Looking for Richard Documentary Film by Al Pacino Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Richardis a documentary film made by Al Pacino in 1996 and is based on the historical play Richard III written by William Shakespeare. Richard III remained the King of England for just two years only (1483-1485). In Richard III, Shakespeare has sketched how Machiavellian tendency of Richard III enabled him to gain power despite his brother Clarence being prior to Richard III in line of succession. Since Richard III was one of the longest plays of Shakespeare and was indirectly connected to the events in Henry VI plays of the same writer, whenever Richard III was directed and acted out, there were significant abridgments in original version and context of several parts of Richard III was difficult to absorb by audiences. The three central values of Richard III are power, manipulation, and corruption. These three values have got creatively reshaped in Looking for Richard.

Introduction to topics

Power and control

Power and the yearning of Richard III to be seated at the throne through any available means, whether just or unjust, is the central theme that runs through Richard III and significantly through Looking for Richard. In order to control the political stage, Richard III rejects the Christian notions of morals and religion as being central to politics. Richard III portrays that people in power, specifically those having deceptive traits have no regard for their promises and honesty. Everyone wants power and everyone but Richard has limits to seek power. This is presented in scene 2 where Richard III and Buckingham converse with each other. The following lines describe how desperate Richard III was that Young Edward dies at once.

"O bitter consequence, That Edward still should live!'True, noble prince!' Cousin, thou wert not won't to be so dull: Shall I be plain? I wish the bastards dead; and I would have it suddenly perform'd. What sayest thou? Speak suddenly; be brief"(Richard III, n.d.).

This desire of Richard III is plainly spoken of in the above lines of scene 2. Richard III seeks to seize control of the throne and thus of everybody around him. Same values to seek power and control are portrayed by Al-Pacino of Looking for Richard as well. By carefully selecting the cast of film and the venues for recording, Al-Pacino has shown that he has no limits to seek power. Whereas Richard III presents himself as the keeper of the throne and savior of people of the Kingdom, Al Pacino tries to present himself as the keeper of Shakespearean text. Al Pacino first strips the British people of their rightful claim of Shakespeare's work, repossesses the work, and then reforms it according to his own taste, according to the taste of Americans and the street New Yorkers. Shakespeare's villain character is portrayed by Richard III under the guise of saving his countrymen in actuality harms the cause of the Kingdom by depriving it of the rightful heir, Young Edward. And this exercise was to claim power and control of the throne. Same value is creatively reshaped in Looking for Richard when Al Pacino does opposite of what he claims, he actually commoditizes the Shakespearean text by de-forming it and uses the script's obscurity to gain control for its interpretation. How desperate Al Pacino gets to remove Shakespearean scholars from knowledge base of Shakespeare is evident in the near-opening scenes when Frederic Kimball, assistant to Al Pacino insists that "Actors truly are the possessors, the proud inheritors of the understanding of Shakespeare!" implying that Al Pacino is the rightful inheritor of Shakespearean text as opposed to anyone else. Al Pacino uses MTV-esque film technique that involves quick cuts between dissimilar locations and happenings. A mosaic array of disparate scenes having similar meaning is created through this technique.


In order to seize the power that Richard III so earnestly yearns for, killing someone, may it be brother of one, is depicted as being normal for the Prince and to attain the throne, Machiavellian manipulation is adopted by the central character in both Richard III and Looking for Richard.

From the very start in scene 2 when Richard III is seen conversing with Buckingham, it is evident that he is manipulating him to help Richard III achieve his cause that is to be permanently seated at the throne. In the opening lines, he entices Buckingham to become a…

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