Screenplay by Ian McKellen and Richard Loncraine
EXT. RAILWAY SIDINGS - DAY
RICHARD'S troops are busily and
efficiently preparing for mobilisation, loading supplies and
artillery from the platform and onto the armoured steam train.
One of the railway carriages is RICHARD'S
QUEEN ELIZABETH and PRINCESS ELIZABETH
determinedly push their way through the indifferent soldiery,
until QUEEN ELIZABETH spies RICHARD and his black-shirted
ENTOURAGE striding along the platform to his carriage. She has
decided to cause a scene.
Tell me, you villain slave, where are
RICHARD stops and turns to her. So do his
bodyguards. QUEEN ELIZABETH is unabashed.
Where is my brother Rivers and your
Where is Lord Hastings?
(beckoning to QUEEN ELIZABETH)
RICHARD signals his GUARDS to escort QUEEN
ELIZABETH and PRINCESS ELIZABETH, like prisoners, toward the
(over his shoulder)
I must talk a word with you.
I have no more sons of the royal blood
For you to slaughter.
PRINCESS ELIZABETH is detained on the
platform and plonked on a bench, between two black-shirted GUARDS.
(helping QUEEN ELIZABETH on board)
You have a daughter called Elizabeth.
|scene 100 was filmed at
Steamtown Railway Centre at Camforth in Lancashire. A collection
of antique rolling-stock is kept in working order by enthusiasts
Just across the tracks is the small railway station where David
Lean filmed Noël Coward's Brief Encounter exactly fifty
summers before we too were shooting in Carnforth. RL and I were
encouraged by this coincidence, Brief Encounter being our
favourite British movie - to date!
QUEEN ELIZABETH and PRINCESS ELIZABETH.
This was on our first day's shooting - Tuesday, 27 June 1995.
It was good to be away from home with a chance to get to know
colleagues over a drink or evening meal.
Everyone assumed I must be excited to be filming at last. I
only realised that this was unlike any other job when at Steamtown
I saw the scale of the enterprise - 200 soldiers from the local
barracks, kitted out in black; 20 horses with their grooms;
half-a-dozen Alsatians and their handlers; a crew of 50
technicians; Annette Bening; tents, caravans and a catering truck;
and a German engine that had been designed to pull Hitler's train
across the Third Reich - and all because three years ago I wanted
to go on playing Richard III!
Tony Burrough: 'The period carriages are French and English. We
invented our own armoured carriages, by painting them to give an
armour-plated look. It is full of anachronisms. Train spotters and
military buffs will be confused; but the important thing is that
we created the right atmosphere to tell the story.'
'You have a daughter called Elizabeth.' Queen
Elizabeth's outburst against her enemy has been encouraged by the
Duchess of York but the attempt at a direct public humiliation of
Richard is undercut by his apparent indifference and the ambiguous
threat of this line.
INT. RICHARD'S CARRIAGE HEADQUARTERS -
The interior has been stylishly adapted
into the main control centre of RICHARD'S military headquarters.
Veneered panelling and a couple of easy chairs are bolted to the
CATESBY, TYRELL and other BLACK-SHIRTED
SENIOR OFFICERS are working under the shaded overhead lamps that
illuminate the table, laid out with maps and battle plans.
And must she die for this? 0, let her
RICHARD offers her a chair. Battle
Her life is safest only in her birth.
And only in that safety died her
You speak as if that I had slain the
No doubt the murderous knife was dull
Till it was sharpened on your stone-hard heart
To revel in the entrails of my lambs.
Madam, I intend more good to you and
Than ever you or yours by me were harmed.
Tell me what state, what dignity, what
Can you bestow on any child of mine?
Even all I have; yes - and myself and
Shall I with all, endow a child of yours.
Be brief, lest that the process of your
Last longer telling than your kindness date.
Then know, that from my soul, I love
And do intend to make her Queen of England.
QUEEN ELIZABETH is appalled.
Even so. What think you of it?
How can you woo her?
That would I learn of you.
And will you learn of me?
Madam, with all my heart.
Send to her - by the man who slew her
A pair of bleeding hearts - then will she weep.
Send her a letter of your noble deeds.
Tell her you made away her Uncle Clarence,
Her Uncle Rivers, yes, and for her sake
Made quick conveyance with her good Aunt Anne!
You mock me. Madam. This is not the
To win your daughter.
There is no other way:
Unless you could put on some other shape.
And not be Richard who has done all this.
Say that I did all this for love of
Well then, she cannot choose but hate
Look - what is done cannot be now
Men shall deal unadvisedly sometimes.
RICHARD fills a glass of gin, gives it to
QUEEN ELIZABETH and sits opposite her.
If I did take the Kingdom from your
To make amends, I'll give it to your daughter.
Again shall you be mother of a king.
What? We have many goodly days to see.
The liquid drops of tears that you have shed,
Shall come again, transformed to orient pearl.
Go then, my mother. To your daughter
Make bold her bashful years, with your experience.
Acquaint the Princess
With the sweet, silent hours of marriage joys. And when these
troops of mine have chastised The petty rebel Richmond and
Bound with triumphant garlands will I come
And lead your daughter to a conqueror's bed.
What were I best to say?
Say she shall be a high and mighty
To wail the title, as her mother does.
Say - I will love her everlastingly.
But how long fairly shall her sweet
As long as Heaven and nature lengthen
As long as Hell and Richard like of it.
Your reasons are too shallow and too
Oh, no. My reasons are too deep and
Too deep and dead, my infants, in their graves.
Harp not on that string. Madam, that is
Harp on it still, shall I, till
I know that Richmond aims to wed
In her consists my happiness - and yours.
Without her, follows to myself and you,
Herself, the land and many a Christian soul,
Death, desolation, ruin and decay.
They cannot be avoided - but by this.
Be the attorney of my love to her.
Plead what I will be, not what I have been.
Shall I be tempted by the Devil thus?
Yes, if the Devil tempt you to do good.
But you did kill my children.
But in your daughter's womb, I bury
Where, in that nest of spicery, they shall breed.
Shall I go win my daughter to your
And be a happy mother by the deed.
Write to me very shortly, And you shall
understand from me her mind.
Bear her my true love's kiss.
RICHARD kisses her full on the mouth.
Amazed and revolted, QUEEN ELIZABETH leaves the carriage.
|scene 101. The interior scenes
of the carriage were filmed on the sound-proofed Stage E at
Shepperton Studios. It was a relief to be protected from the noise
of traffic which so often held up shooting on the exterior
locations to the despair of the sound mixer David Stephenson.
'You mock me. Madam.'
'Say that I did all this for love of her?' He plays the
same card of sincere love which worked so well in persuading Lady
Anne to marry him: cf. 'it was your heavenly face that set me on'
(scene 23). The two wooing scenes mirror
each other. The audience will be wondering whether he can pull it
off a second time.
'Men shall deal unadvisedly sometimes.' Richard has the
advantage of being in his own controlled environment. Inside his
headquarters, his confidence is not fazed by the presence of
officers and staff. He always likes an audience.
At the RNT, the whole scene was witnessed by a line of soldiers
standing at ease.
'We have many goodly days to see.' Richard makes a
bare-faced appeal to Queen Elizabeth's venality by holding out the
promise of power and riches. It was a bribe which in the Lady Anne
scene was not put into words. Here, it is particularly sickening,
in its implication that Queen Elizabeth shares his own immorality.
Richard cannot comprehend the depth other feelings.
'. . . the sweet, silent hours of marriage joys.' This
is rich coming from the husband of the ill-fated Lady Anne. I
played it with as much conviction as possible, so that Queen
Elizabeth and, indeed, the audience might just believe that his
conscience is beginning to get the better of him.
As Queen Elizabeth bitterly responds to Richard's lines by
deftly echoing his rhythms and words. He is close to losing his
temper. That is why he closes the sliding door between his staff
and the increasingly intimate exchange with his most challenging
'I know that Richmond aims to wed Elizabeth.' The eldest
child of the late King Edward would add lustre to Richmond's claim
to the throne. Richard exaggerates that the forthcoming war will
be fought over the Princess: but his threat is plain. He is
determined to hold onto the throne; and the more dangerous
Richmond's challenge, the longer war will persist, with all its
'Where, in that nest of spicery, they shall breed.'
Richard's sense of the erotic owes more to barrack-room boasting
than to the bedroom.
A drama critic of the RNT production, chiding my Richard for
not being sexy enough, thought it significant and unfortunate that
this line had been cut. Each night onstage, I remembered his
comment but did nothing about it until re- instating the line in
'Bear her my true love's kiss.' Richard has enjoyed flirting
with Queen Elizabeth. This kiss has a double nastiness. As the
audience now is accustomed to Kate Steavenson-Payne's innocent
prettiness, they can imagine her revulsion were she forced to be
intimate with her brothers' killer.
EXT. STATION PLATFORM - DAY
PRINCESS ELIZABETH rushes away from her
GUARDS to QUEEN ELIZABETH'S embrace.
(standing at the carriage door, to CAMERA)
Relenting fool! And shallow, changing
He sees LORD STANLEY coming along the
platform and pretending to ignore QUEEN ELIZABETH and PRINCESS
ELIZABETH, although a look is exchanged. LORD STANLEY makes for
Lord Stanley, what news?
(saluting and nervous)
None good. Your Majesty: nor none so
Hoyday, a riddle! Neither good nor
Once more, what news?
Richmond is on the seas.
Then be the seas on him! What does he
RICHARD steps down and proceeds along the
platform, followed by LORD STANLEY.
Your Majesty, I know not - but by
Well, as you guess?
Stirred up by Buckingham, He makes for
England, here to claim the crown.
Is the throne empty? Is the King
You will revolt and fly to him, I fear.
I never was, nor never will be, false.
(patting his shoulder)
Go then; and muster men.
LORD STANLEY, relieved he has got away
with it, salutes and is about to leave. But RICHARD has not
finished with him. He stops and directs LORD STANLEY'S attention
to his son GEORGE, in the friendly control of TYRELL.
But leave with us your son, young
Stanley, look your heart be firm,
Or else his head's assurance is but frail.
LORD STANLEY, aghast, retreats along the
platform. TYRELL gently restrains GEORGE from following his
father. He smiles up at his guardian.
As RICHARD is about to mount the train, a
young Aryan SUBALTERN rushes up and hands over his telegraph
Your Majesty. The Duke of Buckingham is
(strikes the SUBALTERN hard on the cheek)
Till you bring better news.
The OFFICERS and SOLDIERS who see this are
appalled that their leader is so out of control.
RATCLIFFE rescues the telegraph message
from the ground.
'The Duke of Buckingham is taken
I cry you mercy.
RICHARD smartly and graciously embraces
the SUBALTERN and remounts the train, followed by TYRELL. GEORGE
STANLEY is left behind with his NCO guard.
'Lord Stanley, what news?' Stanley is played by Edward
Hardwicke. His father, Sir Cedric, as King Edward, was one of the
four actor-knights in Olivier's film. Edward was one of Olivier's
young recruits to his National Theatre and he does a brilliant
impersonation. Previously we had worked only once together, when I
directed him as Birdboot in Stoppard's The
Real Inspector Hound at the Phoenix Theatre in Leicester
'Richmond is on the seas' was my clue for making him a
'I never was, nor never will be, false.' The upright
Stanley, although he never wears the black uniform, is the only
person to fool Richard throughout. In history and in the play, the
delivery of his troops to Richmond's side was crucial to the
defeat of Richard at the Battle of Bosworth. This was perhaps
Shakespeare's acknowledgement of one of his patrons, Lord Strange,
who was a descendant of the real Lord Stanley.
In the film, it is Stanley's Air Force which is decisive.
Gary Blowfield: Tony Burrough: RL: Ratcliffe: Richard III.
After each take there is a chance to review what has just been
shot on the video monitor which records in fuzzy black-and-white
what the film camera has just seen in colour. Gary Blowfield was
I always monitored my progress in this way, although it could
be unnerving to realise that a performance is basically fixed once
the director is satisfied and decides to move on to the next
set-up. I found it an invaluable means of checking emotional
levels and positions vis-a-vis the camera. 'If it works on the
video playback, RL said, it will work twenty-fold at the Odeon
'I cry you mercy.' To strike a subordinate is a
court-martial offence. It is a shocking incident that reveals
Richard's inner lack of confidence. James Dreyfus played the
Subaltern. He and I had previously filmed together in Thin
INT. RICHARD'S MILITARY TRAIN - DAY
RICHARD and TYRELL race along the corridor
back to carriage headquarters. They are met by a RADIO OPERATOR
coming toward them, with another telegraph message.
Richmond is landed with a mighty power
from France -
(back in control)
Let's go to meet him! While we reason
A royal battle might be won or lost.
The train sets off.
Tyrell, give order 'Buck-ing-ham' be
TYRELL understands the unspoken order.
'Richmond is landed with a mighty power from
France - '?
EXT. RIVER THAMES MARSHES - EVENING
Near the wide estuary of a great waterway
is a decayed urban landscape, jutting out of waterlogged marshes,
where the river has flooded the flat land. Rough roads lead to
solitary, imposing electric pylons, whose sagging cables once
supplied now abandoned factories. Through the drizzle and
low-lying mist, are hulks of listing ships and rusting gasometers.
Seabirds scream and crows flap overhead.
From the English Channel, an armada of
amphibious landing craft is reaching shore. Military vehicles and
tanks churn ashore through the waves. RICHMOND, in naval
battlegear, steps on land.
LORD STANLEY, in RAF uniform, BRACKENBURY
and the ARCHBISHOP are waiting to welcome the invader.
Fortune and victory be with you,
As they all stride forward onto drier
ground, LORD STANLEY hands a telegram for RICHMOND to read.
(as he reads)
The Queen has heartily consented
That I marry Princess Elizabeth.
ARCHBISHOP England rejoice.
Prepare your advance early in the
On your side I may not be too forward,
Your cousin George is held in custody.
The wretched, bloody and usurping
I doubt not but his friends will turn
He has no friends.
|scene 104. This description of
mine was based on RL's imagination. Initially it was hoped to film
in the Beckton Marshes in east London which Stanley Kubrick used
for the battle scenes of Full Metal Jacket (1987). But the
ground these days is declared unsafe for heavy traffic and so we
used the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, where seabirds are protected
on 585 acres of shingle beach, wet gravel pits and farmland.
'Fortune and victory be with you, nephew.' In the play.
Henry Richmond is son to the Countess of Richmond, through whose
blood-line he will claim the throne. On his mother's marriage to
Stanley, he becomes Stanley's stepson. It seemed less confusing to
call him Stanley's nephew in the film. By appointing him Naval
Lieutenant, he could lead a credible military attack from France.
Because of his class and his uniform, Richmond is trusted by the
Establishment. His insubstantial right to the throne is never
questioned: but then there is no other obvious pretender and
Richard's universal unpopularity is a huge advantage to any
'The Queen has heartily consented That I marry Princess
In the play, this welcome news is delivered to Richmond across
the battlelines by Stanley's messenger (4.5).
'I doubt not but his friends will turn to you.'
Shakespeare keeps Brackenbury at his post in The Tower. In the
film, we needed to show that Richmond had some recognisable
supporters. So Brackenbury, guilty about the deaths of the princes
in his charge, has decided to take the gamble and join Richmond's
'He has no friends.' This line is spoken over a distant
view of Richard's encampment. The distinctive silhouette of
Battersea Power Station was electronically superimposed on the
EXT. RICHARD'S ENCAMPMENT - NIGHT
Some miles inland from RICHMOND'S
invasion, RICHARD'S forces are encamped around the armoured train.
His black-uniformed TROOPS are sheltered in improvised
bivouacs and canvas bell-tents, straining at their taut guy-ropes,
spattered by the drizzling rain. The marsh grass is turning to mud
under the boots of troops, the wheels of armoured vehicles and the
From far and near, men call to each other,
horses whinny, dogs bark, engines rev and a bugle sounds. This
could be Agincourt all over again - or the Crimea or the Somme.
|This could be Agincourt all over
again. Olivier shot his Agincourt in Ireland and his Battle
ofBosworth in Spain. I had originally imagined we would fight ours
in a rural landscape of mud. RL favoured an urban war-zone and so
he set Richard's camp in and around the largest disused building
in London, the Battersea Power Station, which for four decades
supplied the capital with electricity. Much of the insides have
been gutted but the outer structure is preserved by law. Plans for
its development as an entertainment centre have faltered for lack
of funds. Perhaps the film will encourage Londoners to care more
for one of our most distinctive landmarks. It could house an
exciting 'Richard III Ride' like at Disneyland or Universal
INT. CANVAS-ROOFED ARMY TRUCK - NIGHT
TYRELL at work, in the back of the truck
parked in the mud.
BUCKINGHAM is on his knees, trussed up. He
has been tortured. His clothes are torn, his body beaten and
TYRELL moves in to garrotte BUCKINGHAM.
Will not King Richard let me speak with
No, my good Lord.
Made I him King for this?
As TYRELL's wire tightens round
BUCKINGHAM'S neck we see familiar eyes reflected in the
driving-mirror. RICHARD is sitting unobserved in the passenger
seat. He watches as BUCKINGHAM'S life is choked from him.
Tyrell, why look you so sad?
|'Will not King Richard let me speak
with him?' Buckingham dies still not crediting that Richard
never needed him as much as he needed Richard.
Tyrell displays a varied repertoire of murder. In the film, he
cuts throats, stabs, hangs, smothers and here garrottes. In the
play, Richard does not witness this execution, nor even receive
confirmation of it, although Buckingham returns as a ghost in
INT. RICHARD'S CARRIAGE - NIGHT
A bed has been pulled down from the wall.
Otherwise, it's still the command centre as before.
RICHARD is seated, a little the worse for
TYRELL and RATCLIFFE are standing with him
- they are worried. CATESBY too.
My heart is ten times lighter than my
What is it o'clock?
It's supper-time. Your Majesty.
(emptying his glass and holding it out)
I will not sup tonight. What is the
number of the traitors?
(filling RICHARD'S glass)
Six or seven thousand. Your Majesty.
Why, our battalions treble that
Besides, the King's name is a tower of strength,
Stir with the lark tomorrow, gentle
TYRELL salutes and leaves.
(shouting as if CATESBY were outside)
(quietly at RICHARD'S side)
Send to Lord Stanley. Bid him bring his
Before sun-rising, lest his son George fall
Into the blind cave of eternal night Leave me.
CATESBY leaves with a nod to RATCLIFFE,
who salutes and turns to go. He turns to see RICHARD trying to
massage the pain out of his crippled arm. RICHARD looks up.
Leave me, I say.
RATCLIFFE, worried, leaves. RICHARD drinks
and closes his eyes.
scene 107. In the play, Richard twice asks tor wine
within eight lines, a clear indication that he is drinking too
much as he prepares his battle plans. Earlier he has struck the
Subaltern. No wonder Ratcliffe and Tyrell look apprehensive.
'lest his son George . . .' Stanley's son survives in
the play 'safe in Leicester town'. In the film, he can be glimpsed
sheltering from the confusion of battle in scene 121.
'I will.' In the play, Catesby is loyal to Richard to
the end, acting as an adjutant. In the film, he sees that
Richard's star is falling. Tim Mclnnerny chose this moment to
indicate that Catesby was leaving to consider his own future.
Richard does not notice.
Catesby's last lines from the play are shared by Tyrell and
Ratcliffe in scene 123.
INT. RICHMOND'S HEADQUARTERS - NIGHT
RICHMOND kneels with PRINCESS ELIZABETH in
front of a makeshift altar, presided over by the ARCHBISHOP. Holy
Communion has just been completed. QUEEN ELIZABETH looks on,
0 Lord, let Richmond and
By Your fair ordinance be joined together,
And let their heirs - God, if Thy will be so -
Enrich the time to come with smooth-faced peace.
RICHMOND gently kisses his bride-to-be and
then closes his eyes.
0 Thou, whose captain I account
Look on my forces with a gracious eye.
Put in their hands Thy bruising arms of wrath,
That we may praise Thee in Thy victory.
Sleeping and waking, 0, defend me still.
|scene 108. In the play. Queen
Elizabeth vanishes after her confrontation with Richard. RL and I
wanted to complete her story with one last glimpse of her revenge.
She is the principal survivor in the film.
'0 Lord, let Richmond and Elizabeth . . .' The marriage
of Richmond and Elizabeth is not in the play although their union
is announced in Richmond's closing speech (5.5) which here
provides the Archbishop's lines.
INT. RICHARD'S CARRIAGE - NIGHT
RICHARD lies restless in his bed. He turns
and flinches in his sleep. His eyes flicker and dart under the
INT. RICHARD'S NIGHTMARE OF DESPAIR
The deaths of RICHARD'S murdered victims
are re-enacted with the CAMERA as the victims' eyes. RICHARD sees
what they saw at the moment of their deaths.
is pushed under his bath water and a rush of
blood billows away from the CAMERA.
|scenes 111-15: Holinshed refers
to a 'dreadful and terrible dream which stuffed his head and
troubled his mind'. An earlier play, The True Tragedy of
Richard III (1594), which Shakespeare could have seen, has the
hero terrorised by 'my wounded conscience'. In his own play, the
young Shakespeare dares to present the dream onstage and then with
double daring to have it shared between Richard and Richmond. At
the RNT, the murdered figures moved between the two sleeping
commanders. Onscreen, such a dream could be easily effective.
However, our emphasis is laid on Richard's waking speech, his last
sees his chest pierced by his assailant's blade.
sees the hangman's noose placed over his head.
screen is covered by the red silk, as PRINCE JAMES
struggles as the garrotting-wire passes
RICHARD'S CARRIAGE - NIGHT
RICHARD tries to scream in his agony
of guilt but cannot,
he wakes up. He is sweating with fear.
did but dream! 0, coward conscience.
What do I fear? Myself? There's none else by
Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I.
looks nervously around at his empty carriage.
there a murderer here? No. Yes I am.
I love myself. But why? For any good
That I myself have done unto myself?
0 no. Alas, I rather hate myself,
For hateful deeds committed by myself.
I am a villain. Yet I lie — I am not.
Fool, of yourself speak well.
Fool, do not natter.
My conscience has a thousand, several tongues
Thronged to the bar, crying all: 'Guilty! Guilty!'
I shall despair. There is no creature loves me:
And if I die, no soul will pity me.
enters, disturbed by RICHARD'S outcry.
Majesty . . .
jumps at his voice.
Ratcliffe. Will all our friends prove true?
doubt. Your Majesty.
I fear ... I fear.
(daring to comfort him)
Your Majesty: be not afraid of shadows.
looks up into the reliable face of his faithful batman and smiles.
RICHARD'S himself again.
|scene 116. In the theatre, this
speech can get lost within the turbulent preparations for battle
which are more prolonged than in the film. Cinematic close-up
gives the speech its proper importance.
'Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I.' In a
remarkable speech, this is the most remarkable line. Throughout,
much of the 'full text' uses rhetorical devices of regular rhythm,
rhymes, repetitions and alliteration. Here Shakespeare's words are
as modern and as bleak as Samuel Beckett's. Apart from 'loves' and
the simple monosyllables 'that', 'is' and 'am', the rest is all
'Richard' by name or pronoun. The second 'I' is stressed by its
rhyme with 'by'. The line explains everything. Unloved from birth
by even his mother, he could only make sense of life by loving
himself and hating the rest of the world. Is this tragic?
Certainly he has visited tragedy on his victims and on their
survivors. His newfound conscience underlines a tragic sense of
'Oh Ratcliffe.' This was my first
opportunity to act with Bill Paterson, although I had worked with
his wife Hildegarde Beckler when she designed King
Lear, the production which partnered Richard III at
the RNT. He appeared in RL's The Vanishing Army, one of his many
films. I am always amazed at the masterly naturalism of Bill's
performances on stage, television and film. He usually insists on
acting with his native Scottish accent. Even so, he was
unforgettable as Harry The Horse in Richard Eyre's Guys and
Dolls at the RNT (1982).
RICHMOND'S ARMY ENCAMPMENT -
vale of mist drifts through the tented city. Trucks and tanks roar
into life as an orange sun rises over the bleak and
desolate shore. The army is on the move.
RICHMOND'S HEADQUARTERS -
ELIZABETH watches over the sleeping RICHMOND. He stirs as she
gently strokes his face.
have you slept, my Lord?
sweetest sleep, the fairest-boding dreams
That ever entered in a drowsy head.
RICHARD'S ENCAMPMENT - DAWN
steady drizzle. Tanks and armour churn through the
cloying mud. Men shout above the engines' roar. Like ants, each
with his purpose, RICHARD's forces prepare for battle.
RICHARD'S CARRIAGE - DAWN
is but a word that cowards use.
Remember whom you are to cope withall,
A sort of vagabonds, rascals and runaways.
And who does lead them but a paltry fellow:
If we be conquered, let men conquer us!
Let's whip these peasants over the seas again.
Shall these enjoy our lands? Lie with our wives?
Ravish our daughters?
turns to TYRELL, as he enters the carriage,
says Lord Stanley? Will he bring his force?
Lord, he has refused to come to you.
with his son George's head!
TYRELL or RATCLIFFE can reply or move, the
STANLEY'S forces have arrived to bomb the hell out of RICHARD and
his troops. An almighty explosion shatters the end of the
carriage. The battle has begun.
|scene 120. I was nervous about
being close to the controlled explosion within the carriage,
particularly when I saw an ambulance waiting outside the studio.
Jim Dowdall, who brilliantly and safely co-ordinated all the
stunts, reassured me that this precaution was quite usual - as was
my reaction to it. The pyrotechnics were at the far end of the
carriage, away from Bill Paterson and me. We had our backs to the
shattered, imitation glass in the foreground and only had to make
sure we fell safely to the floor as the carriage was rocked
sharply to one side.
RICHARD'S ENCAMPMENT - DAY
The surprise attack of STANLEY'S bombers has
wreaked havoc. Through the murk of smoke and flame, in and
around the huge, empty buildings, Richard's SOLDIERS
are in confusion. Everything dreadful about war is felt in
appalling sights and sounds.
of panic, fear and death.
MARSH LAND - DAY
RICHMOND and his ARMOURED TROOPS proceed across the difficult
ground toward RICHARD'S forces. Tanks, artillery, armoured cars,
even horses, anything to convey the invasion relentlessly onward.
EXT. RICHARD'S HEADQUARTERS - DAY
Many of the buildings and the armoured
train are ablaze from the bombing. The sky is black with acrid
RICHARD is magnificent as he tries to
rally his troops. When there is a second devastating attack from
the air, RICHARD mans a machine-gun and fires at the planes.
He jumps into an armoured vehicle, which
RATCLIFFE revs into life. But its heavy wheels churn the
rain-soaked mud and sink lower into it. There is no way out.
A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a
RATCLIFFE still revs the engine, as he
sees TYRELL plodding towards RICHARD'S vehicle.
Rescue! James Tyrell, rescue! Rescue!
(opening the vehicle's door)
Escape, Your Majesty! I'll help you to
RICHARD levels his revolver and fires
point blank into TYRELL'S face.
Still the wheels sink into the mud.
As RICHARD clambers down, RICHMOND'S
troops are within sight.
A quick, final decision. RICHARD will defy
the inevitable. He races away from RATCLIFFE, through explosions
and enemy fire, toward the vast shell of a burning bombed-out
building. Behind we see RATCLIFFE and the armoured vehicle blown
high into the air.
RICHMOND'S own command vehicle is pushing
through the smoke, like a hunter.
RICHARD mans a machine-gun . . . Each
military vehicle was painted with a number and 'R III'.
'A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!' Onstage I
fought the battle in full medieval armour, despite the 30s
setting. In my first draft of the screenplay I wrote:
RICHARD limps out of the smoke, a banner in his hand, from
helmet to toe in silver armour. A heavenly romantic fanfare, as
the sounds of battle fade at this vision of chivalry.
A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!
RICHMOND, a 20th-century commando takes aim. His bullet
explodes on RICHARD'S head. RICHARD collapses in the mud and
dies instantly, ingloriously. RICHMOND'S boot turns RICHARD
over, now in modem black.
This might just have worked had my description of the battle
been more specific:
Through the murk of mist and smoke, it is impossible to tell
the progress of the battle.
To be sure, Shakespeare is not much more helpful:
Alarum: excursions. Forces fighting. Alarum. Enter Richard
with Richmond; they fight; Richard is slain.
I left it to RL to invent the progression of the battle in its
modem urban setting. His instructions were hand-drawn on a
'story-board', like a kid's comic, so we could all understand each
detail between Richard's last line in the play and his last line
in the film.
'Escape? Slave!' cf. the anonymous The True Tragedy of
Richard III (1594):
King: A horse, a horse, a fresh horse.
Page: Ah fly my lord and save your life.
King: Fly villain? Look I as though I would fly? No!
Onstage, at the suggestion that Richard should withdraw, I hit
out at the speaker. Richard has nothing left but his bravery.
Catesby has gone, Ratcliffe is dying and now the other faithful
follower, the reliable Tyrell, suggests deserting the battle. It
is time for Richard to be entirely on his own.
BOMBED-OUT BUILDING - DAY
the shell of a massive abandoned factory, the
bombing has set ruptured fuel tanks alight. Thick smoke mingles
with billowing red clouds of burning oil.
stumbles through the tangle of girders and smashed concrete,
looking for a route up to some vantage point, to fire on RICHMOND.
He looks up at the sagging girders on which he could climb to what
remains of the roof.
scene 124. From here to the end very little
is what it seems to be. With the exception of the distant figure
limping along the uppermost girder (my double, Dave Cronnelly) and
the final fall, the rest is me but rarely at the apparent distance
from terra firma.
BOMBED-OUT BUILDING - DAY
troops are arriving thick and fast and slaughtering any remaining
defenders in hand-to-hand
and his PLATOON carefully enter the building, looking for RICHARD.
BOMBED-OUT BUILDING - DAY
is clambering up the steel girders.
spies him and, covered by his PLATOON,
is not disabled. He is younger than
and is soon advancing on him. Neither soldier
can get a clear sighting of the other.
hundred feet up, RICHARD drags himself onto a
grasp, lost into the flame and smoke below.
realises that there is no possible way further up - or below him.
RICHMOND climbs nearer.
pulls himself level with RICHARD. He prepares to fire at the
sitting target, the throne only a bullet away.
(smilingly challenging at RICHMOND)
to it pell-mell,
If not to Heaven, then hand-in-hand to Hell!
steps calmly out into space. At exactly the same moment RICHMOND
pulls the trigger.
body falls and spins in slow motion toward the burning hell below.
OVER: Images of RICHARD'S body as it falls
through the hell of smoke and flames.
|'Let's to it pell-mell,
If not to Heaven, then hand-in-hand to Hell!'
This couplet is from Richard's rallying speech to his officers
before the battle (5.3). In the play, Richard's final line is a
repetition of 'A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!'
It was RL's plausible suggestion that Richard should commit
suicide - Richmond's bullet is superfluous as its target falls to
his certain hellish death in the flames below.
As Richmond then usurps Richard's privilege and smiles into the
camera, are we to be charmed and relieved that he is ready to
rule? It is unimaginable that King Richmond might copy Richard's
unique wickedness. Yet, Richmond's grin is unsettling. He has more
conviction than Fortinbras, Malcolm, Edgar, who, exhausted, pick
up the pieces elsewhere in Shakespeare. The future is a question
mark. I don't suppose there was much dancing in the streets of
Berlin on VE Day.
When RL invited me to see the first rough-cut of Richard III
at the studios of Interact in west London a month after shooting,
I relished the double irony of the Al Jolson song which he had
overlaid on the final frames of his film. Richmond and Richard,
simultaneously feel, in the moment when their fates collide, that
they are sitting on top of the world.