Comparing Themes

Week 8

What did I do?

Started a Table of Themes

The themes shared and addressed by both Shakespeare’s Richard III  and Al Pacino’s Looking for Richard, are looked at differently due to their varying perspectives.

For example, each text’s portrayal of the historical figure, Richard III, varies by:

Film: Convey’s Richard’s character through Al Pacino relating to Shalespeare’s character. The origin of the character and the War of Roses is explained at the beginning of the film and the rest of the film is a process of Pacino drawing inspiration from the text and from the circumstances of Richard. He embraces what he believe’s Richard’s mind was like, shown as the film cuts between Pacino and Pacino performing Richard’s soliloquys.

Play: Richard’s evil nature is conveyed through soliloquys, where he describes his deformity, his opinion and his plans. Here he reveals himself to the audience, while hiding his nature from the other characters, even if they are on the stage with him. He is seen as the villain only; he is not to be empathised with as he is, simply, the enemy.

His ‘deformity’ however, is portrayed by both texts, as a symbol of his corruption.

The values shared by both texts include:

  • Honesty:
    • There is a lot of deceit throughout the play, as Richard manipulates and uses the people around him and as the people go behind his back in words and deeds.
    • Al Pacino in the film reveals the more personal side of acting, through connecting with the character and developing as a person as well as an actor through playing such a role.
  • Integrity:
    • Richmond is portrayed as righteous in opposition to Richard’s satanic characterisation.
    • The actors of Looking for Richard strive to represent the characters as fully and deeply as possible, seen when the actress for Queen Elizabeth emotionally argues her interpretation of her character and the way in which she is to be portrayed by herself.
  • Loyalty:
    • Benefits and repercussions of loyalty (to Richmond and Richard) in the play.
    • Pacino’s dedication to a pure representation of Shakespeare’s play in the film.
  • Compassion:
    • Richard’s sheer lack of empathy in the play.
    • The actors in the film are shown empathising with their characters.
  • Justice:
    • The rightful rule of Richmond (Henry VII) and the begin of the Tudor rule represented in the play.
    • Richard’s death and the end of the production of the play in the film, satisfaction of their accomplishment.
  • Power:
    • Richard’s thirst for power in the play, ridding himself of all obstructions to the throne. Yet, this power corrupts his thinking and skill, when faced with a need for great leadership, Richard panicks and brings forth his defeat by weakening himself for Richmond.
    • Pacino’s self-appointment of authority in the film, associating himself with the roles of director, actor, character and even scholar – he acts as one in authority to speak on behalf of Shakespeare, despite actual scholar’s beliefs.


Image: Richard Mansfield as Richard III (late 19th century). London Stereoscopic Company, photographer. London [England: 1889 or 1890] 



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