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Comparing and Contrasting Richard Iii with Its Film Adaptation

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The 1995 film Richard III follows the plot and script of the original play very closely, but is quite different in its setting. While the play takes place in the 1400s, this film is set in the 1930s. As such, many differences in aesthetic are to be assumed. The characters wear modern clothing and technology is up to date: Men wear suits and ties, women wear modern dresses; rather than horses people rely on cars, trains and planes for transportation; rather than lute players people listen to phonographs; rather than battles being fought with lances, bow and arrows and swords on horseback, soldiers are armed with guns and command tanks.

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Strangely enough, despite the presence of a Prime Minister in the film there still exists a royal rule, implying that the film is set in a Fascist state. In fact, the garments of the king and his men are reminiscent of Nazi general uniforms. Quite a bit of the script was cut from the film, including nearly the entirely of acts two and three.

Presumably this was to keep the film’s runtime from becoming overlong, and as such a few scenes were reassembled.

For example, the original play begins with Richard’s speech describing Warwick’s assassination and his brother, Edward IV’s ascension to the throne, while the film begins with an actual depiction of the assassination, with Richard’s speech following shortly thereafter. The speech, incidentally, is partially recited before a crowd rather than entirely in private as in the play. This treatment also occurs with the scenes depicting Richard’s hiring of Tyrrell and his accusing Elizabeth of convincing her husband the king to arrest his and Richard’s brother Clarence.

In the play Richard hiring Tyrrell to murder Clarence is followed by his accusing Elizabeth; in the film, they are reversed. In the play, we eventually learn that Stanley’s loyalty lies with Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond and intends to betray Richard. This is foreshadowed early in the play when Stanley assures Elizabeth that his wife, the countess Richmond, does not hate her, implying that he is loyal to the House of Tudor. This scene is omitted in the film, perhaps to avoid giving away future events and build suspense. Several characters were reformed and blended in the film.

In the script, when Richard conspires to have Clarence killed he hires two nameless assassins. The film has him hiring Tyrrell at this point to do the job, who ultimately commits the crime of murdering Clarence with the help of a jailer in the tower. Similarly, the character of Queen Margaret is omitted entirely and some of her lines are spoken by the Duchess of York. This was likely done to do away with unnecessary characters and help the film to flow better. In the Duchess of York’s case it solidifies her hatred for her own son, as it is she who tells Elizabeth how to curse Richard rather than Queen Margaret.

The methods of assassination were altered: Rather than being stabbed and drowned in a vat of wine by the nameless murderers, Clarence has his throat slit and is drowned in a bathtub by Tyrrell and the jailer; rather than being arrested and beheaded, Rivers is stabbed in his bed by Tyrrell; and Hastings is hanged by Tyrrell on Richard’s orders rather than being arrested and executed on the charge of treason. These last two changes add drama to the plot in that they were conspired murders rather than legal arrests and executions. One minor change was that of Stanley and Richmond’s relationship.

In the play they were stepfather and stepson, while in the film they were rewritten as uncle and nephew, perhaps to make them seem closer as blood relatives as well as brothers in arms. Richmond also gained an added scene which was not in the original script and which depicts his marriage to Elizabeth’s daughter, whom Richard hoped would be his queen. This furthers the implication that Elizabeth was stalling for time when she told Richard that she would speak to her daughter about becoming queen and tell him of her decision. This ultimately led to Richmond’s army’s attack on Richard.

Richard’s death was altered from being defeated in combat by Richmond to committing suicide just before being slain. This serves to paint him as a coward as he is seen attempting to flee before Richmond catches up with him rather than fighting to the death. Richard is very much like any other tyrant, then or today. Tyrants do not love themselves, they despise themselves; no one follows them out of loyalty, only out of fear; they come to power via murder, betrayal, deceit, and manipulation. A just leader is loved by his followers, trusts them and is trusted by them; a tyrant is loved by no one, is trusts no one, and is trusted by no one.

Cite this Comparing and Contrasting Richard Iii with Its Film Adaptation

Comparing and Contrasting Richard Iii with Its Film Adaptation. (2016, Oct 30). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/comparing-and-contrasting-richard-iii-with-its-film-adaptation/

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