Déjà Vu: Motifs of Hitler in Richard III(1995) and How They Help Modern Audience to Understand Shakespeare’s Richard

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It is not terribly odd to see directors adapt Shakespearian plays to a different era. In fact, contemporary elements in films like Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet and the most recent Much Ado About Nothing by Joss Whedon have definitely bring valuable new readings to the text. Embracing this trend, Richard III (1995) by Richard Loncraine shifts its background to 1930s Britain. Starring Ian McKellen as Richard, the movie makes an undeniable connection to Nazi Germany; very details include costume design, set and prop, and cinematography choices all closely relate Richard to Hitler, an equivalent villain from modern history. The choice of blending Hitler into Richard puts viewers now into the shoes of audience from Shakespeare’s time to…show more content…
“The staging itself reminded the audience of how fascists use such panoramas: […] Hitler at the Nazi Party Conference at Nuremberg in 1934 as reevoked in the monumental Triumph of the Will” (Crowl, 53). The huge red scrolls and banners with Richard’s badge of boar, the vast crowd waving red flags, all these imageries created by Richard Loncraine echo the past “glory” of Hitler when he convinced tamed German citizens with his mouth. Lady Anne is just another victim of Richard’s wooing tactic. In this version of Richard III, Anne is portrayed as a stunning young widow with no more faith in life. She dress in high fashion, frequently smokes cigarettes, injecting drugs, wearing scarlet nail prints when crying over her newly died husband’s corpse like the red comes from his blood. Several professionals associate the proposal scene took place in morgue with certain sexual impulse, indicating Ian McKellen’s Richard as a Casanova. For example, Professor Samuel Crowl sees a delicate strip performance: “McKellen managed to undress his upper body with one hand. Off came the greatcoat, then the leather strap over his military tunic supporting the belt from which his sword hung, then the buttons of his tunic as he dropped to his knees, offering Anne his bright sword and his mocking heart in the same instant.” Like Lady Anne, it is hard for audience to deny this romance within danger. As McKellen’s Richard shedding his

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