I seem to be on a bit of a Shakespeare binge. I just finished watching the excellent Hollow Crown mini series and here I am, watching a making-of documentary about the recent Richard III stage play by Kevin Spacey and Sam Mendes, and next on my list is Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear in the form of the 1985 epic, Ran.
One of the very first things about this truly that struck a chord and absolutely fascinated me was the phenomenal wardrobe Spacey had for his version of Richard. The flamboyant military look was quite a captivating sight to behold, and interestingly it apparently took much of its inspiration from the now late Muammar Gaddafi, which makes sense. Gaddafi, if anything, knew how to dress lavishly. The fake support straps for the knee also were a very cool visual cue for his limping. And that’s before you see Spacey move while wearing it. My God, on stage in his entire get up, it’s as if he’s actually gotten inside Richard III’s skin. It’s no wonder his Frank Underwood in Netflix’s House of Cards is so great, going by this 2012 stage play that took place just prior to Spacey shooting the first season of House of Cards, Kevin was clearly very in touch with his inner sinister, Machiavellian power hungry despot.
As a documentary, it’s very well made. It’s highly entertaining, you learn a little and you get, to a degree, a nice sense of familiarity of certain members of the cast. It was also fun to hear the people involved with the stage play give their own opinions of the production and Shakespeare. They really managed to make such a novice as myself on all things Shakespeare become completely captivated by the play and practically fall in love with it, even though you only seeing mere snippets of the actual stage play being performed. It’s a truly remarkable show of the power that good theatre holds. I really loved all the scenes that showed the cast rehearsing the play, allowing you have a tiny glimpse of the work process that goes to creating the identity for the production. It was so fascinating. I lost count how many times I wished I could have been there to see the entire play done live, especially in the old amphitheater that was one of the many places the production was performed when they went on a world tour. I’m positive it would have been an absolutely forgettable experience to behold.