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Shakespeare’s Richard III, is a play that has betrayal, murder, power struggles, a little wickedness and, finally, evil; not triumphing at the end.
Although there is a movie based upon the play, the play will be best suited performed in a theater. First of all, the movie was not true to the original text of the play, something that has always been preserved in theater when the play was performed in 1930’s.
Another thing that sets RICHARD III in theater apart from the movie version of the play is the fast pace accumulated throughout the play. However, in the play version performed in the late 90’s, the play was cut down to hundred minutes and to tone it down, many characters were cut and plot devices merged to make the play simple and increase the clarification of the play. However, the charm of evil, the relationship between ruler and state, the command of language, the rise of the Tudor dynasty in England, all are well described in it.
Another good thing about the play was how Richard, an ever lying character in the play, always told the audience, the truth. This made the audience an accomplice in his evil plans and made them feel connected with the play. This was not portrayed in the movie, although the slight hint of it is visible when Richard looks directly at the camera.
The music by William Walton is great and it well-matches the rapidly changing thoughtful play to frantic moods of the characters. It goes well with the changing scenes and moods during the whole film. Fairly high standards are kept up of these remarkable scenes through the whole film till the final battle.
Laurence Olivier’s brilliant voice and acting in the part of first Richard’s monologue that, reveals ambitious, spiteful, merciless and evil ways of the Duke of Gloucester, is simply unforgettable. One can clearly have an idea about the victor on seeing the blue-grey and brown clothing that Richmond and his soldiers had put on, matching the color of the skies and grounds. The colors themselves depict that the first of the Tudors, Henry, is the deserving king. However, the movie is slow and the camera could have taken close ups of Olivier in a few parts of his role.
Something I did not like about the movie was the fight scene. The whole movie kept building up the fight until the end and I was dying with anticipation, but when it came, it was disappointing. There was not much to see, it was rushed, and ended so suddenly that I could not help but feel disappointed.
Another side in the movie that lacked was the color of the prints was gloomy and dull in Richard III (1955) while colors are such vital expressive constituent for a movie. However, as the colors were corrected with current technology, it is now as good as it can get. There is a fine use of colors in the huge combat scene that climaxes the film. Everything is splendid – costumes, screenplay, scenery, acting and dialogues.
Shakespeare’s play is well written and the film, with William Walton’s music, and the vibrant colors, is worthy of being watched. It is one of the most glorious historical movies of all times. One should definitely suggest everyone to see it.