This introduction to the film production of “Richard III” starring Ian McKellen establishes its basic approach to the script: modernizing it to suit what might have happened in the nineteen-thirties if England had succumbed to a Nazi tyranny such as Hitler’s in Germany. Society is shown as extravagant and self-indulgent at a royal ball, with music cleverly modernizing a famous Renaissance pastoral lyric, “Come live with me and be my love . . .” by Shakespeare’s contemporary Christopher Marlowe. McKellen begins his speech at the ball but completes it sardonically in a men’s room, as if the camera is a coconspirator (not unlike Olivier’s soliloquy).
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