Throughout my comparative study of texts and context, I have explored various connections shared between William Shakespeare’s ‘Richard the 3rd’ and Al Pacino’s ‘Looking for Richard’. As both of these items are based on the same character, King Richard the 3rd, they share a lot in common. The connection that I have chosen to concentrate on though is the idea of power, and how both texts explore this theme.
William Shakespeare is an extremely famous English poet and playwright and widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. He was most prominent in the years 1585-1592 writing 38 plays. Richard 3rd is considered to be one of his greatest plays and was written in 1591 depicting the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of King Richard the 3rd. During this time period Queen Elizabeth the 1st the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty was in power.
Many people believe that Shakespeare over embellished the character of Richard making him into more of a monster than he actually was as he was a Lancaster mortal enemies to Tudors. This point needs to be taken into consideration as the play is potentially bias to keep the queen happy. I have chosen to concentrate on the theme of power throughout the play as Richard, considered to be a heinous monster with physical deformities and a black soul, lies and murders his way to the throne, depicting his driving force for power.
This is evident through his remarks in act 1 scene 1 as he says “and therefore, since I cannot prove a lover, to entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain and hate the idle pleasures of these days. ” This quote shows how he is not made for love due to his deformities so he will become a villain who hates all the pleasures of these days. Both King Richard and Al Pacino share the same power hungry personality as they want to become the best also looking at themselves in this way.
I say this because in Act 2 Scene 1 when Lady Anne is mourning the death of her beloved Edward, Richard rudely interrupts this precession At the start of this scene lady Anne is extremely hostile towards him calling Richard the devil even spitting on him, Richard seduces her and manages to turn her emotions around with the scene ending with Anne agreeing to marry him. Richard then gloats over his success in a soliloquy stating how he has won her heart even though he is regarded by her as the devil with dissembling looks and he stabbed Edward her love just 3 months earlier.
This highlights how he thinks of himself as the best as he brags about his misdeeds as though he is immortal. Al Pacinos Looking for Richard is a failed movie attempt of Richard 3rd turned documentary produced, directed and acted in by the man himself. This same theme of power is evident throughout Al Pacino ‘Looking for Richard’ as he wants to establish himself as the definitive American Shakespeare actor and achieve greatness. I say this because all throughout history American actors have been too afraid to act Shakespeare as it has traditionally been English done, but Pacino strives to prove this wrong.
All throughout ‘looking for Richard’ a documentary directed by and starring Al Pacino he is made to seem on another level to anybody else. This is highlighted by Fredrick Kimball, who is also directing the movie says with great passion ‘You know more about Richard the 3rd than any other fucking scholar at Columbia or Harvard’ By Kimball saying this pacino is instantly placed on a higher level than all of the scholars studying Shakespeare at arguably the best colleges in the world.
This is potentially purposely done to highlight how Pacino really is the best American Shakespeare actor and should be compared to the greats This technique of placing Pacino on a higher level is also used all throughout the documentary as the interviews with various scholars who obviously know what they are talking about are edited in such a way to make them seem stupid and not know what they are talking about.
This technique is effective in making Pacino seem smarter than people who have studied Shakespeare their whole life and shows the predominantly American audience that Americans can act Shakespeare Both Richard the 3rd and Al Pacino use driving tones as there is no play without Richard and no documentary without Pacino which effectively gives them power.
They both use this power to their advantage, as Richard uses his power to get what he wants and to become king, and Pacino uses his power to outline that he is the definitive American Shakespeare actor. Throughout my exploration of both of these texts I have managed to make a comparison between Richard 3rd and Al Pacino through their driving force to become the best and to hold power.