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King Lear (1971)

The Shakespeare tragedy that gave us the expression "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child." King Lear has not one but two ungrateful children, and it's ... See full summary »

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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

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Irene Worth ...
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Susan Engel ...
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Tom Fleming ...
Anne-Lise Gabold ...
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Robert Langdon Lloyd ...
Edgar (as Robert Lloyd)
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Alan Webb ...
Søren Elung Jensen ...
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Storyline

The Shakespeare tragedy that gave us the expression "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child." King Lear has not one but two ungrateful children, and it's especially galling because he turned over his entire kingdom to them. Paul Scofield is an ancient, imposing shell of a Lear tormented by his too-long life as well as by daughters he calls "unnatural hags." At one point, the king looks his eldest daughter, Goneril (Ireme Worth), straight in the eye and declares, "Thou art a boil, a plague-sore, of embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood." These are the troubles not even the best-trained family counselor could ever hope to resolve. Written by alfiehitchie

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Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

4 February 1971 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Kong Lear  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Brook based this production on ideas expressed by Polish theater critic Jan Kott in the book "Shakespeare, Our Contemporary". See more »

Crazy Credits

Not only is there no music in the film, but there are no "ambient sounds" at all during the opening credits, giving the impression that they were filmed using no soundtrack whatsoever. See more »

Connections

Version of El rey Lear (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

The definition of bleakness
4 April 2004 | by (Lancashire, England) – See all my reviews

"King Lear" is not one of my favourite Shakespeare plays (sacrilege indeed!) but I must say I find this film version immensely impressive and the best film version of Shakespeare I have seen.

The key to this is the direction of Peter Brook. Unquestionably this is an "arty" avant-garde production that has echoes of Bergman and Beckett as other reviewers have noted. For me this works extremely well. The choice of a barren Danish landscape in winter, the use of black and white, and unusual decision to eschew music all contribute to a very dark and bleak atmosphere. The director keeps viewers on their toes and presents a despairing tragedy.

There is nothing theatrical about this - quite rightly as this is a film version. The performances are restrained and measured. The acting is very strong - Patrick Magee particularly stands out as a very menacing Cornwall while Susan Engel and Irene Worth are fine as the manipulative elder sisters.

My only real reservation is that the climax of the film is rather rushed, with the numerous deaths needing a little more reflection. The suicide of Goneril is though extremely powerful. Lear's death is always poignant but the direction of it doesn't work completely.

Opinions are very mixed on this film but I certainly think it deserves attention. It would especially appeal to followers of Bergman and anyone who is struck by a dark tale.


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