Proof positive that all you really need to make movie nowadays is a video camera, access to some digital editing equipment and a script that's been in the pubic domain for a few centuries a Shakespeare play, for instance. Talent is a little harder to come by, but what director John Farrell's (admirable) attempt to stage Richard II lacks in that department this is a far cry from the Royal Shakespeare Company, but that shouldn't necessarily be held against its hardworking young cast it certainly makes up for in ambition. The play, the first of the Bard's great "Henriad," chronicles the deposition of one king, Richard II, and the ascension of another, Henry IV. The wasteful and irresponsible Richard (Matte Osian) has been footing the bill for his extravagances by leasing out chunks of Britain. As the play opens, he's mediating between two very angry dukes, Bolingbroke (Barry Smith), Duke of Hereford, and Mowbray (Tom Turbiville), Duke of Norfolk. Bolingbroke has accused Mowbray of every sort of treason under the sun, including badmouthing the king, while Mowbray demands an opportunity to prove his loyalty and defend his honor. After a brief duel, Richard decides to banish them both, sparing the nation civil grief and freeing up Bolingbroke's confiscated estate to finance Richard's impending war with Ireland. What Richard doesn't count on is Bolingbroke's attachment to England and his property. As soon as Richard leaves for the north, Bolingbroke returns with an army to lay claim not only to what's rightfully his, but to the crown as well. Despite the preponderance of pregnant pauses and the tendency among the actors to stare off into distant space while delivering their lines, the cast for the most part manages to pull it off. Farrell, however, is merciless in his abridgement of the play: Deleting the dying John of Gaunt's moving "this Earth, this realm, this England" speech from Richard II is a little like robbing Hamlet of its "To be, or not to be" soliloquy. As a consequence, several of the play's key themes and subtle ambiguities of character are erased. Farrell uses the extra time to stage unnecessary pop-gun battles and endless scenes of raggedy troops in mismatched uniforms trudging along dirt paths. It's a strange choice, given that Farrell didn't have the budget to make any of this footage look good, and it's done at the expense of some of the most beautiful language ever written.
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: NR
- Review: Proof positive that all you really need to make movie nowadays is a video camera, access to some digital editing equipment and a script that's been in the pubic domain for a few centuries a Shakespeare play, for instance. Talent is a little harder t… (more)