Ian McKellen Official Home Page

Screenplay by Ian McKellen and Richard Loncraine

Scenes 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126  



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 mobile headquarters.

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 my children?

RICHARD stops and turns to her. So do his bodyguards. QUEEN ELIZABETH is unabashed.


Where is my brother Rivers and your brother Clarence? 
Where is Lord Hastings?

(beckoning to QUEEN ELIZABETH) 


RICHARD signals his GUARDS to escort QUEEN ELIZABETH and PRINCESS ELIZABETH, like prisoners, toward the train.

(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 for steam.

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!


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.

SCENE 101 


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 carpeted floor.

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 live!

RICHARD offers her a chair. Battle commences.


Her life is safest only in her birth.


And only in that safety died her brothers.


You speak as if that I had slain the Princes.


No doubt the murderous knife was dull and blunt
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 yours
Than ever you or yours by me were harmed.


Tell me what state, what dignity, what honour
Can you bestow on any child of mine?


Even all I have; yes - and myself and all - 
Shall I with all, endow a child of yours.


Be brief, lest that the process of your kindness
Last longer telling than your kindness date.


Then know, that from my soul, I love your daughter. 
And do intend to make her Queen of England.

QUEEN ELIZABETH is appalled.


What, you?


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 brothers -
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 way 
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 her?


Well then, she cannot choose but hate you.


Look - what is done cannot be now amended.
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 sons, 
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 go:
Make bold her bashful years, with your
Acquaint the Princess
With the sweet, silent hours of marriage joys. And when these troops of mine have chastised The petty rebel Richmond and dull-brained
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 Queen.


To wail the title, as her mother does.


Say - I will love her everlastingly.


But how long fairly shall her sweet life last?


As long as Heaven and nature lengthen it.


As long as Hell and Richard like of it.


Your reasons are too shallow and too quick.


Oh, no. My reasons are too deep and dead. 
Too deep and dead, my infants, in their graves.


Harp not on that string. Madam, that is past.


Harp on it still, shall I, till heartstrings break.

(sotto voce)

I know that Richmond aims to wed Elizabeth. 
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 them, 
Where, in that nest of spicery, they shall breed.


Shall I go win my daughter to your will?


And be a happy mother by the deed.


Write to me very shortly, And you shall understand from me her mind.

(stopping her) 

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 rival.

'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 attendant miseries.

'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 the screenplay.

'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.

SCENE 102 


PRINCESS ELIZABETH rushes away from her GUARDS to QUEEN ELIZABETH'S embrace.

(standing at the carriage door, to CAMERA) 

Relenting fool! And shallow, changing woman!

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 RICHARD'S carriage.


Lord Stanley, what news?

(saluting and nervous) 

None good. Your Majesty: nor none so bad -


Hoyday, a riddle! Neither good nor bad? 
Once more, what news?


Richmond is on the seas.


Then be the seas on him! What does he there?

RICHARD steps down and proceeds along the platform, followed by LORD STANLEY.


Your Majesty, I know not - but by guess.


Well, as you guess?


Stirred up by Buckingham, He makes for England, here to claim the crown.


Is the throne empty? Is the King dead? 
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 George. 
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 message.


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 prisoner!'


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 (1972).

'Richmond is on the seas' was my clue for making him a naval Lieutenant.

'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 in charge.

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 Leicester Square.'

'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 Ice (1994).

SCENE 103 


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 here, 
A royal battle might be won or lost.

The train sets off.


Tyrell, give order 'Buck-ing-ham' be brought.

TYRELL understands the unspoken order.

'Richmond is landed with a mighty power from France - '?


SCENE 104 


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, nephew.

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 morning. 
On your side I may not be too forward, 
Your cousin George is held in custody.


The wretched, bloody and usurping swine!


I doubt not but his friends will turn to you.


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 determined opponent.

'The Queen has heartily consented That I marry Princess Elizabeth.'

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 invasion.

'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 horizon.


SCENE 105 


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 horses' hooves.

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 Studios!
SCENE 106 


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 bruised.

TYRELL moves in to garrotte BUCKINGHAM.


Will not King Richard let me speak with him?


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 Richard's nightmare.

SCENE 107 


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 drink.

TYRELL and RATCLIFFE are standing with him - they are worried. CATESBY too.


My heart is ten times lighter than my looks.


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 account. 
Besides, the King's name is a tower of strength,

(dismissing TYRELL) 

Stir with the lark tomorrow, gentle Tyrell.


Your Majesty.

TYRELL salutes and leaves.

(shouting as if CATESBY were outside) 


(quietly at RICHARD'S side) 

Your Majesty?


Send to Lord Stanley. Bid him bring his force 
Before sun-rising, lest his son George fall 
Into the blind cave of eternal night Leave me.


I will.

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.

(continuing; sternly) 

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.



SCENE 108 


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, satisfied.


0 Lord, let Richmond and Elizabeth 
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 myself, 
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.


SCENE 109 


RICHARD lies restless in his bed. He turns and flinches in his sleep. His eyes flicker and dart under the closed lids.

SCENE 110 


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.

SCENE 111 

CLARENCE 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 to camera.
SCENE 112 

RIVERS sees his chest pierced by his assailant's blade.

SCENE 113 

HASTINGS sees the hangman's noose placed over his head.

SCENE 114 

The screen is covered by the red silk, as PRINCE JAMES is smothered.

SCENE 115 

BUCKINGHAM struggles as the garrotting-wire passes driving-mirror.

SCENE 116 


RICHARD tries to scream in his agony of guilt but cannot, until he wakes up. He is sweating with fear.


I did but dream! 0, coward conscience.
What do I fear? Myself? There's none else by
Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I.

He looks nervously around at his empty carriage.


Is 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.

RATCLIFFE enters, disturbed by RICHARD'S outcry.


Your Majesty . . .

RICHARD jumps at his voice.


Oh Ratcliffe. Will all our friends prove true?  


No doubt. Your Majesty.


Ratcliffe, I fear ... I fear.

(daring to comfort him)

No, Your Majesty: be not afraid of shadows.

RICHARD 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 waste.

'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).

SCENE 117 


A 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.

SCENE 118 


PRINCESS ELIZABETH watches over the sleeping RICHMOND. He stirs as she gently strokes his face.


How have you slept, my Lord?


The sweetest sleep, the fairest-boding dreams
That ever entered in a drowsy head.

SCENE 119 


A 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.

SCENE 120 



Conscience 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:
A milksop!
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?

RICHARD turns to TYRELL, as he enters the carriage,


What says Lord Stanley? Will he bring his force?


My Lord, he has refused to come to you.


Off with his son George's head!

Before 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.

SCENE 121 


Chaos. 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.

Screams of panic, fear and death.  

SCENE 122 


Steadily, 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.

SCENE 123 


Many of the buildings and the armoured train are ablaze from the bombing. The sky is black with acrid smoke.

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 horse!

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 a horse!


Escape? Slave!

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.


SCENE 124 


Inside the shell of a massive abandoned factory, the devastating bombing has set ruptured fuel tanks alight. Thick smoke mingles with billowing red clouds of burning oil.

RICHARD 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.

SCENE 125 


RICHMOND'S troops are arriving thick and fast and slaughtering any remaining defenders in hand-to-hand combat.

RICHMOND and his PLATOON carefully enter the building, looking for RICHARD.

SCENE 126 


RICHARD is clambering up the steel girders.

RICHMOND spies him and, covered by his PLATOON,

RICHMOND is not disabled. He is younger than RICHARD and is soon advancing on him. Neither soldier can get a clear sighting of the other.

One hundred feet up, RICHARD drags himself onto a grasp, lost into the flame and smoke below.

RICHARD realises that there is no possible way further up - or below him. RICHMOND climbs nearer.

RICHMOND pulls himself level with RICHARD. He prepares to fire at the sitting target, the throne only a bullet away.

(smilingly challenging at RICHMOND)

Let's to it pell-mell,
If not to Heaven, then hand-in-hand to Hell!

RICHARD steps calmly out into space. At exactly the same moment RICHMOND pulls the trigger.

RICHARD'S body falls and spins in slow motion toward the burning hell below.

TITLES 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.