Looking for Richard

Director: Al Pacino
Screenwriters: Al Pacino

Institute History


Al Pacino’s Looking for Richard is an extraordinary and unique feature film which both presents Richard III by William Shakespeare (complete with an exceptional cast and certainly singular settings) while also scrutinizing, dissecting, questioning, even criticizing it at every level. Part personal quest, part analysis, mostly performance, it is a work which manages to be both insightful and oblique, serious and funny, as well as an engrossing and entertaining study of the artistic process. As Pacino himself has argued, Shakespeare has lost much of his contemporary relevance for the vast majority; most people would identify the bard as being of interest only to academics. In an effort to open up his work, and focusing on Richard III, Pacino comments, “By juxtaposing ordinary people with the actors and their characters in the play, we attempted to create a kind of comic mosaic, showing Shakespeare in a way that has not been seen before.”

What results is basically fascinating. It does indeed create real insight into both Shakespeare and the issues surrounding the performance of his plays. Looking for Richard is both an ambitious quest and a startlingly satisfying theatrical experience that ranges from the Globe Theatre to the street. Pacino and his collaborators explore what can be viewed as arcane but in his loving, even obsessive, hands is a thoroughly memorable experience.

Pacino’s performance as Richard is absolutely riveting, even though we only see segments of it. Joined by Winona Ryder as Lady Anne, Alec Baldwin as Clarence, Aidan Quinn as Richmond, Kevin Spacey as Buckingham, and Estelle Parsons as Queen Margaret, with comments and appearances by a host of others, Pacino really does give new meaning and perhaps new life to what is a very complicated story and play. I doubt that anyone who ever hears “ A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse” will ever understand it quite the same way again.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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