15 user 1 critic

Richard II (1978)

King Richard the Second (original title)
The incompetent King Richard II is deposed by Henry Bolingbroke and undergoes a crisis of identity once he is no longer King.


David Giles


William Shakespeare (play)


Learn more

More Like This 

As You Like It (TV Movie 1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

After the overthrowing of Duke Senior by his tyrannical brother, Senior's daughter Rosalind disguises herself as a man and sets out to find her banished father while also counseling her clumsy suitor Orlando in the art of wooing.

Director: Basil Coleman
Stars: Helen Mirren, Brian Stirner, Richard Pasco
Measure for Measure (TV Movie 1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

When the Duke of Vienna takes a mysterious leave of absence and leaves the strict Angelo in charge, things couldn't be worse for Claudio, who is sentenced to death for premarital sex. His ... See full summary »

Director: Desmond Davis
Stars: Kenneth Colley, Kate Nelligan, Tim Pigott-Smith
Troilus & Cressida (TV Movie 1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

During the Trojan War, a Trojan warrior is distraught when his lover takes up with a Greek.

Director: Jonathan Miller
Stars: Charles Gray, Anton Lesser, Tony Steedman
The Merchant of Venice (TV Movie 1980)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A rich merchant, Antonio is depressed for no good reason, until his good friend Bassanio comes to tell him how he's in love with Portia. Portia's father has died and left a very strange ... See full summary »

Director: Jack Gold
Stars: John Franklyn-Robbins, John Rhys-Davies, Alan David
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (TV Movie 1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Hamlet suspects his uncle has murdered his father to claim the throne of Denmark and the hand of Hamlet's mother, but the Prince cannot decide whether or not he should take vengeance.

Director: Rodney Bennett
Stars: Derek Jacobi, Claire Bloom, Patrick Stewart
Macbeth I (TV Movie 1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Macbeth and his wife murder Duncan in order to gain his crown, but the bloodbath doesn't stop there, and things supernatural combine to bring the Macbeths down.

Director: Jack Gold
Stars: Brenda Bruce, Eileen Way, Anne Dyson
Twelfth Night (TV Movie 1980)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Viola and Sebastian are lookalike twins, separated by a shipwreck. Viola lands in Illyria, where she disguises herself like her brother and goes into the service of the Duke Orsino. Orsino ... See full summary »

Director: John Gorrie
Stars: Alec McCowen, Robert Hardy, Felicity Kendal
Richard III (TV Movie 1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Richard of Gloucester uses murder and manipulation to claim England's throne.

Director: Jane Howell
Stars: Peter Benson, Antony Brown, David Burke
Henry V (TV Movie 1979)
Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In the midst of the Hundred Years' War, the young King Henry V of England embarks on the conquest of France in 1415.

Director: David Giles
Stars: John Abineri, Robert Ashby, Trevor Baxter
The Two Gentlemen of Verona (TV Movie 1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

In 16th century Italy, two inseparable friends suddenly become rivals for the love of a noblewoman.

Director: Don Taylor
Stars: Frank Barrie, Tessa Peake-Jones, Hetta Charnley
Othello (TV Movie 1981)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

General Othello (Sir Anthony Hopkins) becomes convinced that his wife is having an affair, even though there is no evidence.

Director: Jonathan Miller
Stars: Anthony Pedley, Bob Hoskins, Geoffrey Chater
Julius Caesar (TV Movie 1979)
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The assassination of the would be ruler of Rome at the hands of Brutus and company has tragic consequences for Brutus and the republic.

Director: Herbert Wise
Stars: Richard Pasco, Charles Gray, Keith Michell


Cast overview, first billed only:
Derek Jacobi ... Richard II
John Gielgud ... John of Gaunt
Jon Finch ... Henry Bolingbroke
Wendy Hiller ... Duchess of York
Charles Gray ... Duke of York
Mary Morris ... Duchess of Gloucester
David Swift ... Duke of Northumberland
Clifford Rose ... Bishop of Carlisle
Charles Keating ... Duke of Aumerle
Richard Owens ... Thomas Mowbray
Janet Maw Janet Maw ... Queen
Jeffrey Holland Jeffrey Holland ... Duke of Surrey
Jeremy Bulloch ... Henry Percy
Robin Sachs ... Bushy
Damien Thomas ... Bagot


The incompetent King Richard II is deposed by Henry Bolingbroke and undergoes a crisis of identity once he is no longer King.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

28 March 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: King Richard the Second See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


An interpretative move by Director David Giles, which was especially well received by critics was his division of King Richard II's lengthy prison cell soliloquy up into several sections, which fade from one to another, suggesting a passage of time, and an on-going slowly developing thought process. See more »


Henry Bolingbroke: My heart this covenant makes, my lips thus seals it.
See more »


Version of The Wars of the Roses: Richard II (1990) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Excellent, but for the hole in the center
5 August 2006 | by tonstant viewerSee all my reviews

Richard II is the setup for the cycle of history plays, and as such devotes much time to explication. So it can be a little dry compared with some other Shakespeare, and so it is here.

The cast is almost uniformly excellent. Jon Finch is a sturdy Bolingbroke, and Sir John Gielgud is memorable, speaking John of Gaunt's "This England" speech as if no one had ever spoken it before.

Charles Gray, usually a "damn-the-torpedos" scene stealer, here defers magnificently to Dame Wendy Hiller. When the two plead on their knees simultaneously for and against a royal pardon of their son, they teeter sublimely on the razor's edge of urgent melodrama and marital farce - an exquisite and very difficult moment.

The problem for me is a very intelligent, much praised performer who fails in the title role. Derek Jacobi often makes wise choices as he prepares and analyzes the text. Then he commits the actor's unpardonable sin of monitoring his own performance while delivering it. He winds up admiring his own work while doing it, which in serious drama is disgusting.

It is also a truism among actors that either the actor cries or the audience cries, but never both. Unfortunately Mr. Jacobi cries so much there's no reason for us to join in; he sheds enough tears for all of us, and we just sit and stare.

The other odd thing about Mr. Jacobi's delivery is his total lack of velocity. It doesn't matter whether he speaks quickly or slowly, loudly or softly, there's no movement, no snap, no impetus, no forward motion. Everything emerges from a thick, suet-y, pudding-like stillness, and he never actually manages to get from point A to point B - compare with Gielgud's performance in the same play, where the older man has lost his long breath, but manages to gallop nonetheless.

The BBC videos of Shakespeare's comedies and romances have much more engaging production design than the histories, but what we see here is perfectly adequate, if not arresting.

The all-important pacing is uneven, except for the scene of the handing over of the crown, which grinds to a dead halt. This last should have been tightened in the editing. Overall, tedium is not avoided, it's embraced.

So if you really think that Derek Jacobi is a great Shakespearian actor, don't mind me, just plunge right in without hesitation.

I personally would rather get my hands on a copy of the Shakespeare Recording Society version from the 1960's, starring Sir John Gielgud as Richard II with Michael Hordern, Leo McKern and Keith Michell; this is available on audio cassette in the UK and on CD nowhere, and that's a scandal HarperCollins should address.

7 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 15 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed