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Looking for Richard

Audiences 400 years from now might not remember today's well-known film and stage characters, just as people who see "Richard III," Shakespeare's most-often performed play these days, can sort out the family tree Richard climbs up so he can take the crown. "Who knows all the characters?' Pacino exclaims. Witty commentary illustrates the difficulties of performing Shakespeare, but Pacino is respectful, even loving toward the work, telling us a great deal about King Richard, Shakespeare, and putting on his plays. Pacino and the other actors perform about 25% of the play, mainly for discussion, as this film illustrates how to act and produce Shakespeare, and documents an actor in love with his craft, brimming with curiosity and good humor. The camera follows Pacino for months as he discusses "Richard III' in workshops, Central Park, coffee shops, and at Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon. Other actors in the ongoing seminar include Winona Ryder; she works with Pacino in a shocking scene: Richard murders Anne's husband, then proposes marriage as she takes the body to the grave. Getting used to Shakespeare's words, and seeing stage and film of his work, helps any intelligent person appreciate him as the greatest author, but he's an acquired taste. A wonderful thing is that many of his characters might agree. ((Pacino conducts the film with running commentary, as he discusses line readings, does street interviews, and acknowledges that a problem with Shakespeare's history plays is that the characters - who were as familiar the Elizabethans as stars of today are to us - are largely unknown to modern Americans.
Appreciating Shakespeare is an ongoing project for any literate person, which teaches us history. We eventually see his majesty, humor, sadness, insight, and wisdom. "Looking for Richard' is the portrait of a man and his friends who, having chosen to be actors, know their their craft must embrace its greatest writer. This film is an inspiring delight.
Director(s): Al Pacino
Writer(s): Al Pacino
Cast: e Alec Baldwin, Estelle Parsons, Aidan Quinn, John Gielgud, Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Spacey,
Release Date: 1995   
Keyword: Struggles for power; Shakespeare; staging a play; introducin
Target Age: 13+   Category: institutional issues
Documentary: yes
Language: English   Reviewer's Name: Micah
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