In one of the most bold and imaginative adaptations of Shakespeare to reach the screen, the 16th-century drama is relocated to imagined 1930s fascist Britain, with Ian McKellen’s vicious performance presenting the sheer embodiment of evil.

Co-written by McKellen with director Richard Loncraine, the reworking is notable for the detail applied to its vision of alternate reality, in which British history is intermingled with Nazi iconography and famous London landmarks are reimagined - or occasionally even relocated (Battersea Power Station is transplanted to the Kentish coast). With an all-star cast including Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Robert Downey Jr., Nigel Hawthorne, Kristin Scott Thomas and Maggie Smith, this is stunningly cinematic translation of the powerful National Theatre production upon which it’s based; but it’s McKellen’s transfixing performance that captures its black heart.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Richard Loncraine

Written by: Ian McKellen

Produced by: Stephen Bayly, Lisa Katselas

Cast: Ian McKellen (Richard III), Annette Bening (Queen Elizabeth), Robert Downey Jr. (Rivers), Nigel Hawthorne (Clarence), Dominic West (Richmond), John Wood (King Edward)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Actor 1996
  • Feature Film Selection 1996