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Richard III 15 rating

Ian McKellen and Richard Loncraine’s bold restaging transplants Shakespeare’s play to an imagined 1930s fascist Britain.

Drama 1996 104 mins

Director: Richard Loncraine



In one of the most bold and imaginative adaptations of Shakespeare to reach the screen, the 16th-century drama is relocated to imagined 1930s fascist Britain, with Ian McKellen’s vicious performance presenting the sheer embodiment of evil.

Co-written by McKellen with director Richard Loncraine, the reworking is notable for the detail applied to its vision of alternate reality, in which British history is intermingled with Nazi iconography and famous London landmarks are reimagined - or occasionally even relocated (Battersea Power Station is transplanted to the Kentish coast). With an all-star cast including Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Robert Downey Jr., Nigel Hawthorne, Kristin Scott Thomas and Maggie Smith, this is stunningly cinematic translation of the powerful National Theatre production upon which it’s based; but it’s McKellen’s transfixing performance that captures its black heart.