ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Ian McKellen is "Richard III" in a fascist-inspired version of Britain (1995)


ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Ian McKellen is "Richard III" in a fascist-inspired version of Britain (1995)
by Darius Kadivar

Richard III is a 1995 drama film adapted from William Shakespeare's play. The film relocates the play's events to a fictionalized version of Britain in what appears to be a fascist-inspired 1930s. Directed by Richard Loncraine Starring Ian McKellenAnnette BeningJim BroadbentRobert Downey Jr.Nigel HawthorneKristin Scott ThomasDame Maggie SmithJohn Wood and Dominic West.
Official Trailer:
Sir Ian McKellen explains the opening speech of Richard III:
********************************************************************************* *********************************************************************************                                 Miscellaneous Scenes from the Move  ********************************************************************************* ********************************************************************************* Richard III: Opening Scene: 
Richard kills the husband of his future wife.

'Now is the winter of our discontent' soliloquy performed by Ian McKellen:
With the long but brilliant introduction in this modernized version, the soliloquy actually starts  about 5 and a half minutes into this clip. Richard III: King Edward's Death: This is the scene where Edward dies, and his wife Elizabeth (Annette Bening) mourns his death. Her brother, Lord Rivers (Robert Downey Jr) is her shoulder to lean on as he argues with Richard (Ian McKellen).
Richard III: Lady Anne mourns, gets wooed:
McKellen delights in showing Richard's humor and arrogance as he dances off  at the end of this scene to the jazz music of the first.
Richard III:Dinner Scene: Queen Elizabeth (Annette Bening) and Lord Rivers (Robert Downey Jr) argue with Richard (Ian McKellen) over dinner... nobody really eats anything.

Richard III: Lord Rivers' Murder: (NOTE: Warning Sex and Violence in this scene can be troubling to young viewers) Richard III: Train Scene:


About the Film:

The film's concept was based on a stage production directed by Richard Eyre for the Royal National Theatre, which also starred McKellen. The production was adapted for the screen by McKellen and directed by Richard Loncraine.

The film is notable for its unconventional use of famous British landmarks, often using special effects to move them to new locations. The transformed landmarks used include the following:

Perhaps the play's most famous line—"A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"—was recontextualised by the more recent setting; during the climactic battle, Richard's scout car becomes stuck, and his lament is cast as a plea for a mode of transport with legs rather than wheels.

In a surprising ending, where Richard refuses to be captured and leaps down to his death with the "wrong" closing line "Let us to't pell-mell; if not to heaven, then hand-in-hand to hell", his falling into the inferno is followed by the eerily upbeat tune "I'm Sitting On The Top Of The World" (Ray Henderson, Joe Young and Sam Lewis) in the classic version sung by Al Jolson.

The film enlarges the role of the Duchess of York considerably by combining her character with that of Queen Margaret, as compared with the 1955 Olivier film version of the play, in which the Duchess hardly appeared at all. The roles of Rivers, Grey and Vaughan are combined into Rivers. The death scenes are shown rather than implied as in the play, and changed to suit the time (Hastings is hanged rather than beheaded) or historical accuracy (Clarence dies by having his throat cut in a bathtub, rather than being drowned in a wine barrel). Lord Rivers, who usually dies offstage (or in the case of Olivier's film offscreen) is impaled by the device of a sharp spike spurting up from the bottom of his mattress while he lies in bed after having sex with a woman in a hotel room. Each character's pre-death monologue is also removed, except that of Clarence.

McKellen himself stated on his website: "When you put this amazing old story in a believable modern setting, it will hopefully raise the hair on the back of your neck, and you won't be able to dismiss it as 'just a movie' or, indeed, as 'just old-fashioned Shakespeare.'




  • Ian McKellen as King Richard III
  • Annette Bening as Queen Elizabeth
  • Jim Broadbent as The Duke of Buckingham
  • Kristin Scott Thomas as Lady Anne
  • John Wood as King Edward IV
  • Adrian Dunbar as James Tyrrell
  • Maggie Smith as The Duchess of York
  • Tim McInnerny as William Catesby
  • Robert Downey, Jr. as Earl Rivers
  • Edward Hardwicke as Lord Stanley
  • Nigel Hawthorne as The Duke of Clarence
  • Jim Carter as Lord Hastings
  • Dominic West as The Earl of Richmond
  • Trés Hanley as Earl Rivers Mistress
  • Roger Hammond as The Archbishop
  • Kate Steavenson-Payne as Princess Elizabeth
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