Watch Richard III
- 2 hr 41 min
In the 1955 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play Richard III, Laurence Olivier stars as the titular character, a conniving and power-hungry ruler who will stop at nothing to gain and maintain his position on the English throne. The film begins with a prologue that sets the stage for the historical context of the story. It is the late 15th century, and the kingdom is in a state of chaos following the end of the War of the Roses. Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, is determined to become king and will use his cunning and ruthlessness to eliminate anyone who stands in his way. Throughout the film, Richard uses his powers of manipulation and deception to climb the ranks of the royal court and eventually seize the crown. He orchestrates the deaths of his brother Clarence, his sister-in-law Queen Anne, and several other key figures in the court. He also enlists the help of his right-hand man, the Duke of Buckingham, to carry out some of his schemes. As Richard consolidates his power, he becomes increasingly paranoid and isolated. He suspects that members of his own court are plotting against him and begins to lash out violently in response. This ultimately leads to his downfall as he is betrayed by Buckingham and defeated in battle by the future King Henry VII. Throughout the film, Olivier delivers a mesmerizing performance as Richard, capturing both his ruthlessness and his vulnerability. He also made the bold choice to portray the character with a physical deformity, wearing a hump and a limp to emphasize his status as an outsider and his twisted psyche. The supporting cast is also strong, with Cedric Hardwicke delivering a standout performance as the Duke of Buckingham, who slowly becomes disillusioned with Richard's actions. Nicholas Hannen also stands out as the Archbishop of Canterbury, who provides a moral compass for the story and ultimately helps guide Henry Tudor to the throne. The film's production design is noteworthy, featuring elaborate sets and costumes that transport the viewer back to the medieval era. The battle scenes, though relatively small in scale, are also well-executed and help to heighten the tension and drama of the story. One of the most striking aspects of the film is its use of language. The dialogue is taken directly from the original play, and Olivier and the rest of the cast deliver the lines with precision and nuance. The film's use of Shakespearean language may be challenging for some viewers, but it adds to the authenticity of the story and showcases the timeless quality of Shakespeare's work. Overall, Richard III is a powerful and gripping adaptation of one of Shakespeare's most iconic plays. Olivier's performance is unforgettable, and the film's production design and use of language make it a must-see for fans of both Shakespeare and classic cinema.