Shakespeare’s Richard III as depicted in Sir Ian McKellen’s film….


In the following article, Sir Ian McKellen talks specifically about his 1930s version of Shakespeare’s “Richard III”.

No mention is made of the real Richard, oh, and the horse for his kingdom has become a jeep! There are  various reasons why I will not be watching this, but tell me, how can it really be Shakespeare’s Richard if more than two and a half hours and forty characters have been cut? Two and a half hours and forty characters? A great many of the Bard’s nuances are bound to have been sacrificed.

It’s art, I know, and one of hundreds of interpretations over the years, so my quibbles are neither here nor there in the great scheme of things. They matter to me, though.



  1. Most adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays cut out some of the time and characters in order to make a better paced, normal-length film – the only exception is the full-length version of “Hamlet” directed by Kenneth Branagh (4 hours, 20 minutes long). And yes, it’s possible to cut side characters and some of the dialogue and make a faithful adaptation, if one is keeping the themes, characterization and spirit of the original work. Most adaptations do it – if they wouldn’t, they would not be making films or TV series at all, but would simply go and film a performance of the play.

    I’m not sure why is accuracy to Shakespeare’s play even an issue to be brought up on this website? It’s not a website about Shakespeare, but about the historical Richard III.

    How else would you justify a 20th century man shouting “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse” during a battle? I thought king’s jeep getting stuck was a really clever way to create context for that line.

    I really can’t understand why you devote so much time to complaining about a movie you haven’t even seen.


    1. This website is concerned with Richard III, and so is Shakespeare’s play. I see nothing out-of-place in discussing the latter here. Shakespeare’s Richard was not a 20th century man, and I think even the Bard would be a little bemused by a jeep. There is no need to actually see this movie, because its contents are manifest. My opinion of it wasn’t, but is now.


      1. “Shakespeare’s Richard was not a 20th century man”
        Shakespeare’s Richard 1) did not exist, and 2) was supposed to be a 15th century man but was clearly anachronistic, talking about Machiavelli and dressed like a man of the late 16th century (since all plays in Shakespeare’s time were performed in contemporary costumes).

        What Shakespeare would or wouldn’t be bemused by is anyone’s guess. I bet he would be bemused by the existence of a jeep in general, since he never saw it, but if you showed him the movie, he’d certainly understand that it’s a future means of transport, as evident by the scene. I’m sure he’d mostly be surprised by the fact that people are still performing his plays 500 years into the future, and not just that, but writing criticism about it and works of literary theory, and that he’s considered one of the greatest writers of all time, and mostly for his plays rather than his published poems. Aside from that, well, I think he’d be rather bemused by the idea that some people 500 years into the future believe that the right way to perform some of his plays is either to treat them as historically accurate and play them in costumes contemporary to the action of the play, which was never the custom in his own time, while some other of his plays are played in the costumes of Shakespeare’s time. And he’d be even more bemused that there are people seriously advocating that in the name of ‘accuracy’.
        (He’d also have trouble understanding the accent that people are performing his plays in.)

        I don’t understand what “there is no need to actually see this movie” is supposed to mean. What need are you talking about? There’s no “need” to see any movie, read any book, watch any play.


      1. Why do you devote time to complaining about people complaining about people complaining about a movie they haven’t seen?

        P.S. At least I have seen this movie.

        Now I’m going to go and complain on Tumblr about how much I hate the new “Batman v Superman” movie, though I haven’t seen it yet. I’m sure I can write a great review of it without seeing it. Then I’ll go check on Goodreads which books have just been published, so I’ll go and rate them 1 star and write bad reviews because I don’t like the summaries.


  2. >>>>I really can’t understand why you devote so much time to complaining about a movie you haven’t even seen.<<<<
    I was responding to the above sentence in your first comment.


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