Director Al Pacino juxtaposes scenes from Richard III, scenes of rehearsals for Richard III, and sessions where parties involved discuss the play, the times that shaped the play and the events that happened at the time the play is set. Interviews with mostly British actors are also included, attempting to explain why American actors have more problems performing Shakespearean plays than they do.
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The brilliance of this movie is its effort to show us exactly why Shakespeare is still relevant to us today. My personal favorite was the homeless, toothless man who believed that a violent society was the result of our failure to appreciate Shakespearean language and idiom.However, as a PhD student in British history, I was dismayed by the lack of historical context presented by Pacino, his coterie of actors, and particularly the scholars interviewed. I nearly fell off the couch when one literature professor said that he didn't know why Richard had married Anne Neville in real life. Folks, SHAKESPEARE IS NOT REAL HISTORY. As with most playwrights, the Bard edits and telescopes events to suit his own purposes--in this case, the presentation of the Richmond branch of the Lancastrians as the rightful heirs to the throne. Richard was not hunchbacked or deformed; Queen Elizabeth Woodville was a conniving schemer with an army of grasping relatives, not the innocent we see in the play; Richard and Anne married for love nearly 15 years before Edward IV's death; Richard himself probably neither committed, approved, nor knew about his nephews' murder. A Shakespearean film or play can only be truly appreciated within its historical context, as only then do we see the deft touch of the writer as he manipulates events into his own narrative.
An interesting documentary about Al Pacino putting on a production ofWilliam Shakespeare's "Richard III", "Looking for Richard" is a neatlook into everything. Much of the documentary features interviews withother cast members from the production putting in their two cents. Apretty perceptive movie, and it goes to show why Al Pacino is one ofthe greatest actors of our time. Also starring Harris Yulin, AlecBaldwin, Kevin Spacey, Winona Ryder, James Earl Jones and Kevin Kline.There's even an interview with Paul Gleason (aka Clarence Beaks in"Trading Places" and the principal in "The Breakfast Club"), who diedyesterday.
"So that's what he means!" Those were my words upon first viewing this film at eleven years of age. For the first time, Shakespeare made sense to me. Pacino presented it well as an introduction and an exploration of Shakespeare. The acting is exellent. However. If you're looking for a complete breakdown of Richard III you will not find it here. At times one feels that the production is just a lark for Hollywood insiders. But I digress. "Looking For Richard" is a good place to start understanding Shakespeare or stage acting in general. Then go out and explore on your own.
When this film first came out, one critic (who's name I don't recall) said Pacino should be locked in a tower until he'd written scripts for similar documentaries ON ALL OF SHAKESPEARE'S PLAYS!I couldn't agree more.It's too bad there's no DVD version playable in the U.S. (assuming there would be "extras" of course). But I've waited so long to get a copy of this, that the Instant Video version is good enough.Whether you love Shakespeare, or not, SEE THIS FILM!
I am, to say the least, NOT a fan of Shakespeare, but Al Pacino'sdocumentary helped me to understand how actors go about to portrayShakespearian characters. Through this, I felt more drawn in directly withthe play and therefore, more intrigued and entertained. The documentary wasa little scattered at points but it was also interesting to see how actorslike Pacino and Kevin Spacey go about representing their characters. All inall, I thought it was definitely worth a look if you are a Shakespeare fanand only worth it to non-Shakespeare fans if you want to begin to understandhis plays.
I like Al Pacino in many movies, especially, of course, Godfather 2. I'veseen him on the stage & enjoyed his performances in O'Neill & Mamet.But to me Shakespeare is not his forte. In this film which I find to be mostly an exercise in actorlyself-indulgence, he comes off sounding like Mel Brooks both as narrator &especially in character. I also find the intent rather condescending & for the most part irrelevant.The gap between English & American actors doing Shakespeare has to do withtwo elements: Language & History. I didn't hear much commentary on theseissues. Mostly the film sounds like a treatise for making Shakespearepalatable to grade schoolers.
Al Pacino takes an actor's workshop spin through one of Shakespeare's most intensely fascinating characters -- and, the source play, RICHARD III -- in the documentary-styled cinematic exploration, LOOKING FOR RICHARD. Along with fellow actors Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Winona Ryder, Aidan Quinn, and others, the star-director (Pacino) wrestles with all the questions that seem to swirl around the intriguing plot and complex characters of Shakespeare's historical play, which focuses on the rise to power, and brief reign, of the malicious title character.The best review that I can give this movie, manifested itself at a personal level: As soon as I finished viewing this film, I made a bee-line to my local bookstore to buy a paperback copy of the play. If that is what Pacino intended, I should say his film was a resounding success. This film is also highly recommended to students reading Shakespeare -- and, to their teachers, who may be seeking ways to make the text come to life. In LOOKING FOR RICHARD, Shakespeare's characters breathe with fresh vigor as Pacino, aided by commentary from the great Shakespearean actors of our age -- Sir John Gielgud, Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Kevin Kline, and James Earl Jones, among others -- extemporizes on the motives that drove the characters and the meanings of their words and actions.One of the ways in which Pacino accomplishes this in LOOKING FOR RICHARD is by explicating each scene -- analyzing and debating how it ought to be acted -- before staging the full-blown sequence with his vibrant troupe of screen actors. For instance, before we see the opening speech ("Now is the winter of our discontent..."), we see only a false start: Pacino utters the first word of the play -- "Now" -- and, immediately breaks off to a seminar on Shakespeare's choice of the word "now" to start telling the story.Additionally, the various scenes are staged and shot in varying locations, drawing attention also to the stylistic diversity of Shakespeare productions, and how these lead to, or support, different interpretations of the plays. Thus, the opening scene is staged at the Cloisters, in Manhattan; another scene is plotted in the urban desolation of a New York City alley; still another is staged on a black soundstage, with sparse production values. Moreover, for a number of scenes, alternate presentations are given -- showing us, again, how the texts come to life at the hands of the actors and directors who continue to imbue Shakespeare with the life-sustaining breath of their own individual perspectives and styles.In the end, this enthusiasm for experimental approaches that shake up and rattle the text, as if to shake off our preconceptions about its archaic language and remoteness in time, is what carries this film. Sometimes, that enthusiasm seems to reach absurd proportions -- as when Pacino visits the home where Shakespeare was born, LOOKING FOR inspiration. Most of the time, though, it leads to glorious results -- as when Pacino and his crew stage one of the scenes in the restored Globe Theater, where Shakespeare and his fellows first staged the play in 1597. Four hundred years later, Pacino finds that the Bard still lives.(Carlos Colorado)
Al Pacino's first directorial effort is a great account of Shakespere'sRichard III. It shows us how to understand something in layman's terms. Thefilm is captivating and worth watching several times. It borders ondocumentary and real drama, so don't expect a straight adaption of the play.Instead sit back and enjoy Pacino explaining and portraying one of the greattragic figures of English literature.
This is brillant. Wheather you like Shakespere, Al Pacino, theatre, film, or acting, Looking For Richard is so fun on so many levels, you have to be numb not to enjoy it. Even the easiest Shakespere is hard to understand: simply, there is a language barrier. This may be English, but it is 500 year old English in both poetic and dramatic form. Pile on this complex motivations and historical referances Shakespere took for granted his audiance knowing, and yes, I would pick up my Playboy after a few pages too.Lucky for us, we have none other than Al Pacino to walk us through Richard III, problably one of Billy's most complicated plays. To help, he gets Sir John Geilgood, Kevin Klien, Kevin Spacey, Wanona Rider, Venessa Redgrave, Estelle Parsons (Roseanne's crazy mom) and other, lesser known actors and accidemics to walk us through this play. How? Basically, by walking themselves through it. They reherse the play, talk about it, fight about it, and talk about it some more. They scout locations, they discuss it in New York City cafes, with passers by on the sidewalk. They work it out on the street, sometimes using trash cans as props. They work in costumes, they work in t-shirts and sunglasses. They talk about the history, the motivations of the characters, and about the politics of it.All this is done as they are hanging out, playing with the words and emotions, the way actors do. Pacino adds voice overs, explaining the parts of the play in convorsational languge, as if you are having a cup of coffee with him. This is no high-brow excursion; this is making Shakespere accessable to anyone willing to watch.As if this is not enough, you also get to see some of our best actors as people, working, relaxing, and thinking. You see them as people. Pacino reminds me more of my easy-going jazz bass teacher than the driven cops and hoods he usually plays. Also great is the insight you gain into how actors work. Since there are many actors in this film, there are many opinions on this material. Pacino may have taken the initative here, but he really lets things roll. You get to see how scenes (from Richard III) are dicected, experimented on, and the fun these guys are having. If you want to have some fun too, check Looking For Richard out.
Al Pacino's Looking for Richard was an overlooked gem. Aninsightful, funny and poignant look at the troubles Shakespearecauses American actors and film makers.Part Documentary, part dramatization of Richard III.Wonderfully acted especially by Winona Ryder who goes through agamut of emotions in the seduction scene and Kevin Spaceyawesome as usual.Give this a chance on video, a low A as a grade.
Like Ian McKellen's unconventional RICHARD III, this film brings us intoShakespeare in an unusual and effective way. Al Pacino gathers a number ofwell-known non-Shakespearian actors and they not only stage several of themore important scenes in the play, but they also discuss the meaning of thescenes and the motivations of the characters. These discussion act as aprelude to the scenes and thus make the scenes not only much clearer butalso far more powerful than the traditional productions in which theaudience may be lost in the dusty old politics that saturate the play. Seethis one before you see any of the more traditional versions.
Al Pacino's Looking for Richard is one of the most complex documentary films yet made. On one level, it is a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the rigors of bringing a celebrated stage play onto the big screen. On another level, it is an examination of why Shakespeare's works have proved so intimidating to the average Joe on the street and what can be done to obliterate many misconceptions. Finally, Pacino's film is an intelligent, scholarly analysis of one of Shakespeare's darkest and most complex dramatic works.With solid performances by Kevin Spacey, Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin and many others, and with probing commentary by some of today's greatest Shakespearean actors and scholars, Looking for Richard is an absolute must.
"Looking for Richard" is a great challenge for theatre students becausewatching both the scenes and the rehearsal process is as close to parodyovertaking truth as I have seen on film. Or in life. The actors' argumentsabout how to play a scene will almost certainly encourage acting students toleap into the process -- a very good thing. I only hope that some will findhonour in the self-absorbed pursuit of character and truth. Pacino, good ina few films early in his career, strikes fear into the heart of thosefamiliar with the text or with playing Shakespeare. (Who encouraged hisvocal affectations?)If the film aims to demystify the language of Wm. S, it has only reinforcedthat you cannot muscle your way by invoking The Method without techniquebehind it. I subscribe to the notion that yes, anyone can play the plays ofthe Bard without having had British training or lineage as a pre-requisite,but I'd go further than the film's endorsement of hiring those unfamiliarwith language more dense than monosyllables and inhaled projection as thesine qua non.I am anxious to hear students' responses when I show this film alongside theOlivier and McKellen adaptations.
I really like looking behind the scenes of making a film - or, as in this case - putting on a play.I've been searching for this film for quite a while, and I'm glad it is again available. It's a must-see for students of acting, Shakespeare, or both.Al Pacino is faced with mounting a free production of Richard III in Central Park. Along the way, he has to assemble his crew of actors and actresses, coordinate the production, and try to get his arms around one of the Bard's more difficult plays. There is a world of difference in reading Shakespeare, and watching it on stage. I think we've all done penance reading Shakespeare, with mixed results. I've found the language in the abstract (i.e. simply reading the play) to be difficult. Seeing it on stage (or screen) adds the visual element, that makes it more understandable. (After all, the plays were meant to be seen, not read.)This is a film that will bear watching over and over again. Follow it by watching the play itself.Highly recommended.
To borrow a line from LFR, "This is turning into a movie about a play!". Richard The 3rd comes alive, like I've never before experienced it! As an actor and drama teacher, I've found this video to be as entertaining, as it is instructive! It's opened up a whole new world to my students...and helped them to become aquainted with, and develop a love for Shakespeare. This is one you don't want to miss!
Shakespeare In Love? Mr. Pacino et al are in love with Shakespeare,truly, madly, deeply and thank God for that. While Canada's StratfordFestival began fifty-two years ago with decidedly Royal ShakespeareCompany pretensions, while searching for its audience, voice and uniqueidentity, (Alec Guinness opened the Festival in 1953 with a brilliantRichard III)it has staged some incredible interpretations of the canonwith performances by British, American, as well as then unknown youngCanadian actors including Christopher Plummer and my God, in truth, Ionce watched a young kid named Wm. Shatner from Montreal literallyinhabit Prince Hal in Henry IV, I and II, with dynamism, boldness, wit,intelligence and unbridled energy. In Canada, Stratford has nearsinglehandedly made Shakespeare accessible and understandable, withoutcondescension, in part through its inexpensive programs tailoredespecially for schools and the near messianic spirit of making themajesty of Shakepeare's English intelligible, in essence transcendingthe four century 'divide' with visually stunning,sometimescontroversial but most often gratifying entertainments. Kudos to Al Pacino and company for undertaking their quest in America.Looking For Richard is truly a revelation. I always suspected thatbeneath the Method breathed the soul of a great, but frustrated artist,who seemed always to be searching for ...himself? How absolutelycourageous and generous of Al and his colleagues to invite to share intheir journey of discovery. This is not and was not ever meant to beanother film version of the play. It is about becoming...
Yes, it's disjunct, self-absorbed, and even drags a bit near the end. Butthis film will help anyone interested to understand a very complicatedShakespearean play with very complicated characters on a fairly deep level.This is no small feat, and I wholeheartedly recommend the film, especiallyjust before watching Ian McKellen's Richard III.However, my primary reason for writing this review was that I found itdisturbing and sad to see Winona Ryder's name mentioned in a positive wayinnearly every review on this page, while the incomparable Penelope Allen wasnot mentioned once. Allen's performance upstages those of every otheractorand actress in the film, including Pacino's excellent portrayal of Richard.Ryder, on the other hand, shows obvious signs of not comprehending the textor her character and is undoubtedly the weakest aspect of the film. Ithinkit's time for the female half of the acting profession to be judged on themerits of their acting, not on whether or not they are young, slender, andbeautiful (particularly when discussing Shakespearean acting).So, if you have any interest in Shakespeare, Al Pacino, documentaryfilm-making, great acting, and/or creative directing, rent Looking forRichard. If you're only interested in Winona Ryder, rent Bram Stoker'sDracula or Girl, Interrupted again and leave this one on the shelf for thepeople that will appreciate it.
First off lets be clear, this is a documentary about Al Pacino making a version of Richard III. As someone who has very minimal knowledge of Shakespeare I found this to be very interesting and it made me want to watch a complete film or see it performed at a theatre. Contrary to some previous reviewers I'd say that Pacino showed great respect to the material and to the more famous British actors who have been involved in versions of this story down the years. He interviews Sir John Guilgud and Kenneth Brannagh to try and understand what the lines he is saying really mean. I have no doubt that if Sir Lawrence Olivier had still been alive Pacino would have wanted to interview him about his famous performance. Pacino proves himself to be an engaging and intelligent presenter, and his Richard III, whilst undoubtably heavily influenced by Oliver is a striking performance. If like me you have never studied Shakespeare, and have little understanding of what is now frankly almost a foreign language then this film gives you the opportunity to be educated and entertained at the same time.
I love this stuff. But not because it is good -- because it is so bad andthe fates have built into the very work a commentary why. And the commentaryis by Shakespeare! Wonderful.IssuesThere's a real issue here that is just skirted at the beginning. ShouldShakespeare be turned over to actors? Or should someone with a larger visionthan mere visceral emotion be in charge and, well. direct, This is a verycogent question with Shakespeare. Clearly, the later plays are not actor'splays but are about ideas. The early plays, like say Romeo and Juliet areclearly actor's plays. They are about people and situations and humanmotivators. Hamlet is both an early and a later play, as it was rewrittenand expanded. Actors alone have a terrible time giving us something wholeout of Hamlet.Richard is a problem too. It is an early play, written while Shakespearehimself was an actor and still learning. Probably, some scenes were writtenby Marlowe. But it is a huge vision, and one must look at it whole and thenabstract the threads that work. You can't build up something that works fromimmediate emotions and paste it together as Pacino attempts. All thisproduces are disconnected scenes that don't work together. And that's whatwe have here.Another issue. Shakespeare is work. It is work for us all, on both sides ofthe stage. Earnestness counts for nothing. Pacino's experiment is to get abunch of non-Shakespearean film folks together. `We won't even work out whohas what part.' We watch them stumble about. How revealing, especially whenwe see snippets from real actors: Redgrave, Branagh, Jacobi, Gielgud. Butsigh, no acting from them here.The real issue: Pacino jumps into his roles with a heaviness that he wearsand which pricks and grates. He generates nothing from inside, just spitsabout. Even if there were some subtle understandings that a group of actorscould collaboratively find, it could never occur from this sort of crass inyour face mugging.Richard is a usurper who both charms and forces his way to kingdom. But hedoesn't have the internal clockworks to actually connect with his people.Likewise, in this role, Pacino tries to catapult past the basic work -- heforces himself into this role by dint of force without earning it. So hecannot connect with us, his audience.This is wonderfully educational.
Some people miss the point here -- this is not really about Richard III.Rather it is an attempt to communicate (and it does so with amazingclarityand passion) the joy, frustrations, rewards, and sheer hard work of theactof theatrical creation! YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE AN ACTOR(ORANY CREATIVE PERFORMER) THIS FILM WILL CONVEY IT!