Why does Al Pacino go looking for Richard? Like Branagh's struggle with Hamlet, Pacino battles his Richard III! Maybe this search is to help Pacino find out why he faired so poorly in the Broadway version of Richard III.
Was he intimidated by Shakespeare or did he buy into the rumour that Americans just can't do Shakespeare?
Pacino maintains a "homeboy" charm as he hits the streets of New York and London. Donning his baseball cap(worn fashionably backwards) to find out what the everyday person thinks of
Shakespeare and why we find it so complicated to read and understand Shakespeare.
"Looking for Richard" serves to disspel the nasty and nagging rumour that American actors just can't do Shakespeare! (Well, maybe not all American actors, anyway). He interviews accomplished American and British actors who have wrestled with Shakespeare.
Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Kline, and Vanessa Redgrave admitted to having a bit of rowl
with Shakespeare! Then of course, there's Sir John Gielgud who would have us believe he never broke a sweat over Shakespeare! According to Sir John, Americans struggle with Shakespeare, because we don't read enough!
I may have to give him a brownie point on that one!
On Pacino's journey to find Richard he gets around to talking to *the experts* on both sides of the Atlantic. Some argue that it's not all that important that you understand the *language*, but you should at least have an idea of what's going on in the plays. Hello! Call me a spoiler, but I'd still like
to have an idea when Richard is telling whomever to *bugger-off* at a precise moment. It would certainly set the tone for the scene! What some of us might need is a translator and we'll set to go! Of course there are the pesty little historians who give explainations as complicated as some of the Bard's works! Blah, blah, blah. Why even Pacino had to scratch his head a couple of times!
The production crew take a trip to Shakespeare's place of birth (the actual birthing chamber) for inspiration. Pacino and his co-producer proceed to set off the smoke detectors in the room and are asked to leave!
It whole scene is quite funny! We see rehearsals back in the States for what will be the *stage* version of Richard III. The rehearsal scenes between the actors are wonderful. Castmembers discuss their respective characters and their interactions and reactions with and to other characters. Sometimes the discussion get quite heated. The rehearsals and street interviews scenes are interestingly woven in with footage of the play.
The documentary does manage cut to the chase, Richard! *His story*; his motivation; his sometimes bloody use and malnipulation of events and people around him. Many would believe that because of Richard's physical malady he should by all rights be a self-loathing man, he is not. At least if he is, he's not letting anyone know it. Where he may be twisted in body, he makes up for in twisted but shrewd intellect, timing, and loathing of those around him. I never quite pity Richard until the very end, when he finds himself alone on the battle mornfully uttering the famous words "A horse. A horse. My kingdom for a horse". Does he value his life over his hard fought for kingdom? By the time the play is done with him, we know if he had gotten that horse, he would been back for the his kingdom, another horse, and the whole shabang! Face it, Richard would have made a killing in the corporate and political world of the 1990's!
One lesson learned is that Richard III is the most performed of all Shakespeare plays! More than *Hamlet* you ask? Yep! I never knew that myself and I took Shakespearian literature in college. What *Looking for Richard* proves that one can never know too much about Shakespeare. Or can one? This is always something to be learned. God knows, I got more out of this film, then I got out of that lit class!
Does Al ever find Richard? My guess is that he doesn't really, not in the professional sense anyway, but he does battle quite well against his demon! Pacino does a great job at this self-directed and produced documentary film on Richard III. The street interviews are fun to watch and the editing is superb!
Would I run out to see Pacino in Shakespeare? Nay! Of course, if he's wearing his baseball cap (worn fashionably backwards) and allowed to do it in his
Bronx accent, I might be persuaded! Otherwise, in the words of a friend he's *too contemporary* for traditional Shakespeare!
Well worth taking a run down to the video store for!