Richard III (1912)

Certainly a film from a different time!

Apparently the lead actor of the film, Frederick Warde, would show up to screenings and read parts of the play while reels were changed, so viewing the film just by itself isn’t precisely the experience as intended.

Still, it holds up quite nicely. Warde gives a captivating performance as Richard III, embodying the physicality very well.

I quite liked how the film actually opened with scenes from Shakespeare’s “Henry VI, Part 3”. Not only did it provide information that colours some of the later action of the story quite interestingly, but it contextualises and frames the whole story differently. A silent film adaptation of Shakespeare seems a tricky proposition, given that words were…pretty important in his plays. But I like how it enabled creativity on behalf of the director, André Calmettes, and the death of Henry VI makes for a fine opening.


Apparently this is “the oldest surviving American feature-length film, and is also thought to be the first feature-length Shakespearean adaptation ever made”, according to Wikipedia at any rate, and it’s a great thing that such a monumental film is a captivating work in its own right. This particular edition has a 2001 score from Ennio Morricone, a fine addition. I give the film three and a half kingdoms, and a horse.

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