The Mirror and the Rascal, from Shakespeare’s Richard III

Table of Contents

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The idea of ​​the film

“The Mirror and the Rascal” is not an “easy” film. The choice of the subject in itself invites a problematic approach, of reflection and finding of meanings. Already the historical drama does not lend itself to remakes and re-elaborations, it is a “perfect” theatrical text in its uncomfortable coherence.

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It is a text, even only from the literary-narrative point of view, very tangled, with dozens of characters and psychologies that follow one another, overlap and disappear, debating in events, many of which actually happened, and many others instead pure dramatic invention, that the current viewer with great difficulty is able to reconstruct and contextualize, both in the chronological aspects and in the psycho-social, cultural and anthropological ones.

The figure of Richard III migrates from historical effectiveness to dramatic representation, and in Shakespeare almost alone he dresses up, standing out as an absolute paradigm – not a man, but the embodiment of a metaphysical impiety – which looms and stands out over human vicissitudes .

In short, the Scespirian “Richard III” is not something you make a film out of it simply by putting together the pieces of a story and in such a way that the viewer in that story gets to know it and maybe gets passionate about it. You can’t make a “normal” movie out of it.

The only thing that can be done is to interpret the work. Which means letting the work enter your life, into your person, into your way of thinking and feeling the world, and then you pull out of itself from the bowels of your deep self, you shape yourself in the gesture, in the expressions, in the looks, you accompany yourself in speaking with your voice, you represent yourself through you. This also explains the profusion of roles, garments and functions that Valerio de Filippis covers in the making of the film.

The director

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Director, screenwriter and set designer, composer of the soundtrack, editing and post-production technician, finally leading actor, de Filippis cuts upon himself, and displaces himself, all the phases and skills of its implementation , with an acrobatic generosity that leaves you amazed.

The Indie film by De Filippis cannot be compared with any of the reinterpretations that have been produced of the tragedy, both in a filmic and theatrical key. Moreover, in almost all the more or less renowned and more or less successful precedents, the dramatic tension is mainly placed on the “political” implications of Riccardo’s existential story, which certainly facilitates his “narrativity”.

Therefore, everything is essentially brought back to the metaphor of the destructive thirst for power of the human being, of his individual and collective harmfulness, and Riccardo is the sordid, deceiving and repulsive being who plots and acts to send to death all those who stand in the way. between him and the coveted throne of England. Riccardo’s depravity is so functional to the ethical-political message that the latter was naturally taken as a guideline to link the scenes together and guide the narrative development.

But that’s not what de Filippis mainly seems to have interested in. And, to be honest, his film pays the price to a large extent. It is evident in fact that the director does not care to “tell the story”, so often the viewer really finds himself thrown from one situation to another, and at the cost of a continuous, sometimes unnerving, effort he has to reconstruct the developments himself and the link between the scenic actions.

The style of the film

But if this is the limit of this independent film, on closer inspection it is to be considered a necessary limit. From a formal point of view, we see that de Filippis thinks his film as a painter, and builds each scene, therefore, as a picture is built, in a certain sense closing it in on itself, in its success and conclusion.

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The taste then, but first of all the voluntariness, of transferring the drama into a dimension of surreality, of detaching the meaning of what happens on the stage from any semblance of mere objectivity, leads to making the connections vague and fleeting, to suspend each ” normal “dynamic within and not beyond its own field of forces, without place, without time, without stringent causality and consequentiality.

De Filippis invents situations that “are not located” anywhere, and which precisely for this reason are anchored to the real points of reference of the scenic action, that is, the dialogues, relationships, distances and alternations between the characters and their representation contingent and vacuous, like ghosts, apparitions, essences to inhabit distinct rooms of a lucid dream delirium.

In short, this disjointed process marks the terms of a dialogic and psychological accumulation, it is a word that charges or soothes tensions in a sudden and harsh succession. The fact, for example, that the dialogues take place in the original language, with very few and very reasoned variations from the authentic drafting of the drama, is not an ostentation of philological attention as an end in itself, but is due to the severe connection that de Filippis has established to maintain between the form and its content. Indeed, that very form coincides as a manifestation of the talkative and grave force that acts in the disturbing atmosphere of the scenes.

It is the musicality of this beating language that activates the factual and psychic mechanisms within the individual sequences, enhanced by a recitation that the director wanted precisely for this rhythmic and metric, where the words rest their logical sense on their own sound and on the scansion of accents, a flexion that bends expressions and thoughts to itself and thus their tragic, dull, hypnotic degree of cadence.

It is accompanied by musical pieces, always composed by de Filippis, which are very well constructed on the emotional tones of the individual scenes and thus highlight their significance and meanings. Not a real soundtrack, given that they are single independent songs and there is no basic unity; therefore they too contribute to that adaptive fragmentation that upsets and multiplies the levels of reading.

The core of de Filippis’ film therefore lies in framing this character beyond the scenes and fiction, as well as beyond generic allegories about the human condition and soul. It is a film that leaves a lasting trace, a trail of visual impressions and synaptic ignitions to sweep away the common criteria of judgment and expectations. Which would also be natural, given that every film, indeed every work of art, is a revolutionary act aimed at subverting what is known and seen, it is a heroic heresy of truth and custom, it is a production for the ‘unexpected. “The Mirror and the Rascal” does this.

Francesco Giulio Farachi

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