Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Archaeologists find Richard III: deformed, unfinished, sent before his time

By Michael J.W. Stickings


You'll know him from Shakespeare, if not so much from history, given that Shakespeare was playing loose with the facts, but oh, so quotable he was:

But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks, 
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass; 
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty 
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph; 
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion, 
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature, 
Deformed, unfinish'd, sent before my time 
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up, 
And that so lamely and unfashionable 
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them; 
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace, 
Have no delight to pass away the time, 
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun 
And descant on mine own deformity: 
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover, 
To entertain these fair well-spoken days, 
I am determined to prove a villain 
And hate the idle pleasures of these days. 

This following the famous "winter of our discontent" line.

Well, much mystery has surrounded the end of Richard III, but it appears that at long last he has been found:

A skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park has been confirmed as that of English king Richard III.

Experts from the University of Leicester said DNA from the bones matched that of descendants of the monarch's family.

Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, from the University of Leicester, told a press conference to applause: "Beyond reasonable doubt it's Richard."

Richard, killed in battle in 1485, will be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral.

Yes, poor Richard, such an ignoble end, killed in battle and ending up under a car park.

But really, what a truly remarkable find -- I encourage you to read Slate, The Guardian, the Times, and the BBC article quoted above, among others -- and how fortuitious for Criterion, which is set to release the 1955 Laurence Olivier film in April. (It's already on my wish list, but I think I'll move it up a few notches.)

Here's the famous speech -- from the very good (and very different) Ian McKellen version of 1995:

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1 Comments:

  • I like Richard's death. He is the last King of England to die in battle. I'm not a big fan of warriors, but if you are going to take men to war, you ought to be willing to get in the thick of it. Richard fought valiantly by all accounts. (One, actually.)

    That is a nice telling of R3 with McKellen. Like most good renderings of Shakespeare, it savages of the text. And as much as I like it, the truth is that Richard is nothing more than Snidely Whiplash with a crown. Like Iago and pretty much all of Shakey's villains, he's evil because he is. "Since I cannot prove a lover, to entertain these fair well spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain"? Really? The cool kids don't like me so I will kill them all?! Come now.

    In Shakespeare's defense, at that time the real Richard had pretty much been wiped from history by the Tudors. So he really was thought to be evil and deformed. (Admittedly, he was evil, but not particularly more than, say, Henry V, who Shakey turns into a saint.)

    Did you see any of the news on the reconstruction of his face. He's kind of a pretty boy. Better looking than McKellen!

    Richard III: With Reconstruction, a Tyrant Gets a Friendlier Face

    By Anonymous Frank Moraes, at 6:41 PM  

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