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Richard III is a 1995 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play of the same name, starring Ian McKellen, Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Robert Downey Jr., Nigel Hawthorne, Kristin Scott Thomas, Dame Maggie Smith, John Wood and Dominic West.

The film relocates the play's events to a fictional version of England in what appears to be a fascist-inspired 1930s. Despite some anachronisms, the film's atmosphere is easily recognizable to viewers.


The film's concept was based on a stage production directed by Richard Eyre for the Royal National Theatremarker, which also starred McKellen. The production was adapted for the screen by McKellen and directed by Richard Loncraine.

The film is notable for its unconventional use of famous English landmarks, often using special effects to move them to new locations. The transformed landmarks used include the following:

Perhaps the play's most famous line—"A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"—was recontextualised by the new setting; during the climactic battle, Richard's scout car becomes stuck, and his lament is cast as a plea for a mode of transport with legs rather than wheels.

The closing shot of Richard III
In a surprising ending, where Richard refuses to be captured and leaps down to his death with the "wrong" closing line "Let us to't pell-mell; if not to heaven, then hand-in-hand to hell", his falling into the inferno is followed by the eerily upbeat tune I'm Sitting On The Top Of The World (Ray Henderson, Joe Young and Sam Lewis) in the classic version sung by Al Jolson.

The film enlarges the role of the Duchess of York considerably by combining her character with that of Queen Margaret. The roles of Rivers, Grey and Vaughan are combined into Rivers. The death scenes are shown rather than implied as in the play, and changed to suit the time (Hastings is hanged rather than beheaded) or historical accuracy (Clarence is drowned in a bath instead of a wine barrel). Each character's pre-death monologues is also removed, except that of Clarence.


  • Academy Awards
    • Art Direction
    • Costume Design

    • Best British Film
    • Best Actor - Ian McKellen
    • Adapted Screenplay
    • Best Costumes - WON
    • Best Production Design - WON



  1. Ian McKellen Richard III photo gallery

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