Richard III

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -1 1/2

This modernized version of Shakespeare's RICHARD III is confusing in its attempt to bridge the gap between the centuries, the Elizabethan language, and the English monarchy. Instead of being set in Shakespearean times, the film takes place in 1930's London. Hunch-backed Richard (Ian McKellen), a brother of Edward VI, the reigning monarch of England, uses every trick of deceit to remove all standing in his way of gaining the throne. While Edward (John Wood) is dying, Richard has another brother, Clarence (Nigel Hawthorne), killed while he is imprisoned in the Tower of London. In succession, Richard has Lord Rivers, Lord Grey, and Sir Thomas Vaughan all imprisoned, then executed. He even kills the two young princes, Elizabeth's sons, and plans to marry Elizabeth (Annette Bening), Edward's widow. Only Richmond of York is left to claim the throne. To Shakespeare's credit, justice finally prevails. Outstanding performances are not enough to save this film from being too confusing to satisfy an astute viewer and leaves the casual viewer in the dark.

One of Shakespeare's bloodiest tragedies, RICHARD III contains graphic violence. The film opens with a bang as commandos break through a wall and kill the room's occupants. From this adrenaline-charged beginning, every other scene seems either to hint at murder or to show one. A man's throat is slit while he bathes in a particularly gory scene, and watching the young princes suffocated is extremely disturbing. The fiery final battle scene features explosions that kill and destroy buildings and vehicles. Richard's hideous on-screen death shows him set on fire, then falling to his death amid flames. Sexual content is rather subdued, although sex is implied when Richmond marries Lady Anne. In that scene her nude profile is shown briefly. One positive aspect of this R-rated movie is that foul language is limited to only two moderate crudities with no profanities or obscenities. Nevertheless, the graphic, bloody murders on-screen become the focus as Hollywood attempts to make a classic piece of literature appeal to mainstream America.

Preview Reviewer: Bonnie C. Harvey, Ph.D.
MGM/UA , 1111 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90021

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Twice - Moderate

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: Several times - Moderate and Severe (graphic scene of commandos breaking through wall, killing occupants; morgue scene of woman viewing corpse; man's throat slit in bathtub; man and two boys suffocated; massive property destruction in explosion; man set on fire falls to death)

Sex: Implied once with brief side female nudity (married couple)

Nudity: Once (brief side female)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Some smoking and drinking

Other: Richard has nightmarish premonition of his demise in a dream; Richmond has sweet dreams before the battle

Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Adults

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