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An in-depth look at William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of King Richard III, Looking for Richard sees Al Pacino star as both himself and the conniving King who manipulated his way to the power in a docu/drama which serves to shed light on the mystery that surrounds one of Shakespeare's most performed plays. Interweaving interviews with fellow actors and academic experts, rehearsal footage, as well as acting out key scenes from the play, Pacino battles on the stage and on the streets to make Shakespeare's work more accessible to the general public.

Review by Craig Miller:
Part English Literature lecture, part interview feature, part behind-the-scenes documentary, Al Pacino's labour of love, Looking for Richard, sees the sublimely talented actor wearing star, director, writer, producer and narrator hats in an effort to communicate his passion for William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of King Richard III and bring it out of the hard-to-read shadows and into the light of better understanding.

It's not an easy task to deliver a project that is as entertaining as it is informative, but Pacino, along with cohort Frederic Kimball, deal with the complexities of Shakespeare's most performed play with dramatic flair and deep understanding.

In a quest to educate the general public and make the great works of ol' Bill Shakespeare more accessible, Pacino trots the halls of academia, questions his fellow thespians and walks the big city streets grilling the public to uncover the truth and subtleties behind Shakespeare's work, and the result is a film that could be at home as much in a drama/english lit. classroom as it would in your local multiplex or DVD store.

Pacino communicates his passion for the subject matter well; the tale of King Richard is not an easy one to fully grasp with its numerous characters and intricate melodramatic storylines and, as a guide to understanding the plot and the main characters' motivations, it delivers.

The film's high energy editing sees the action cut between scenes from "Richard III" (which have been staged for the film), interview footage with actors and scholars about the play itself and rehearsal footage. And while it does promote confusion in the early stages of proceedings, overall the technique allows Pacino a freedom to let the doco, and a superficial understanding of the play, evolve at the same time.

Even though Pacino wants to encourage a deeper understanding of the bard's work, in particular this doco's focus of Richard III, watching him you can't help but feel that he is willing to settle for people being able to describe the work of Shakespeare in words with more than one syllable and to hear the general public spout off a couple of well-worn lines.

There is no doubting Al Pacino's passion for the works of William Shakespeare - a docu/drama about the themes and ideals behind Shakespeare's most performed yet least understood play is hardly light subject matter in which to delve. But, in watching this cinematic equivalent of cliff notes, you can't shake the feeling that Looking for Richard is more a behind-the-scenes look at the art of performance rather than the 'Shakespeare accessible tool for the general public' it continually professes to be.

Published March 10, 2005

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(US, 1996)

CAST: Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Aidan Quinn, Winona Ryder, Kenneth Branagh


SCRIPT: Narration by: Al Pacino & Frederic Kimball. Based on William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Richard the Third.

RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen 1.85:1 16:9, Dolby Digital 5.1


DVD DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: February 7, 2005

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