Ian McKellen Official Home Page

 Screenplay by Ian McKellen and Richard Loncraine

Scenes 14, 15, 16 



The Victory Ball is in full swing. 50 SERVANTS ply champagne to the 250 GUESTS.

The white-tuxedoed 20-PIECE BAND is at the climax of an Al Bowley set.

A foxtrot starts up and the smiling KING EDWARD leads his radiant QUEEN ELIZABETH onto the floor. KING EDWARD good-humouredly shows off a little fancy footwork.

LORD HASTINGS, the Prime Minister, is talking to the DUCHESS OF YORK, who sits upright on a gilt armchair. PRINCE JAMES is restless in his seat. PRINCESS ELIZABETH is entranced by the occasion, particularly when she is introduced to a dashing, young, naval officer, HENRY RICHMOND.

LORD STANLEY is present with his wife, LADY STANLEY, who is tending to their 6-year-old son, GEORGE.

Everyone is smiling and well-pleased. They'd never guess that the ever-observant RICHARD, Abdulla in hand, is less than happy. He has a smile and a handshake for all who pass by.
The imposing DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM, with cigar and brandy, greets RICHARD with a broad smile and immense self-confidence.

scene 14. We filmed on weekdays in a working church in West London, St Cuthbert's (designed by Hugh Romeo Gough in 1884) whose roof leaks. Some ecclesiastical statuary can be seen behind the royal dais. 

In my first draft, I had introduced the principal character, at a Guildhall Banquet given by the Lord Mayor of London in honour of King Edward and the victorious York family. RL was keen to avoid too many medieval settings and opted for a more private celebration onboard the royal yacht, as it steamed up the Thames. This would have involved the design and erection of a prohibitively expensive studio set.

PRINCESS ELIZABETH does not appear in the play and Richmond has to wait until act 5 scene 2 for his first entrance. Here the future king and queen clearly fancy each other - the sort of wholesomely sexy couple who make Richard feel inadequate. Richmond, born into the Establishment, moves confidently within the circles of power.

Duke of Buckingham and Richard Gloucester. We wanted these two allies to be associated with each other as early as possible. A previous idea was to introduce Buckingham in his workplace - an airline or newspaper-group headquarters, perhaps. Here he looks like an ornament at this important event. How well can you ever know such a man? Maybe Buckingham retires each night to a lonely bed in Mayfair. Richard works out that Buckingham is greedy and greed is at the basis of their partnership. Not that Buckingham should need bribing to be involved as Richard's agent or kingmaker. He loves the sweet-talking and the civilised intrigue. Meanwhile they smile together.



20 Rolls Royces are lined up. RATCLIFFE and the other liveried CHAUFFEURS are passing round the Craven As. Dance music continues from indoors.

EARL RIVERS steps out of his limousine, doffs his top-hat and looks up at the palatial facade. He whistles with admiration: Sis has done very well for herself. He is fulsomely greeted by the MAJOR DOMO, who has been waiting for him at the front door.



RICHARD moves slowly through the throng.

Everyone watches delightedly as the little PRINCE JAMES dances on his mother's toes.

CLARENCE is taking snaps.

The QUEEN suddenly spots her brother EARL RIVERS and sweeping the young prince up in her arms, she rushes to greet him.

SIR WILLIAM CATESBY, the monarch's permanent private secretary, leans over KING EDWARD'S chair and they look toward CLARENCE, whose photography is interrupted by an urgent, private request from LIEUTENANT SIR ROBERT BRACKENBURY, in Chief Constable's uniform. TWO MILITARY STRONGMEN, looking uncomfortable in civilian evening dress, are in attendance.

As CLARENCE is politely led away, he looks toward his brother KING EDWARD, who asthmatically coughs and turns his attention back to the jovial RIVERS, who is now seated with the royal party. Apart from CATESBY and the royal brothers, KING EDWARD and RICHARD, everyone seems to have missed the whole episode.

RICHARD watches his brother CLARENCE being led out. Then he skirts round the dancers, to have a word with the BAND LEADER. The music ends with a flourish and the Royals settle in their seats. The whole company turns toward RICHARD, as he clears his throat and scratches the mesh of the singer's microphone.

scene 16. Shakespeare included nearly a hundred songs in his plays, although there are none in Richard ///. I scoured these and his 154 love sonnets to find a lyric that might be appropriate for a 30s pastiche. The lyrics which were chosen are by Christopher Marlowe but have been attributed to Shakespeare. 

Come live with me and be my love
And we will all the pleasures prove... 

The Victory Ball was shot in only two days, after which I couldn't get Trevor Jones' catchy 30s tune out of my head. It had been pre-recorded and relayed over and over. as Stacey Kent mimed to her own voice.

I asked for Shakespeare's initials to be on the dance-band's music stands. liked Colin Good's resemblance to a young Jack Payne or Glen Miller. 


Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York!

"sun of York" is an ironic triple pun, referring to two sons of the victorious York Family - the new King Edward and his commander-in- chief, Richard himself.
RICHARD toasts the smiling, new King. KING EDWARD regally acknowledges the laughter and applause of his family, friends and national leaders from politics and commerce. RICHARD'S first speech begins as a public announcement. By using a measured and slightly declamatory tone, I wanted to draw attention to the formality of language appropriate to public address, even in a modern setting, in the hope that the ear might quickly be attuned to Shakespeare's verse. Richard III is certainly a talkie, in which the words are paramount.


And all the clouds that loured upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.

'And all the clouds that loured upon our house . . .' With the repeated 'ow's and 'm's, Richard draws attention to his oratorical skills.

'Delightful measures' was the clue that we should see a dance, in which Richard does not participate.

APPLAUSE as RICHARD smiles. The popular war-leader is working well in these civilian surroundings.

HASTINGS smiles, satisfied; the ARCHBISHOP looks benignly content.

The appreciative audience misses RICHARD'S irony, with the exception of BUCKINGHAM, who listens intently and quizzically, puffing on his Havana and sipping his Napoleon 5-star.


Grim-visaged war has smoothed his wrinkled front:
And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds,
To fight the souls of fearful adversaries
He ...

'and now . . .' The camera moves in for a big close-up revealing Richard's rotten lower-teeth and his discoloured left eye as the mood of the speech changes.

'barbed steeds' are the cavalry's armoured horses, suggesting Richard's romantic view of war. Horses later appear throughout the battle scenes.

SCENES 17-34