Release: October 11, 1996
Story: In his directional debut, Al Pacino explores Shakespeare and his popular play Richard III. Through a performance of selected scenes of Richard III (where Pacino plays the title role) and discussions with the other actors (Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Winona Ryder, Estelle Parsons, and Kevin Conway, among others), Shakespeare luminaries (like Derek Jacobi, Vanessa Redgrave, Kenneth Branagh, and John Gielgud), and numerous Shakespeare historians, Pacino seeks to get to the heart of what the play is about and examine Shakespeare’s role and importance in popular culture, especially in American.
Thoughts: Most people struggle with Shakespeare (even Branagh says he did when he was younger). It’s hard to follow the plots and dialogue let alone understand all the historical and cultural illusions Shakespeare makes in his work. Pacino, no stranger to the Bard’s work, walks the viewer through Richard III and Shakespeare and helps us grasp what many find the ungraspable. Pacino and the rest know Shakespeare is difficult to understand, particularly Richard III with its complex plot and surplus of complicated character relationships. Those featured in the documentary talk to the audience as equals, speaking on our level without ever condescending. Along with the breaking down of the play’s characters, plot, dialogue, and historical backdrop, this easy to follow and sometimes amusing conversation gives all audiences a window into Shakespeare and makes the idea of watching more of his work fall less daunting.