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With: Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Estelle Parsons, Winona Ryder, Aidan Quinn, F. Murray Abraham, Dominic Chianese, Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Kline, James Earl Jones, Rosemary Harris, Peter Brook, Derek Jacobi, John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave
Written by: Al Pacino, Frederic Kimball, based on a play by William Shakespeare
Directed by: Al Pacino
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong languge and some scenes of violence
Running Time: 112
Date: 01/01/1996

Looking for Richard (1996)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Brushing Up His Shakespeare

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Al Pacino directed this fun documentary about preparing for and performing William Shakespeare's Richard III. I say "fun," because Pacino is such an energetic person to hang around with, and that's mostly what we're doing; hanging out with Pacino and discussing Shakespeare.

The movie operates on the basis that hardly anyone really understands the play Richard III. So Pacino and his crew run around trying to figure it out. They talk to people on the street, English scholars, and Shakespearian actors such as John Gielgud, Kenneth Branagh, Peter Brook and Vanessa Redgrave. They have round table bull sessions with other actors, trying to figure out the plot and characters. Edited in and around these scenes is the finished play, with Pacino in the role of Richard.

The play works, but it is not spectacular. Mostly this is because we have very recently seen Ian McKellen as Richard III in last year's movie. Pacino is wonderful, but doesn't hold a candle to McKellen, whom many consider the definitive Richard. Pacino's version also stars Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Adian Quinn, and inexplicably, Winona Ryder.

The best part is the documentary. Looking for Richard as a whole will work for students who are being exposed to Shakespeare for the first time; or if you're just a plain old die hard Al Pacino fan. Apparently, Pacino spent ten years working on this film. It's a true labor of love and one of the high points in his distinguished career.

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