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Our interest in the parallels between King Richard III and Looking for Richard is further enhanced by
consideration of their marked differences in textual form.
Evaluate this statement in light of your comparative study of King Richard III and Looking for
A comparative study of the historical play King Richard III (circa. 1592) by William Shakespeare and the
documentary Looking for Richard (1996) by Al Pacino illuminates the intertextual connections of
fatalism and power. The differences in form between play and documentary, coupled with their
associated dramatic and filmic techniques, allows one to enhance their understanding of how these
connections between texts are influenced by the contexts and values of their composers. It becomes
apparent how the exploration of fatalism and power is able to transcend time and contextual
Shakespeares King Richard III focuses on the conflict between fatalism and self-determinism in
Richards struggle to seize power. In his Elizabethan context, Shakespeare subscribed to the dominant
and singular view that any disruption to the Great Chain of Being would have dire ramifications; and so a
necessary consequence of Richards determin*ation+ to prove a villain is his doom of destiny. This is
highlighted through foreshadowing in Margarets curse hurl down their indignation/ On thee, the
troubler of the poor worlds peace!.Furthermore the physiognomy and animalistic imagery of Richard
as that poisonous bunchbackd toad emphasizes his evil nature and the pre-ordained need for
punishment. In addition, Shakespeares demonizing of Richard in order to legitimize the Tudor reign,
also demonstrates the need for his pre-determined downfall so that Richmond could enjoy success and
happy victory. This can be seen in the rhetorical question shall we wear these honours for a day?
where even Richard predicts his own defeat, which is complemented by the five Act structure of the play
in that after the climax of Richard becoming king, all the falling action occurs very rapidly. Therefore,
through the skillful use of the play form in depicting his Elizabethan values, Shakespeare is able to
highlight the tension between Richards fatalistic downfall and his self-deterministic quest for power.
As a result of the increasing secularism and post-modernism in 1990s New York, Pacino becomes
concerned with a psychological analysis of Richards Machiavellian identity rather than a fatalistic
approach. This shift towards postmodern pluralistic values facilitates Pacinos purpose to communicate
how *he+ feels about Shakespeare to others, and highlights his collaboration with fellow actors and
academics, which contrasts with the singular view presented by Shakespeare. A deeper insight into
Richards motivations and reasons for his defeat as opposed to religious fatalism is shown throughthe
cross-cutting between actor discussions, rehearsals and full-costume scenes coupled with the voiceover
explanations of character and plot.In a more subtle sense Pacino himself, like the character he plays,
battles cultural imperialism and the great barrier to American actors arising from the seemingly
fatalistic way in which Shakespeare must be performed.This is demonstrated by Pacinos selective
editing in likening the analysis by British actor Vanessa Redgrave to that of an anonymous American
panhandler, which emphasizes Pacinos aim to destabilize the culturally imperialistic ownership of
Shakespeare by Britain. Therefore it can be seen how although Pacino forges a parallel to Shakespeare

through his depiction of Richard, it is ultimately his use of the documentary form that allows him to
reflect his more secularized and postmodern values.
Shakespeare illustratesthe power of language in King Richard III and the dichotomy between its use to
manipulate or inspire. Most significantly, Richard is portrayed as exploiting the power of language in
order to manipulate and deceive. His duplicitous nature is highlighted by the stichomythic exchanges
And thou unfit for any place but hell/ Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it/ Some dungeon/
Your bedchamber, whereby he uses his impressive oratory skills to woo the mourning Lady Anne.
Richard is therefore characterized as a plain devil *with+ dissembling looks, since Shakespeares
Elizabethan values dictated that lies well steeld with weighty arguments were attributed to the devil.
In contrast, Richmond is shown to be virtuous and holy in his use of language to inspire and motivate
his army to overthrow Richard. Shakespeare further justifies the Tudor reign through the heavenly
imagery in Richmonds speech such as God will in justice ward you as his soldiers, which aligns
Richmond with God, and therefore also attributes to him the Divine Right of Kings. Hence, Shakespeare
demonstrates the power of language in relation to its ability to both manipulate and inspire.
Similar to Shakespeare, Pacinoemphasizes the power of language in Looking for Richard, but adapts it
to his 1990s American society where Shakespeares language has largely lost its meaning among
everyday people. Pacino appreciates the power of language but filters his vision so that Shakespeare
[becomes] a little more accessible to people, and in doing so truncates much of the original dialogue
and relies on filmic techniques to bridge the gap. His belief that you shouldnt have to understand
every single word and that as long as you get the gist of it is indicative of his post-modern
interpretation, which is evidenced by the wooing of Lady Anne, where Pacino condenses Richards
soliloquy to just its first three lines and instead uses close-ups, tracking shots, and an increase in the
volume of the non-diegetic music to emphasize his satisfaction and duplicitous nature.Furthermore,
Pacinos use of a non-linear structure that is primarily driven by character and plot draws focus away
from the confusing fancy words in each of Shakespeares original scenes, and instead encourages a
more generalized understanding of Shakespeare that is more germane in the highly secularized 1990s
American society. Thus it can be seen how Pacino adapts the power of language in Shakespeares
original text through documentary in order to promote an appreciation of Shakespeare in his postmodern context.
Hence we are able to better acknowledge the parallels of fatalism and power in Shakespeares history
play King Richard III and Pacinos documentary Looking for Richard through careful comparison of
textual forms and contexts. Although Shakespeares belief in the Great Chain of Being and desire to
justify the Tudor reign greatly influenced his use of the play form to depict the struggle between fatalism
and self-determinism as well as the power of language and the role of the actor, we see this same
theme re-emerging with Pacino who held more secularized and postmodern values. This transcending of
context therefore demonstrates how both Shakespeare and Pacino skillfully use their respective textual
forms to enhance our understanding.