Richard III (1995)




Director:    Richard Loncraine

Starring:     Ian McKellen (Richard III),  Annette Bening (Queen Elizabeth),  Jim Broadbent (Duke of Buckingham),  Robert Downey Jr. (Lord Rivers),  Nigel Hawthorne (George, Duke of Clarence),  Kristin Scott Thomas (Lady Anne),  John Wood (King Edward IV),  Maggie Smith (Duchess of York),  Jim Carter (Lord Hastings),  Edward Hardwicke (Lord Stanley),  Adrian Dunbar (James Tyrell),  Tres Hanley (Rivers' Mistress),  Dominic West (Henry, Earl of Richmond),  Roger Hammond (Archbishop),  Tim McInnerny (Catesby).

Shakespeare's Rchard III


Spoiler Warning:

This Richard III is one really nasty character.  It is almost as if Shakespeare was drawing a caricature of a completely evil man.  Richard III wants to be the King of England but there are quite a few others in his way to the throne.  A problem for some, but not for Richard.  He almost gleefully approaches the task of murder.  Like the true psychopath that he is, he has no trouble hypocritically praising others with syrupy language.  He is a slithering snake.  His first murder occurs at the start of the movie  --  the murder of Lady Anne's husband in order that he could then woo the Lady for his own.  Then he has one of his brothers murdered in his cell in the Tower of London.  The news of the death of the brother has Richards's other brother, King Edward IV, sent into a tail-spin and his already fragile health slips into slow death.  The next victim is the Queen Elizabeth's brother, Lord Rivers. 

Richard's next targets are the two offspring of the King and Queen.  He has them imprisoned in the Tower of London, where, at a later time, they are killed.  Enough people dead?  Not yet.  Richard is thorough if nothing else.  He has inner circle Lord Hastings killed because he is not an ally of Richard's. 

By this time, the other potential and future prospects for death, get wise to the game and start heading for France and safety.  The Duke of Buckingham is a target but escapes across the English Channel, along with Lord Stanley and Henry, Earl of Richmond, all scheduled for death. 

The final insult is that Richard announces he wants to marry the daughter of Queen Elizabeth. 

The final showdown happens when the three exiles invade England from France.  "A horse!  A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"

That Shakespeare has a way with words, doesn't he?  A very clever fellow when it comes to expressing thoughts in round about, cute ways.  Why say something directly when it can be implied in a more clever way?  The oratory is no match for Shakespeare's Henry V, but then the real Richard III was no inspiration for moving, motivational speeches. 


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:

See Richard III (1955) on this website.



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