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Looking for Richard

A cast devoutly to be wished. Al Pacino has taken over the role of director (with Frederic Kimball at his side for some very wise advice and even wiser friendly chastisement) in the investigation of 'King Richard.' You know, that play by the revered Englishman from half a millennium ago about the humpbacked nasty man? So, thinks Al, let's make this play accessible for the general public as well as going on a voyage of discovery ourselves. And that is what makes the film so very enjoyable and fascinating.

The public is given an insight into what Shakespeare is about, what acting is about, what politics is about, what greed is about, what human nature is about, and, at the same time, have some philosophy, adventure, and history thrown in. All this makes for a good day's work (or perhaps a little longer). Some people might have well worried about the 10 roles of film that were still available when they wrapped, unbeknownst to Pacino. After all, if the work has been in progress for 400 years, why stop now?

A wonderful montage takes us back and forth between discussions, rehearsal sessions, costumed acting on location, analyses by both actors and scholars, heated debates between friends, contemporary reflections by those involved in the development and remarks from the 'man on the street.' Billy would've loved it.

Included among the cavalcade of stars are Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Allen, Gordon MacDonald, Estelle Parsons, Kevin Conway, Winona Ryder, Aidan Quinn, F. Murray Abraham, Joyce Ebert, Paul Gleason, Viveca Lindfors, Heathcote Williams and Pacino himself (as Richard), of course. Try to get that cast on stage. Among the others seen and heard are Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Kline, James Earl Jones, Rosemary Harris, Peter Brook, Derek Jacobi, John Gielgud and Vanessa Redgrave. Try to get that cast on stage too.

This should be mandatory viewing in high schools. A hell of a lot better than force-feeding 'Julius Caesar' as they do for 8th graders in New York schools (at least as far as I recall). A lot of people might stop saying, 'I can't understand what they're talking about,' or, 'it's boring.' I don't know about you, but I think it's breathtaking.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett