"Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York."
- Richard III (Laurence Olivier)
"A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"
- Richard III
Entertainment Weekly - 07/08/1994
"...[A] cult reputation....Olivier's directorial decisions are intriguing..." -- Rating: B+
USA Today - 07/08/1994
"...[Olivier's] greatest Shakespearean movie..."
Entertainment Weekly - 03/05/2004
"[Olivier] revels in his eloquence yet remains deliciously wicked."
Premiere - 05/01/2004
"With its stylized medieval sets and vivid Technicolor, this 1955 film stands out as the strangest and most imaginative of director-star Laurence Olivier's three great Shakespeare adaptations..."
Amid the Wars of the Roses in England, ruling monarch Edward IV's lame, misshapen brother Richard schemes to ascend the throne. Richard turns the king against their other brother, the Duke of Clarence, who is imprisoned for treason, then arranges for Clarence's murder. He then woos the Lady Anne, determined to wed her to increase his influence. When Edward finally dies, Richard plots the murders of the young heir apparent and his brother--his own nephews. His machinations accelerate and murder piles atop murder as Richard succeeds in taking the throne--and desperately tries to hold it. Laurence Olivier's classic protrayal of the ambitious, calculating man reveals both his wickedness and his unshakable strength. The lush photography and widescreen format do the elaborate battle scenes justice.
Following his triumphant screen versions of Henry V and Hamlet, director, producer, and star Laurence Olivier assembled a stunning cast (including Ralph Richardson, John Gielgud, and Claire Bloom) for a grand realization of Richard III, produced by Alexander Korda. A Technicolor and widescreen spectacle full of intimate, diabolical drama, this is one of the quintessential Shakespearean film adaptations.
In one of the finest roles of his illustrious career, Sir Laurence Olivier plays the part of Richard of Gloucester, the demented nobleman who schemed to ascend to the throne of England. Olivier also directed this marvelous film version of Shakespeare's play.
Essential Cinema |
Period Piece |
Stage Play |
Shot in the Spanish countryside and at Shepperton Studios in England.
During filming, Olivier took an arrow through the calf when a marksman missed his target. He finished the scene before calling for assistance.
Shakespeare's brilliant play does take liberties with historical fact: It has never been conclusively proved that Richard III was either a hunchback or the murderer of the two young princes imprisoned in the tower. The king who unseated Richard III was Henry VII--the grandfather of Elizabeth I, the ruling queen during Shakespeare's lifetime. It would have been to his political advantage to paint Richard in as bad a light as possible....
Olivier was knighted in 1947, made a peer of the realm in 1970, and in 1971 was given a seat in the House of Lords.