Comparing and Contrasting Richard Iii with Its Film Adaptation

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The 1995 film Richard III follows the plot and script of the original play very closely, but is quite different in its setting. While the play takes place in the 1400s, this film is set in the 1930s. As such, many differences in aesthetic are to be assumed. The characters wear modern clothing and technology is up to date: Men wear suits and ties, women wear modern dresses; rather than horses people rely on cars, trains and planes for transportation; rather than lute players people listen to phonographs; rather than battles being fought with lances, bow and arrows and swords on horseback, soldiers are armed with guns and command tanks. Strangely enough, despite the presence of a Prime Minister in the film there still exists a royal rule, implying that the film is set in a Fascist state. In fact, the garments of the king and his men are reminiscent of Nazi general uniforms.

Quite a bit of the script was cut from the film, including nearly the entirely of acts two and three. Presumably this was to keep the film’s runtime from becoming overlong, and as such a few scenes were reassembled. For example, the original play begins with Richard’s speech describing Warwick’s assassination and his brother, Edward IV’s ascension to the throne, while the film begins with an actual depiction of the assassination, with Richard’s speech following shortly thereafter. The speech, incidentally, is partially recited before a crowd rather than entirely in private as in the play. This treatment also occurs with the scenes depicting Richard’s hiring of Tyrrell and his accusing Elizabeth of convincing her husband the king to arrest his and Richard’s brother Clarence. In the play Richard hiring Tyrrell to murder Clarence is followed by his accusing Elizabeth; in the film, they are reversed.

In the play, we eventually learn that Stanley’s loyalty lies with Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond and intends to betray Richard. This is foreshadowed early in the play when Stanley assures...
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