Friday, August 29, 2008

Looking for Richard (1996)

Looking for Richard (1996, Pacino)
As fascinating and frustrating to watch as it must have been for Al Pacino to make this documentary. It charts his four-year quest to explore Shakespeare's Richard III, initially with the ambition to find a way to make it more accessible to contemporary American audiences. The film is a mixture of rehearsal and performances (though there was never a full-length production) interviews with actors and academics, and footage of Pacino and his collaborator,
Frederic Kimball prowling the streets on both sides of the Atlantic, collecting vox populi, arguing and discussing with each other and at one point, setting off the fire alarm inside Shakepeare's birth-place as they attempt to make sense of the play and sense of Pacino's obsession with it. Whether intended or not, what comes through at the end is how much Pacino resembles his main character in so many ways: single-mindedness, manipulativeness though for very different ends. It makes you appreciate the power of Shakespeare and admire the talent and drive of Pacino, as well as the stars he gathers around him in his quest.

Looking for Richard is available on DVD from Fox and also features
John Geilgud (interview), Vanessa Redgrave (interview), Kevin Kline (interview), Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Estelle Parsons, Winona Ryder, Penelope Allen, Kevin Conway, F. Murray Abraham, Aidan Quinn, Kenneth Branagh (interview), James Earl Jones (interview), Rosemary Harris (interview), Derek Jacobi (interview)

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