August 18th, 2011

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Looking for Richard and Richard III

Richard III

Last Tuesday I went to see Richard III starring Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic. It was bang in the midst of my Emperor and Galilean obsession and so I didn't really have time to prepare for it mentally ie do the background research on it prior to seeing the play.

This was my gut reaction to it:
Kevin Spacey. Richard III at the Old Vic. Old style sock it to 'em acting. Subtlety out the window. Result = very powerful. Blew me away. Loved it!

Looking for Richard

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Anyway, I am going to see Richard III again tonight. This time I have had time to do the prep. My prep was seeing Al Pacino's "Looking for Richard", which came out in 1996. I remember seeing it at the cinema and being blown away by it. This is the first time I have seen the film since 1996.

My reaction to the film? - mind-blowing! Highly highly recommended.

Why? Because it makes Shakespeare and Richard III accessible to everyone. It explains what the play is about - the plot, the characters, the motivations and the language. It gives you a behind the scenes look at what goes on in the rehearsal room when the actors discuss what the scene is about and what motivations are driving their characters. Above all, it shows that Shakespeare is relevant to the here and now and the contemporary world. My personal passion for Shakespeare is not founded on someone who is dead and buried but on a living and breathing Shakespeare, whose messages are as relevant today as when his plays were written half a century ago. His plays are about topics that interest people today - power and love being key - and I have always drawn, throughout my life, inspiration from Shakespeare's plots, characters, and his beautiful language and words.

Things that also struck me:
- Al Pacino is THE most amazing Shakespearean actor. He speaks the language as though that was his birthright. He makes it live and brings it to life. He makes the language accessible to Joe Public (ie me!). He shows that US actors can do Shakespeare brilliantly. I am also going to be revisiting The Merchant of Venice film where he plays Shylock - I cannot wait!
- They visited the Globe at the time that it was being constructed. It feels weird to see the Globe as a work in progress - I only know it as a done and dusted project.
- Kevin Spacey is in the film playing Buckingham. He is now of course taking on the title role at the Old Vic.

Anyway, what I am trying to say is watch "Looking for Richard".

It is being sold on Amazon for the bargain price of £4.

Review cut and pasted from Amazon:
Looking for Richard, a strange and charming documentary by Al Pacino in which he also stars, is an exploration of several topics: Shakespeare and his humpbacked villain, the impulse to act, the way actors work - and Pacino's single-minded effort to make the Bard accessible to all audiences and not just the effete few. Over the course of the film, Pacino alternately discusses the role and the text, roams Manhattan talking about Shakespeare with everyone from scholars to street people and re-creates scenes from the play in a production staged at the Cloisters, an evocative castle-like museum on the north end of Manhattan. He assembles a cast that includes Kevin Spacey, Winona Ryder, Estelle Parsons and Alec Baldwin to perform the scenes, slipping back and forth between text and discussion of the play in a way that makes Shakespeare comprehensible and fascinating to viewers who know or care nothing about his writing. - Marshall Fine,