Many years ago an aunt with intellectual snobbery affectations decided my similar age cousin and I, a couple of grubby boys of 12-ish or so were sorely lacking in ‘cultcha’ so she bought us a couple of movie tickets. Ev
We were delighted. Always game for a freebie movie back in the days when money was very scarce indeed. What we didn’t know was that she bought us tickets to bloody Shakespeare. Shakespeare, with all that odd language that we couldn’t understand what with all the “forsooths” and the like.
But, if you want to hit kids with the Bard, then choose one of the bloody plays, and she did well as what we got was the Olivier version of Richard III. Evil little prince murdering, drown the heir in a butt of malmsey, screw your brother’s wife, Richard. I mean, we had no idea what this stuff was about, but Oliviers brutal and sinister Richard made the trip so worthwhile, and the Bosworth Field battle scene with all the “my kingdom for a horse” stuff made us forget they were indulging in a weird way of talking. This was exciting stuff.
Of course the Olivier version followed Shakespeare’s play script to a T and hence was filled with massive anti-Richard bias. And Olivier rendered the character as a virtual arch-fiend given to murdering pretty young boys in the Tower and such, as per Shakespeare’s wont.
Now, Shakespeare was a smart marketer. He knew that it was well to get on the good side of the monarch of the day and to rally to the absolute legitimacy of His Lady Sovereign, Elizabeth I. To do so he had to render Richard the Third as essentially Richard the Turd. So the last Yorkist king in the Wars of the Roses (which ended with Richard’s defeat at Bosworth) had to be rendered the vicious swine of all time. He not only murdered with impunity and cruelty, but he was made physically repellant, with a hunched back and who scuttled in a kind of crablike manner, all to make the victor, the Lancastrian Henry VII Tudor look like a hero. And since he was Elizabeth’s granddaddy, it seemed prudent.
But, to many scholars Richard got a bad rap and when his bones were discovered (after their ignominious burial) in a Leicester carpark a while ago, it was decided it was time to end the dirty pool and give him a proper royal send-off and burial.
And that was what happened with the man who was, for good or bad, one of the Queen’s kin predecessors, and he was laid-to-rest following a right royal ceremony at Leicester Cathedral on March 22nd. And he was given a proper sendoff by none other than Benedict Cumberbatch.
I think he would have liked that, especially since there was no mention about what happened to those poor young princes.