Screenplay by Ian McKellen and Richard Loncraine

Scenes 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99  

SCENE 88 

EXT. GATEWAY TO THE TOWER - DAY

QUEEN ELIZABETH and her daughter PRINCESS ELIZABETH, with the DUCHESS OF YORK and LADY ANNE, all wrapped up in furs against the cold, have arrived to see the Princes in The Tower. The grown-ups are in mourning and veiled. Two limousines have brought them to The Tower's entrance.

BRACKENBURY stands behind the massive iron gate, respectful and overwhelmed by this royal visitation. 

QUEEN ELIZABETH is confident she will gain admission to The Tower.

QUEEN ELIZABETH 

Brackenbury, how are my sons, the Princes?

BRACKENBURY 

Right well. Your Majesty.

QUEEN ELIZABETH steps forward to the entrance but BRACKENBURY stops her.

BRACKENBURY 
(continuing) 

By your patience, I may not permit you to visit them. 
The King has strictly charged the contrary.

QUEEN ELIZABETH 

The King! Who's that?

BRACKENBURY 

I mean the Lord Protector.

QUEEN ELIZABETH

The Lord protect him from that kingly title. 
I am their mother. Who should keep me from them?

DUCHESS OF YORK 

I am their father's mother. I will see them.

LADY ANNE 

I am their aunt. Then bring us to their sight.

BRACKENBURY 
(deeply embarrassed) 

I am bound by oath and therefore, pardon me.

The ladies turn toward their limousines.

DUCHESS OF YORK 
(to LADY ANNE)

Go you to Richard - and good angels guard you!

The CHAUFFEUR opens the car door for LADY ANNE, who looks more haggard than ever.

QUEEN ELIZABETH
(sobbing)

Stay yet. Look back with me unto The Tower. 
Pity, you ancient stones, those tender princes Whom envy has immured within your walls. Rough cradle for such little pretty ones. 
Rude, ragged nurse, use my babies well.

scene 88. From within the Bankside power station where this scene was shot, a constant electrical hum almost drowned the dialogue, all of which had to be re-voiced in a sound studio.

'I am their mother.' The real princes were 13 and 9 years old when they disappeared in 1483. Nearly 200 years later, the bones of two children were excavated within The Tower and re-buried in Westminster Abbey.

'I am bound by oath and therefore pardon me.' This sort of plea was not considered admissible at the Nuremberg Trials. It is an unenviable job caring for political prisoners, of whatever age, and treating them like common criminals.

'Rude, ragged nurse, use my babies well.'

SCENE 89 

INT. LADY ANNE'S LIMOUSINE - DAY

Alone in the back, LADY ANNE hitches up her skirt and finds the appropriate spot in her much-punctured thigh. She injects herself with a calming drug. Then she closes her eyes and waits for it to work.

Over, the triumphal, martial orchestrations of celebration.

SCENE 90 

INT. THE CATHEDRAL - DAY

The time-honoured glory of the Coronation reaches its climax - musically and visually.

Everyone of any importance seems to have squeezed into the medieval cathedral. Dusty, threadworn, military banners hang from the hammerbeam roof. The PEERS and their PEERESSES wear ermined coronets, bejewelled tiaras and scarlet velvet robes.

Tradition and ritual confirm the legitimacy of RICHARD Ill's struggle to the throne, where in the distance he is now crowned by the ARCHBISHOP, with LADY ANNE as his Queen.

scene 90. The visual climax of Richard's ascent is the invented scene at the Rally (scene 87). The Coronation, another scene not in the play, is used by RL to show the decline of Lady Anne, through whose eyes we watch the enthronement. At one time, I was expecting a day's filming in Westminster Abbey. This was too complicated to organise and, as it turned out, unnecessary. We used a corner of St John the Baptist's Church in west London, with convincing replicas of the genuine Coronation paraphernalia. The Sword of State and the Sceptre had to be clutched together in Richard's one good hand.

Craig Bloor was our Clapper Loader, the Junior member of the camera team who loads the film and cares for it and starts each shot by clapping a stick down onto the board that records the scene number, thereby synchronising sound and film. Craig's clapping was always gently unobtrusive, a welcome change from others I have known who place their board up against the actor's face, as if hoping to trap a nose as they clap.

SCENE 91 

INT. PRIVATE VIEWING THEATRE - NIGHT

A pillared art deco hall has been fitted out with screen and projector, to make a private cinema.

Next to matching armchairs for the KING and QUEEN, BUCKINGHAM proudly sits. There are rows of gilded, plush, upright chairs for BRACKENBURY, CATESBY, RATCLIFFE, LORD STANLEY and TYRELL.

The music continues over the black-and-white propaganda film which is viewed, with appreciative applause at times, by the new KING'S COURTIERS, all uniformed in black.

There is an air of lassitude and fear. No-one dares to cross RICHARD, yet no-one knows what he wants, until he tells them.

The doleful LADY ANNE sits upright and pale, next to RICHARD, who is munching Fortnum's chocolates. He leans across to BUCKINGHAM, with brandy and cigar. The music keeps the conversations private.

RICHARD

Now Buckingham! Thus high, by your advice 
And your assistance, is King Richard seated. 
But shall we wear these glories for a day? 
Or shall they last and we rejoice in them?

BUCKINGHAM 

Still live they and for ever let them last.

RICHARD

The Princes live. Think now what I would speak.

BUCKINGHAM 

Say on. Your Majesty.

scene 91. This 4-minute scene was shot without a break, as the camera slid in front of the actors, at Eitham Palace in south-east London.

RL was impressed that the actors didn't fluff their lines or stumble over their moves, until I pointed out that we are used to even longer takes on stage; as long, that is, as the Act between the opening line and the curtain call. Here, it is the actors' own timing which carries the scene, without the later intervention of the film's editor.

Whether an audience realises the unusual length of the take does not matter; but perhaps they will sense the relentless way in which the camera observes Richard's confidence cracking in front of their eyes.

Fortnum's chocolates. Hitler enjoyed watching newsreel of his public appearances in the company of his inner circle. He was also partial to sticky chocolates. I discovered this when playing the Fuhrer in the drama/documentary Countdown to War (Granada TV: 1989).

RICHARD 

Why, Buckingham, I say I would be King.

BUCKINGHAM 

Why so you are.

RICHARD 

The princes live.
Buckingham, you never used to be so dull. 
Shall I be plain? I wish the bastards dead. 
And I would have it suddenly performed. 
What say you now?

RICHARD 
(continuing) 

Speak suddenly - be brief.

BUCKINGHAM 
(rising) 

Your Majesty may do your pleasure.

RICHARD

Tut, tut, you are all ice. Your kindness freezes. 
Say, have I your consent that they shall die?

BUCKINGHAM 
(bowing) 

Give me some little breath, some pause, Your Majesty,
Before I positively speak in this.

BUCKINGHAM retires to consider his position.

RICHARD
(to CAMERA) 

High-reaching 'Buck-ing-ham' grows circumspect.
Has he so long held out with me untired 
And stops he now for breath. Well, be it so.

(aloud)

Lord Stanley!

LORD STANLEY 
(moving up behind RICHARD) 

Your Majesty?

RICHARD 

What's the news?

LORD STANLEY 

The Archbishop, as I hear,
Has joined with Richmond, Your Majesty, in France.

RICHARD

Richmond aims to marry young Elizabeth, 
My brother Edward's daughter. By that knot, he hopes to get my crown. 
Richmond is your nephew. Well, look to it.

LORD STANLEY hears the warning and withdraws.

RICHARD 
(calling outloud) 

Catesby!

CATESBY, ever the King's private secretary, leans close to RICHARD.

RICHARD
(continuing) 

Rumour it abroad
That Anne, my wife, is very grievous sick. 
Look how you dream! I say again, give out 
That Anne, my queen, is sick - and like to die.

LADY ANNE is in a drugged world other own. Stunned, CATESBY leaves the room.

'Why, Buckingham, I say I would be King.' Richard does not say what kind of king. Throughout, he has a need to be active, to re-create the excitement of fighting in his civilian life. He has no credo and his kingship is politically barren. His only concern is to hold onto his new power, not to use it for the benefit of his subjects. Although the film uses the iconography of fascism, Richard is a dictator pure and simple, from neither the right nor the left. The fascistic references are a reminder that an English dictatorship (even by a Royal claimant) is credible within the 1930s setting.

'Buckingham, you never used to be so dull.' This is my translation of 'Cousin, thou wast not wont to be so dull' (4.2).

 

RICHARD
(continuing) 

Tyrell!

(to CAMERA)

I must be married to my brother's daughter, 
Or else my kingdom stands on brittle glass. 
Murder her brothers and then marry her.

TYRELL arrives and stands by RICHARD'S chair. RICHARD beckons him closer.

RICHARD 
(continuing sotto voce) 

Dare you resolve to kill a friend of mine?

TYRELL 

Please you; but I'd rather kill two enemies.

RICHARD

Why, there you have it. Two deep enemies. Tyrell . . .

(into his ear)

... I mean those bastards in The Tower. 
Say it is done, and I will love you for it.

TYRELL 

It is done. Your Majesty.

As BUCKINGHAM returns, RICHARD dismisses TYRELL, who leaves the room. BUCKINGHAM stands provocatively between RICHARD and the screen.

BUCKINGHAM
(loud)

Your Majesty, I claim the Earldom of Hereford, 
The which you promised I should possess.

The court tries not to appear to listen.

RICHARD 

Well, let that rest.

RICHARD rises and moves away to the long windows that lead onto the balcony.

RICHARD 
(continuing) 

The Archbishop's fled to Richmond.

BUCKINGHAM follows RICHARD out onto the balcony.

BUCKINGHAM 

I hear the news.

'Tyrell!' In the play, this is the first appearance of Tyrell, the 'discontented gentleman', who is recruited by King Richard to dispatch the princes in The Tower. Although it is said that gold will 'tempt him to anything', Tyrell employs two others to do these murders. All three are appalled at the 'piteous massacre'. Tyrell tells the tale in a 23-line soliloquy to the audience, which Richard does not hear. He invites Tyrell to

. . . come to me soon at after-supper, 
When you shall tell the story of their death.

What transpires at this intimate, late-evening rendezvous, Shakespeare does not reveal and Tyrell leaves the play. Richard Eyre extended the part as far as the battle, where Tyrell is one of Richard's inner circle, along with Ratcliffe and Norfolk, another adjutant who is missing from the film.

It seemed credible that the ever-obliging Tyrell could engineer all the murders. As in the play, Richard half-befriends his accomplice. Their relationship contrasts with the professional reserve which separates Richard from his other intimate, Ratcliffe.

In Adrian Dunbar's perfectly judged performance, Tyrell likes taking orders not just because he is a loyalist but because he relishes his cunning as an assassin. Not just a thug, he takes pride in a job well done. He likes being close to Richard - amorality and ambition are a lethal combination. They remain dependent on each other to the end.

'It is done. Your Majesty.' Unlike Buckingham, Tyrell does not seem to hesitate at the suggestion of infanticide. He is rewarded with the promise of Richard's 'love' - a rare commodity, only otherwise mentioned when Richard seduces Lady Anne.

SCENE 92 

EXT. BALCONY - PRIVATE VIEWING THEATRE - NIGHT

Backed by a massive clock, the large balcony looks out onto the twinkling lights of the capital city. Traffic sounds below. The two old allies stand side by side. Behind them, the film continues to be projected.

BUCKINGHAM 
(continuing) 

What says Your Majesty to my just request?

RICHARD

As I remember, it was prophesied, 
That Richmond should be King! A king! Perhaps . . .

BUCKINGHAM 
(more insistent) 

Your promise for the Earldom!

RICHARD 
(a mocking pronunciation) 

Riche - monde!

BUCKINGHAM 

Your Majesty -

RICHARD 

Yes! What's o'clock?

BUCKINGHAM

I am thus bold to put 
Your Majesty in mind Of what you promised me.

RICHARD 

Well: but what's o'clock?

BUCKINGHAM 
(consulting his fob watch) 

Upon the stroke of ten.

RICHARD 

Well, let it strike.

BUCKINGHAM 

Why let it strike?

RICHARD

Because that, like a Jack, you keep the stroke 
Between your begging and my meditation. 
I am not in the giving vein today.

BUCKINGHAM 

Why then, resolve me whether you will or no.

RICHARD 

You trouble me. I am not in the vein!

The clock behind them deafeningly chimes ten.

RICHARD strides back into the room, which he leaves, followed obediently by BRACKENBURY, RATCLIFFE and LORD STANLEY.

BUCKINGHAM

And is it thus? 
Repays he my deep service With such contempt?

BUCKINGHAM shivers and goes back into the room.

'Riche-monde!' Richard contains his fear about Richmond and Buckingham by mocking their names: 'Bucking-foam' and, here, 'Riche-monde', a. disparaging reference to his forces being marshalled in France. Lady Thatcher privately referred to her principal opponent as 'Kin-nock'.

'Upon the stroke of ten.' The clock on the facade of the Shell-Mex House overlooks the Thames and is reputedly the largest in Europe. Throughout the evening we filmed, its hands were fixed at 10 o'clock. As it does not strike, the chimes were added later. Ironically we could only film (and record sound) between the quarter-hour booms of Big Ben, as it kept proper time a half-mile upstream above the Houses of Parliament.

Here was another opportunity for Richard to appear shorter.

'And is it thus?' This brief speech was cut because Jim Broadbent's expressive face said it all. Their partnership was never an equal one - although it takes half-a-dozen murders for Buckingham to realise that Richard has an agenda that does not include both of them. He has compromised and worked harder than ever in his charmed life, to help 'Buckingham/Gloucester Inc.' to succeed. He might even collude in infanticide, if only Richard would hand over the reward he has promised. But there is no honour, even among titled thieves.

SCENE 93 

INT. PRIVATE VIEWING THEATRE - NIGHT

BUCKINGHAM, thinking he is alone, slumps in the nearest chair.

LADY ANNE 

0 never yet one hour in his bed, 
Have I enjoyed the golden dew of sleep;
But have been wakened by his timorous
dreams. 
Besides, he hates me:
 
And will, no doubt, shortly be rid of me.

BUCKINGHAM 

0, let me think of Hastings and be gone.

BUCKINGHAM looks at LADY ANNE. They have both been duped by RICHARD. But there is no time to sympathise.

BUCKINGHAM has decided to escape, leaving LADY ANNE alone, catatonic.

'0 never yet one hour in his bed,
Have I enjoyed the golden dew of sleep . . .'
Another foretaste of Macbeth, who murders sleep, and of his wife, who sleep-walks. It is a telling insight that Richard has regular nightmares, leading up to the night before the battle when his final dream is dramatised.

 

SCENE 94 

INT. THE PRINCES' CELL - THE TOWER - DAY

TYRELL holds a tightly woven, red silk scarf over the face of PRINCE JAMES. As the victim gasps for air, the silk is drawn into his mouth and deep into the throat.

scene 94.

SCENE 95 

INT. GRAND STAIRCASE - THE PALACE - DAY

QUEEN ELIZABETH sits alone on the stairs. The shock of her sons' death fills her heart and will not be released until she faces the man who ordered their murder.

SCENE 96 

INT. THE KING'S OFFICE - DAY

RICHARD is seated at his desk. An impressive self-portrait of him in his new black uniform dominates the room.

TYRELL enters.

RICHARD 

Kind Tyrell. Am I happy in your news?

TYRELL 

It's done. Your Majesty.

RICHARD 

But did you see them dead?

TYRELL 

I did. Your Majesty.

RICHARD 

And buried, gentle Tyrell?

TYRELL nods.

RICHARD
(continuing)

Come to me, Tyrell . . . soon ... at after- supper,
When you shall tell the story of their death. 
Meanwhile, but think how I may do you good:
And be inheritor of your desire. Till then . . .

TYRELL leaves, and RICHARD, left alone, turns to look at his image on the wall behind.

RICHARD 
(continuing) 

The sons of Edward sleep in Abraham's bosom;
And Anne - my wife - shall bid the world
good night.
Uncertain way of gain. But I am in 
So far in blood, that sin will pluck on sin. Tear-falling pity dwells not in this eye.

'I am in 
So far in blood, that sin will pluck on sin'
: cf. Macbeth's

'I am in blood 
Stepped in so far, that should I wade no more, 
Returning were as tedious as go o'er.'(3.4)

Richard's confession that he has sinned is put aside by his determination to control the conscience which will erupt in his nightmare in scene 110.

 

SCENE 97 

INT. LADY ANNE'S BEDROOM - THE PALACE - DAY

The heavy curtains are drawn, but a crack of sunlight from the middle slices across the room. ANNE lies in her bed. She seems to be staring at a large black spider that drops slowly on its thread from above her.

The spider lands on LADY ANNE's pale face and crawls delicately across one unblinking eye.

scene 97. Shakespeare does not make it clear how Anne dies - an overdose perhaps or does Tyrell pay her a visit? Whichever way, Richard is responsible for her fatal decline.

Queen Elizabeth calls Richard 'a bottled spider' (scene 41). I saw Robert Helpmann as Richard III mount the Old Vic stage (1957) in front of a backcloth painted with a huge spider's web. Tony Sher for the RSC (1984), on crutches and with long, dangling sleeves, also invited arachnid comparisons. Here, film of a model spider was superimposed on a static shot of Kristin Scott Thomas's face.

 

SCENE 98 

INT. CORRIDOR OUTSIDE THE KING'S OFFICE -DAY

The door to the King's office opens and RICHARD, dressed in his black leather greatcoat, cap, gloves and carrying his officer's baton, strides out into the corridor with TYRELL.

As they walk across the galleried landing towards the stairs, RATCLIFFE appears and calls after RICHARD.

RATCLIFFE 

Your Majesty!

RICHARD 

Ratclifie.

RATCLIFFE 

Upon the southern coast, there rides a powerful navy.
It's thought that Richmond is its admiral. 
Buckingham has fled, to welcome him ashore.

RICHARD 

We must be brief when traitors brave the field!

Before RATCLIFFE has time to leave, the DUCHESS OF YORK appears at the top of the stairs.

DUCHESS OF YORK 

Are you my son?

RICHARD is startled by her voice but recovers.

RICHARD 

Yes, I thank God, my father and yourself!

scene 98.  Mezzanine of the Senate House.

DUCHESS OF YORK 

You toad! Where are the Princes? And your wife?

RICHARD

Mother, I have a touch of your condition, 
That cannot bear the accent of reproof.

No-one has invited RATCLIFFE and TYRELL to leave. They observe stony-faced.

DUCHESS OF YORK 

0, let me speak.

RICHARD 

Be brief, good Mother, for I am in haste.

DUCHESS OF YORK 
(ignoring TYRELL and RATCLIFFE) 

A grievous burden was your birth to me.

RICHARD 
(who has heard this before) 

And came I not, at last, to comfort you?

DUCHESS OF YORK 

You came on earth to make the earth my hell. 
Tetchy and wayward was your infancy;
Your schooldays frightful, desperate, wild
and furious;
What comfortable hour can you name, 
That ever graced me with your company?

RICHARD 
(dismissively) 

If I be so disgracious in your eye -

DUCHESS OF YORK 

- Hear me a word! For I shall never speak to you again.

RICHARD
(looking directly at her) 

So?

DUCHESS OF YORK

To war take with you my most grievous curse! 
My prayers shall on Richmond's party fight. Bloody you are: bloody will be your end. 
Shame serves your life - and will your death attend!

She has finished cursing.

RICHARD, the resplendent Commander-in-Chief, is ready to leave. Winking at TYRELL who follows, RICHARD pushes past the DUCHESS OF YORK, out into the corridor and off to war. RATCLIFFE marches behind.

Mother and son will not meet again.

'You toad!' This epithet echoes Queen Margaret: 'this poisonous bunch-backed toad' (1.3).

In the play, the Duchess of York and Queen Elizabeth bewail with Queen Margaret, as they await Richard's departure for war. Onstage, we called it 'the Greenham Common' scene. It has 135 lines before the women confront the man they all hate. Some of the deleted lines of Queen Margaret have been given to the Duchess. Queen Elizabeth's subsequent exchange with Richard is delayed until scene 101.

'You came on earth to make the earth my hell.' cf. Lady Anne's "You have made the happy earth my hell' (scene 23).

Whatever justice there is in the Duchess of York's disaffection towards her youngest son, it is based on her disappointment and disgust at his physique. Perhaps it was from his mother that Richard learnt how to hate so fiercely.

'To war take with you my most grievous curse!' Richard is speechless at his mother's insistent prayer that he should die in battle. As she leaves, he is aware that the family row has been witnessed by Ratcliffe and Tyrell.

 

SCENE 99 

EXT. SUBURBAN AERODROME - DUSK

An Imperial Airways passenger plane, its engines ticking over, is ready to fly across the English Channel to France.

The DUCHESS OF YORK makes her way from her car to the waiting aircraft. QUEEN ELIZABETH and PRINCESS ELIZABETH have come to see her off- both wrapped up against the stiff breeze.

An AIRCRAFTSMAN carries the leather luggage.

DUCHESS OF YORK 
(above the roar of the engines) 

I leave for France. Be not tongue-tied. 
You are a dream of what you were, a breath, 
A queen in jest. Where is your husband now? 
Where is your brother? Where are your two
sons? 
Wherein joy? Who sues and kneels and says 'God Save
the Queen'?
Where be the bending peers that nattered you? 
Where be the thronging troops that followed
you?

QUEEN ELIZABETH is crying as they kiss goodbye.

The DUCHESS OF YORK is helped onboard the plane by the AIRCRAFTSMAN.

QUEEN ELIZABETH
(desperately shouting up to the DUCHESS OF YORK) 

0 teach me how to curse my enemy!

DUCHESS OF YORK 
(shouting back as the steps are moved away) 

Forbear to sleep the nights and fast the days. 
Think that your babes were sweeter than they were;
And he that slew them, fouler than he is!

scene 99. Shoreham Aerodrome is a relic from early passenger flight. It was a part of the nation's defence against enemy air attack in the Second World War. These days, it services private planes, flying teachers and their pupils. We shot here by lucky chance on one of the very few dull days in the glorious summer of 1995. The misty atmosphere was created by oil-based smoke supplied by the property department.

'I leave for France.' In the play, it is Queen Margaret who returns to her homeland, France.

SCENES 100-126

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