Richard Loncraine’s Rendition of William Shakespeare’s Richard III

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Richard Loncraine’s rendition of William Shakespeare’s Richard III is memorable in its appeal to modern viewers partly because it relocates the action of the play to a fantasized Nazi Germany-styled England of the 1940s, rather than keeping fifteenth-century England as the setting as Shakespeare originally intended. But while this approach undoubtedly allows the story of Richard III to be broadcasted to a more diverse audience, its total rejection of historical fact, along with the way in which Loncraine skips around the text, cuts scenes, and adds small but important details to the aesthetics of Shakespeare’s play may mislead the audience and thus distract them from the original piece. Therefore, it is for this reason that although the …show more content…
After all, we have all seen films that build off of the atrocities committed by the Nazis, so what harm is committed by adapting the costumes and props of a play to fit a character whose actions could have fit the age that is being emulated? However, the costumes and props are not the only aspects of the tragedy/history of Richard that are altered; indeed, Loncraine goes to great lengths to make the story pleasing to modern audiences, even at the expense of some small but important scenes. For instance, the scene in which three citizens discuss the uncertain future of the kingdom after Edward IV’s death (2.3) is entirely left out of Loncraine’s adaptation. Moreover, Lord Rivers is savagely killed in his bed, rather than by beheading (3.3), with no mention of Lord Gray and Sir Thomas Vaughan whatsoever; and instead of being killed by Catesby (3.4), Lord Hastings in hanged by Tyrrell. So, although it is true that all of these men die, the ways in which they meet their ends are tampered with to a considerable degree. I found Loncraine’s choice to change the script in these way to be one method of increasing Ian McKellen’s—that is, Richard’s—time on the screen. He is, after all, in nearly every scene of the movie, whereas there are many times in the play where his place in the spotlight is taken by another character whose function is to either further the plot or give

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