Monday, 13 December 2010

Best Actor 1956: Laurence Olivier in Richard III

Laurence Olivier received his fifth acting nomination for portraying the titular character in Richard III.

I think is a terrific Shakespearean film by Laurence Olivier, possibly even better than his also terrific Henry V. 

Laurence Olivier is simply one of the best Shakespearean actors, and he proves it once again in this performance of a rather different Shakespearean character. I first of all love what he looks like in this film. His elongated nose, his hump, that bizarre hair, I think it all adds to the oddness of Richard III as a character. A challenge of all performances of Shakespeare is the ability to properly handle and the ability to properly convey the language. As I said in Henry V's performance Olivier perfectly excels with the language. He makes it completely natural and native to be said by him, and he never at all seems for a second uncomfortable with any single speech he makes.

Laurence Olivier does not only speak the language impeccably but he also always does his best to help the non Shakespearean trained audience understand it in both his direction, and his means of conveying this in his speech. Olivier never just reads the lines but is always certain to convey all the emotions along with what the long passages of speech or dialogue. I was quite interested in his performance because Richard III is so incredibly different than Henry V. They are both Kings but become Kings in different ways, and almost everything else is different about them too. Olivier though is just as believable as the deformed Richard as he was as the normal Henry V.

Olivier is an actor I like best when he relaxes a little bit which he does in the devious role as Richard. Richard could be portrayed as an overly serious villain, but Olivier does something that prevents this and that is how he talks directly to the audience during his scheming speeches. He makes Richard interestingly playful, and I thought actually a fun villain to watch despite how severe his crimes can be. Laurence Olivier I found to be especially entertaining and effective throughout the film with his sly manner of moving around, and his constant scheming with his knowing face at all times.

Olivier creates a fascinating character with Richard who is always interesting to watch in any scene even when he is not the focus, or the man speaking in the scene. Olivier always keeps his presence known and always stays fascinating. He also is incredibly believable as Richard despite the complete bizarre nature of the character. I bought not only the characters evil and intent but also the ability of the character to perform his schemes in both in terms of the killing of his relatives, and his schemes involving the bed of women he desires even women who he has severely hurt. I completely believed the seduction of Lady Anne, which may be hard to take, but Olivier has a very strange charm as Richard.

Olivier's whole performance is brilliant but a few small moments I think truly showed his exceptional ability as Richard. One being his scene with his two nephews. He fakes the nice uncle for a point that is properly creepy but equally convincing at being able to have a facade. Olivier though is equally chilling when the true Richard is revealed when one of Richard's nephews unfortunately mentions his shoulder. His look he gives he gives the nephew is perfectly chilling. Olivier best scene may be Richard's final ones before his fateful battle. First being confronted by those he had killed or caused to die in a dream. Olivier brilliantly shows a pain showing the slightest concise, but he sheds guilt quickly with his odd speech before the battle almost an evil parody of Henry V's big speech. Finally his final moments on the field are simply perfect, as Richard loses everything quickly, and finally his brilliantly directed and acted death scene. Another great Shakespearean performance from Lord Olivier.


dinasztie said...

I knew you would like this one. He might win after all. I do not like Olivier's style that much.

Louis Morgan said...

Well everyone has specific preference of actors, he happens to be one of my favorites. I am glad you commented on Hudson, and Dean. The more comments the better.

Sage Slowdive said...

Haven't seen this one, unfortunately.