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King Lear (1971)
"Korol Lir" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  6 August 1975 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 777 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 10 critic

King Lear, old and tired, divides his kingdom among his daughters, giving great importance to their protestations of love for him. When Cordelia, youngest and most honest, refuses to idly ... See full summary »


, (Russian translation, 1949), 1 more credit »
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Title: King Lear (1971)

King Lear (1971) on IMDb 8.3/10

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Credited cast:
Jüri Järvet ...
King Lear (as Yuri Yarvet)
Elza Radzina ...
Goneril (as E. Radzina)
Galina Volchek ...
Regan (as G. Volchek)
Valentina Shendrikova ...
Cordelia (as V. Shendrikova)
Oleg Dal ...
Fool (as O. Dal)
Karlis Sebris ...
Gloster (as K. Sebris)
Leonhard Merzin ...
Edgar (as L. Merzin)
Regimantas Adomaitis ...
Edmund (as R. Adomaytis)
Vladimir Yemelyanov ...
Kent (as V. Yemelyanov)
Aleksandr Vokach ...
Cornwall (as A. Vokach)
Donatas Banionis ...
Albany (as D. Banionis)
Aleksey Petrenko ...
Oswald (as A. Petrenko)
Juozas Budraitis ...
King of France (as I. Budraytis)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Roman Gromadsky ...
(as R. Gromadsky)
Nikolai Kuzmin ...
(as N. Kuzmin)


King Lear, old and tired, divides his kingdom among his daughters, giving great importance to their protestations of love for him. When Cordelia, youngest and most honest, refuses to idly flatter the old man in return for favor, he banishes her and turns for support to his remaining daughters. But Goneril and Regan have no love for him and instead plot to take all his power from him. In a parallel, Lear's loyal courtier Gloucester favors his illegitimate son Edmund after being told lies about his faithful son Edgar. Madness and tragedy befall both ill-starred fathers. Written by Jim Beaver <>

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Release Date:

6 August 1975 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

King Lear  »

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Grigori Kozintsev made this version of the play at the same time that Peter Brook was filming King Lear (1971), and the two directors corresponded with each other throughout shooting. See more »


Version of Le roi Lear (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

One of the Finest Films Ever Made
26 July 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Shakespeare's plays are difficult to realize on stage or on film. Reading through his plays, one gets the impression that they are greater than they can ever be performed. But there are those few productions that hit the mark and do his works justice. So it is with Korol Lir (King Lear), Grigori Kozintsev's final film.

In 1964, Kozintsev's Hamlet was released and earned high praise both in Russia and the West. As a consequence, Kozintsev was invited to and attended many western film festivals including Cannes. Kozintsev cherished these trips to the west as he was able to see many films that were not shown in the Soviet Union. He was particularly eager to see the films of Kurosawa, Ford, Capra and Fellini. But it was the films of Orson Welles, Citizen Kane in particular, that made the deepest impression on him. In fact it was Citizen Kane that inspired Kozintsev to film King Lear in black-and-white rather than in color.

There are so many wonderful touches in this film starting with Yuri Yarvets' harrowing portrayal of the mad Lear. His Lear always leaves me feeling crushed at the end of the film. Superb as well is the eerie, haunting performance of Galina Volchek as Regan and the outstanding cinematography of Jonas Gritsius. Of course there is also the translation used which is itself a masterpiece, by Boris Pasternak no less (the fool's songs were performed with translations by Samuil Marshak however). Dmitri Shostakovich's score is exactly what you would expect: genius. Here is no simple sonic wallpaper to play along as images move about the screen. Neither does this dark score overwhelm the on-screen action but rather acts as a wordless narrator, commenting on the drama as it unfolds. At the heart of all this is Kozintsev's bleak and powerful vision of King Lear. There are no gimmicks here, no attempts to "update", no trace of the portentousness and pomposity that mars many films based on Shakespeare. Here, the tragedy is revealed with a brutal and simple honesty. It is not only Lear and those around him who suffer but his whole nation suffers and decays alongside him. Seeing this film from first to final scene is a draining emotional experience.

You probably won't find the DVD of this great film at your local video store but it is available from the Russian Cinema Council's (RUSCICO) website for about $35. Their transfer of this film is decent but it does leave a bit to be desired. One can only hope and pray that Criterion will release it one day (don't hold your breath). Still, any fan of great cinema should make the effort to acquaint themselves with this film, one that I personally consider to be one of the greatest films ever made.

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