What is Shakespeare? Why are his works so reknowned, and why is it so
difficult to successfully deliver one of his plays to an American audience?
These are a few of the questions Al Pacino poses and attempts to answer
in his brilliant documentary, Looking for Richard. He takes as his subject,
Richard III, Shakespeare's most performed, but least understood play.
Looking for Richard not only presents portions of the play, but also
delves into its meaning, as well as the issues involved in staging a
production of Richard III to an American audience largely ignorant of
the historical background necessary to fully comprehend the play. Pacino
wears three hats here, as director not only of this film, but of the
production of Richard III within, as actor struggling to understand
the character and the play, and as Richard III himself. He has gathered
together a wonderful group of actors for the play (including Alec Baldwin,
Kevin Spacey, Winona Ryder, Estelle Parsons and Aidan Quinn), as well
as countless interviews with Shakespearean actors and scholars (including
Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Kline, John Gielgud and Vanessa Redgrave). These
are all spliced and intercut together with the performance of the play,
creating the most lively and entertaining documentary in a long while.
He manages not only to capture the essence of the play, but spells out
the historical perspective, and creates a Shakespeare film that can truly
be consumed by the masses...if only they weren't too afraid of Shakespeare
to approach the film.
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