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Richard Iii And Looking For Richard Connections

962 words - 4 pages

To explore connections between texts is to heighten understanding of humanity’s progressing values and the underlying relevant themes that continue to engage societies regardless of context. William Shakespeare’s King Richard III (1592) (RIII) and Al Pacino’s docudrama Looking for Richard (1996) (LFR) demonstrate how opinion is created through comparative study, both explore the struggle for power within differing contexts to determine the duplicity of humanity. Ultimately, despite the divergent eras of composition and textual form, these connections expose the relevant social commentaries of their composers, highlighting innately human values, which remain constant.
Shakespeare’s portrayal of power reflects the conflicting influences of Medieval Morality plays and Renaissance literature during the Tudor period, demonstrating that the text is a reflection of contextual beliefs. The Third Citizen’s submission to a monotheistic deity in the pathetic fallacy of “The water swell before a boisterous storm – but leave it all to God” qualifies the theological determinism of power due to the rise of Calvinism. Pacino embodies Richard’s desire for royalty in LFR through the emphasis on celebrity culture, as he is determined to film himself in close-up, which although emphasizes the importance of Pacino, leaves out the broader scene. Soliloquies are substituted with breaches in the fourth wall, and his metatheatrical aside to the audience “I love the silence… whatever I’m saying, I know Shakespeare said it”, subverts the cultural boundaries which, deter contemporary American actors in performing Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s breach of the iambic pentameter in “Chop off his head…And when I’m king” strengthens the Renaissance influence, as Richard assumes the throne regardless of the divine right of kings. With the juxtaposition of “seeming the saint” as Richard “most plays the devil”, Shakespeare depicts Machiavellian principles, which reinforces how a text is product of the composer’s period.
LFR’s depiction of power features notably less prominent religious undertones, as Pacino reshapes the play’s contextual values to support an increasingly irreligious late 20th century America. However the didactic voiceover “I think Americans have been made to feel inhibited because they’ve been told so long…that they cannot do Shakespeare. Therefore, they’ve got it in heads that they can’t.” establishes how Elizabethan theocracy is substituted by a perceived inability of American actors to employ the subtle distinctions of Shakespeare. A static mid shot of Sir John Gielgud emphasizes the widespread familiarity of such Deterministic compliance, stating, “they don’t go to picture galleries and read books as much as we do”, as Pacino recontextualizes religious power to contemporary cultural pompous, displaying how texts are shaped by their context. Furthermore, Shakespeare’s zoomorphic depiction of Richard through Queen Margaret as a “bunch back’d toad” demonstrates the...

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