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King Lear (1983)

An aging King invites disaster when he abdicates to his corrupt, toadying daughters and rejects his one loving, but honest one.

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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

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Edward Petherbridge ...
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Storyline

Lear is an aging King who wants to retire by abdicating to his three daughters. However, in an act of petty ego stroking, he asks them who among them loves him most. While two daughters eagerly toady to him, his one loving daughter, Cordelia, refuses play along with this foolish charade. In a rage, Lear exiles her along with his one loyal aide who dares to stick up for her. This foolish move works to Lear's sorrow as his two remaining daughters cruelly and gradually strip him of his status and possessions until he is rendered an insane hermit attended only by his fool. All the while, the illegitimate son of another lord is plotting his own ambitions while contributing to this tragic tale of ego and familial cruelty. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@home.com>

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26 January 1984 (USA)  »

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Kung Lear  »

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4:3
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The last specifically made-for-television production of a Shakespeare play (to date) to have its American TV premiere on commercial network television, an occurrence that was much more common in the 1950's, '60's, and '70s. See more »

Quotes

King Lear: How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!
See more »

Connections

Version of König Lear (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Throw the textbook away
22 August 2007 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

King Lear is a rough-hewn, majestic work of genius which addresses issues of life and family that we can all identify with, 400 years later. It is a difficult play to get right, on screen or on the stage because it demands the greatest acting from the best available actors.

And this gripping performance manages to do it. The sets are cheap, the video quality is poor and murky but the powerful work of a terrific Laurence Olivier and a faultless cast of Britain's finest Shakespearean actors shines through.

One poor performance can ruin a production like this, but every single actor rises to the occasion, and each character is well-realised and credible. There is not a single weak performance, even from those with the smallest roles.

The poetry flows, the imagery is beautiful and moving and the themes are brought into sharp relief. From the first scene, you will not need a text of the play to understand what is going on.

With Olivier gone and Branagh still several decades from being old enough to take on the role, we can expect this to be the definitive version for years to come.


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