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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 5/2/00

Richard III
1995 (2000) - MGM

review by Brad Pilcher of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Richard III Film Rating: A-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A+/A/C

Specs and Features

104 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, production notes, film-themed menu screens, scene access (32 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD 2.0 mono), subtitles: French, Spanish, Closed Captioned

"Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York."

Shakespeare's Richard III has been brought into the 1930s with this Richard Loncraine directed 1995 piece. Written by and starring Ian McKellen, this version is one of the better adaptations of the bard onscreen today. The cinematography is expressionistic in nature, and it would have fit in very well as a musical with McKellen looking directly at the camera at times. This provides a very theatrical feel to the film, further enhancing the Shakespearean nature.

The plotline is rather simple, and for those of you who are not so familiar with the bard, it goes something like this. England has just emerged from a divisive civil war with the victorious King Edward on the throne. His brother however, the sneering Richard of Gloucester, would much rather see himself on the throne. Royal blood from Richard's two brothers and his nephews is spilt as Richard claws his way towards the throne. Nazi pageantry abounds here with the fascist overtones of this adaptation.

The video on this disc is simply superb. We are given the option of an anamorphic widescreen or full frame view. This film, above others, is meant for its original aspect ratio. The full frame does more than just rob the film of its full intent - it is virtually impossible to appreciate the film in that form. Still, both transfers look stunning and vibrant. The colors and tones are right on the mark and there is little to no artifacting or grain. The sound mix is also solid, featuring a nice balance between the roaring battles and the Shakespearean dialogue. Both sound good and never does one tilt towards becoming drowned out or muted. The only downside is the extras... or lack thereof. We have a theatrical trailer. That's all.

In the end, if you love Shakespeare, or would just like to give it a try with a more updated feel, Richard III is definitely for you. McKellen's performance is dead on and this disc is also solid. Now may be the winter of our discontent, but this disc makes it feel like summer, glorious summer.

Brad Pilcher

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