johnlink ranks LOOKING FOR RICHARD (1996)

Been a long window between movies. Between working, writing and directing a show, and being home with Liz and Quinn, movies have sadly dropped off the radar for a bit. But I am coming out of that funk, starting with a documentary I’ve long wanted to see, LOOKING FOR RICHARD.

I watched LOOKING FOR RICHARD (1996) on 4.12.11. It was my first viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE

This is the documentary Al Pacino directed in the mid-90s dissecting the Shakespeare play RICHARD III. This is a unique documentary, in that about half of it is performance. The concept here is that Pacino, along with his peers, thinks the play is a tough one to access for audiences, and he wants to make it more understandable. We get a behind the scenes look at how actors and production staff break down the text, the historical context, and the choices within any given play.

As someone who is a huge fan of Shakesperian tragedies and comedies, but lacking in my knowledge of Shakesperian histories, this was a huge lesson in RICHARD III. Watching Pacino play the doomed King alongside a series of great actors (most notably Kevin Spacey) gave me an absolute grasp on the play.

As a documentary, this is as much about process as it is about the play. We see actors in rehearsal intercut with actors in ‘performance’. Some characters are played by multiple actors, and we often see the director (of RICHARD III, not Pacino) filling in for actors. Someone who is outside of the world of theater can absolutely get a feel for everything from research, to table work, to early rehearsal, to dress rehearsal, to performance. It’s a great lesson from that end as well.

I have to say that I loved this thing. I took lines from it to my actors because there were certainly things I learned as an actor and director from watching it. This is a documentary which has a high rewatchability factor for me. It won’t be long before I visit it again!



The bonus, oddly enough, is for acting. While I drop the ‘acting’ score for documentaries and replace it with the effectiveness the film realizes in relaying its message, I must say that the acting in this would be a 9 or 10 were it a straight drama, and not a documentary. Great stuff.



~ by johnlink00 on April 12, 2011.

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