- 1 hr 44 min
Centuries before the term "serial killer" was invented, Shakespeare created a particularly bloodthirsty and memorable one. Richard III is ambitious and removes quite a few obstacles in his way to the throne of England by murdering them. This movie production is so visually vivid that Shakespeare's language is easy to understand. (The screenplay cuts about half the lines from the original play.) Uniforms, weapons, palaces, vast halls and cars all contribute to building up a very believable 1930s British period world, with definite Third Reich overtones. For example, Richard III's logo (on flags and banners), a tusky boar's head, is red and black and looks a lot like Nazi swastikas. Within beautiful Art Deco architectural sets (much of the filming was done in Central London landmarks including Westminster and the University of London) the bloody family drama unfolds. Sir Ian MacKellen plays Richard III, the hunchbacked, half-crippled freak with demented relish. Watch for how MacKellen uses Richard III's withered arm to great effect, for example, in lighting a cigarette and doing lots of other things with one hand. After Richard's future wife (whose husband Richard had killed) spits in his face, MacKellen does a nifty job of pulling off his glove with his teeth while he whips out a hanky to wipe off the spit. In the end, Richard III wins the throne, after much dramatic treachery. But the atmosphere at court is poisonous. No one can stand Richard III. Before the climactic Battle of Bosworth Field, allies he depended on desert him. In this movie, the battle is staged with realistic tanks, planes, trains and soldiers in 1930s British uniforms, with plenty of explosive special effects excitement. MacKellen's Richard shouts his famous line, as the battle goes against him, "A horse! My kingdom for a horse," when his 1930s jeep gets stuck in the mud. He's pursued to his death through a vast flaming industrial jungle. Also starring Annette Bening and Robert Downey Jr.