Making the Grades
A documentary! My kingdom for a documentary!
I love "docs," and this one leaves the audience with an incredible viewing experience that entertains as much as it teaches about film making, casting a live play, and last but surely not least, the intricacies of Shakespeare's Richard III. Here Al Pacino is the main man, as he acts, acts up, coordinates players, and embarks on his film directing career, all in front of the lens.
Having recently reviewed the latest version of Romeo and Juliet, it is impossible to not compare these two projects. Both share the same ultimate purpose: To help make Shakespeare interesting and relevant to modern audiences. While the false notion of Romeo And Juliet was that violence and popular music would help make the Bard's prose more palatable, Pacino instead uses his incredible excitement and love of Shakespeare to help plant his passions deep within all those who view his film. The frame for his enthusiasm is showing us what happens behind the scenes of a Shakespearian drama.
Dancing through the documentary like a road show entertainer, Pacino introduces his characters at just the right pace so even the most green around the Globe viewers can keep up. Intercutting between cast rehearsals, the final performance, and accidentally triggering fire alarms, Pacino cracks open the mental dungeon that holds the secrets to Richard III and enjoying Shakespeare. By showing us what motivates the characters' actions, the whole murky mass becomes amazingly clear, and Pacino leaves you thirsting to read the entire play.
Three sexual expletives, along with a few other minor words, and two occasions of graphic violence will mean that some may want to take a look at this before presenting it to a family or class. But even with this content, the film is still well worth viewing, especially with Pacino's honest wit. If you desire to understand Shakespeare's works better, you owe it to yourself to begin Looking for Richard at your video store.