Looking for Richard (1996) - Rotten Tomatoes

Looking for Richard1996

Looking for Richard (1996)



Critic Consensus: Looking for Richard is a smart, fascinating behind-the-scenes look at adapting Shakespeare.

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Movie Info

A workshop of William Shakespeare's Richard III inspires actor-director Al Pacino's breezy documentary, which aims to make the playwright accessible to contemporary American audiences. Though a noteworthy cast of stage actors and Hollywood stars (including Kevin Spacey, Winona Ryder, and Alec Baldwin) gathers to work on the play, Looking for Richard does not present a straightforward filmed version of the scheming, deformed king's rise and fall. Instead, Pacino turns the cameras on the rehearsal process and his own exploration of Shakespeare's history and meaning. Scenes in full costume alternate with readings in street clothes, while interviews gather the opinions on the Bard of everyone from renowned scholars and Shakespearean actors to random New Yorkers. A trip to England allows brief visits to Shakespeare's birthplace and the Globe Theater, but Pacino's focus remains on the United States and his desire to prove that American actors can act the plays without mimicking their British counterparts. Clearly a labor of love for Pacino, the film benefits from his passionate persona and direct, no-nonsense attitude; while the performances may vary in quality, the film manifests a refreshingly casual, unpretentious, and enthusiastic approach to Shakespeare. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi

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Al Pacino
as Richard III
Harris Yulin
as King Edward
Penelope Allen
as Queen Elizabeth
Alec Baldwin
as Clarence
Kevin Spacey
as Buckingham
Winona Ryder
as Lady Anne
Aidan Quinn
as Richmond
Timmy Prairie
as Prince Edward
Kevin Conway
as Hastings
Larry Bryggman
as Lord Stanley
Phil Parolisi
as Halberd/Messenger
Bruce MacVittie
as 1st Murderer
Paul Guilfoyle (II)
as 2nd Murderer
Richard Cox
as Catesby
Julie Moret
as Mistress Shore
Frederic Kimball
as Bishop of Ely
Dan Von Bargen
as Ratcliffe
Ira Lewis
as Tyrell
Neal Jones
as Messenger
Luke Toma
as Messenger
Kevin Kline
as Himself
Emrys Jones
as Himself
Peter Brook
as Himself
Derek Jacobi
as Himself
John Gielgud
as Himself
View All

News & Interviews for Looking for Richard

Critic Reviews for Looking for Richard

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (16)

This runs 118 minutes, but it felt like six or seven hours.

July 3, 2008 | Full Review…

High-spirited and infectiously energetic.

June 11, 2008

Pacino's first film as writer/director is a marvellously intelligent, witty and imaginative exploration of the problems faced by anyone wishing to act in Shakespeare or translate the plays to film.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

Pacino has made an informative, engrossing and hugely enjoyable movie that stands as a work of pure entertainment, almost as powerful as its inspiration.

January 15, 2005 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

There are actors' rehearsals and performances, and Mr. Pacino interviews experts, conducts man-on-the-street polls and stages collegial arguments with his cronies. Thus emerges the intricate story of Richard's ambition.

May 21, 2003 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

The last half-hour drags.

June 18, 2002 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Looking for Richard

It is hard to imagine a world in which William Shakespeare has not, in one way or another, impacted our world. From how we view entertainment to the plans of our Government, they have all been influenced by the plays, sonnets, and poems of this one man. But with entertainment has Shakespeare impacted the most. To date, he is the only playwright whose works have been preformed the most, interpreted the most, and above all else, cherished the most. However, there is only one group of people that can say that they have been impacted the most by his works and that is actors. Now, why actors? That is because the only true, real way to understand Shakespeare is to act out one of his plays and live the life his creations have lived. Now, in the ninty nineties, actor Al Pacino (The Godfather Trilogy, Dog Day Afternoon, Scarface, Carlito's Way) decided to go and direct a handful of films to show the world in a way an actor sees. One of these films is this documentary that chronicles Pacino's involvement in a production of Richard III (said to be the most confusing, yet most preformed play written by Shakespeare). While showing his involvement, he says at the beginning that he is also wanting to show the world the Shakespeare he loves and his views. With numerous interviews with random people on the streets of New York and fellow actors, we can see that Shakespeare has sense become something of an idea that people only know the basics of but no one really knows who or what he is. Now, I first heard of this documentary completely by accident when I was looking up films to do with Al Pacino. When I sat down and watched this documentary, what it done was reopen my eyes to the power of Shakespeare and the legacy that he created for us all. But what really captivated me was how difficult it is for professional actors to preform Shakespeare. I know of people that think that, for actors, it is easy due to them being trained. Well, this film shows that, along with how confused the actors get over the story of Richard III. But what really makes this entire documentary stand out is how Al Pacino filmed rehearsals, made his own mini-film of Richard III (as in, found locations, got the costumes, and filmed a traditional film), and shows to such lengths to understand the mind of Shakespeare and his life. While all of that is going on, Pacino does try to make a point: Americans can have an understanding and an appreciation for Shakespeare. Early in this documentary, there is an interview with a person who, in a rather obscene way, say that the only people who even take Shakespeare seriously are the Japanese. And he is right. Over the past few decades, as English speaking nations (mostly America) start to bastardize their own language, other cultures have adapted into our past of playwrights and learn their own magic from these printed words. Plus, as said by one British Professor in the film, when America does a Shakespeare play, they just end up mimicking the British in such a way that it brings pure disgrace. Al Pacino had set out a complete quest to prove that America can still learn from and love Shakespeare, and if you are asking if he is able to accomplish that, you must see this documentary. It will open your eyes and give you a complete appreciation for the works of the man who is considered to be the greatest English playwright in history.

Zach Brehany
Zach Brehany

Super Reviewer


A study of acting from the master, Al Pacino. Although it's not totally concise, this is a very entertaining examination of the measures taken by actors to develop a character, and of Shakespeare's role in modern society. Highly recommended for Pacino fans and aspiring actors.

Mike T.
Mike T.

Super Reviewer

A documentary about the making of a movie... but not really, since they weren't MAKING the movie, they were making the documentary. More an exploration of the play, maybe. I don't know, but I found it fascinating all the same.

Steve B.
Steve B.

Super Reviewer

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