Friday, March 8, 2013

Shakespeare's Richard III

The discovery of Richard III's [1452-1485] remains beneath a Leicester, England parking lot has not only spurred a resurgence of interest in Richard the historical figure, but also, not surprisingly, the charismatic fictionalized anti-hero of William Shakespeare's play The Tragedy of King Richard III. Writing at a time when the Tudor dynasty was necessarily portrayed as the benevolent embodiment of divine sovereignty, Richard's reign had to presented as an aberration. In perpetuating this myth, Shakespeare created one of the most sublimely duplicitous characters in all of literature, a character "determined to prove a villain and hate the idle pleasures of these days." This determined villainy has thrilled audiences for over four hundred years, on stage and eventually on film. The definitive screen version of Richard was given by Sir Laurence Olivier in the 1955 adaptation, though Sir Ian McKellen's performance in the 1995 adaptation should not be missed.