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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Richard III (1912)

The Duke of Gloucester (Frederick Warde) desires the throne of England now held by his brother Edward IV (Robert Gemp) and embarks on a path of murder and deceit to accomplish his goal. Directed by Andre Calmettes and James Keane, the debatable concept of doing Shakespeare as silent cinema aside (you're robbing him of his words!), the film is of interest as an artifact of the dawn of American film. It's quite primitive, the camera doesn't move and the actors still enter and exit as if performing in a play. Even the "opening up" of the play is stagnant. For example, the camera is placed at the end of a road as we see men on horseback galloping forward and eventually riding past the dormant camera. The lack of movement neuters the battle of Bosworth Field. The acting is archaic with lots of indicating and breast beating. There's no visual equivalent to compensate for the lack of Shakespeare's poetry. But the evocative score by Ennio Morricone goes a long way in making up for the film's deficiencies. That being said, for anyone interested in silent cinema or cinema at all, the film has value. With James Keane and Violet Stuart.

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