizabethan dialogue so flawlessly that its essentially a foreign language film which is not easy to comprehend or keep up with without subtitles. Yet it shouldn't be necessary to have to read them, and Richard III just conveys how I find Elizabethan language to be so idiotic and tedious. Richard III makes me question how Shakespeare can be deemed a talented writer by anybody whatsoever, and the reason Richard III failed at box office is abundantly clear.
Next in line is the film's style. Richard III never succeeds at transcending the stage setting it was written for in its film adaptation, as it is set and filmed predominantly in sets full of cardboard props with single view cinematography which prevents it from seeming like anything more than a play that's lazily constructed and put in front of a camera. This essentially makes it feel like Richard III is just a stage production that was pre-filmed and it lacks the real atmosphere of being a movie experience until its final scenes depicting the battle. This shows how Richard III is just a film lacking in entertainment and is a bland film with minimal energy and a rough audio quality which contributes to the difficulty of comprehending the language. Richard III makes less sense in its heavy Elizabethan language than if it were done in nadsat speak, and that would be more entertaining to sit through
The one really key positive thing that came from Richard III was that Laurence Olivier gave a magnificent performance. Truly a talented mastermind of Shakespearian theatre, Laurence Olivier takes the starring role of Richard III in a flawlessly confident manner which results in him becoming nothing less than an embodiment of the titular character, strongly articulating his words and his physicality as to convey what is going on in Richard III's mind. He's the one character who is relatively easy to follow after and understand, and Laurence Olivier is the man to thank for that.
Also, the musical score was strong as it strengthened the dynamics so that the audience can understand what is the overall feel of the scene, even if the atmosphere is lacking. The music was greatly composed and does strengthen Richard III.
But it still never becomes anything more than a one-dimensional stage production lacking in enough qualities to deem it a film, and apart from Laurence Olivier's performance there are now qualities to it which would encourage Shakespearian cinema.
Despite all of it's great ambitions, it's not a very cinematic movie. A lot of the characters, with the exception of Richard the III, feel irrelevant, and I found myself struggling to keep up with certain characters. As a result, I found that a bit self-indulgent, but I guess that was ok. This is after all, called Richard III.
It's ok, a bit boring at times, but it has a lot of unrealized potential. I'll see other Laurence Olivier Shakespeare movies, but if you're looking for a good Shakespeare movie, despite its length, I'd recommend Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet.