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King Lear 

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 »

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(adaptation), (play)
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1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Edgar
Finbar Lynch ...
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David Lyon ...
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Martin Chamberlain ...
Adrian Irvine ...
France
Nicholas R. Bailey ...
Burgundy
William Osborne ...
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Storyline

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 <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Genres:

Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

11 October 1998 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Connections

Version of Le roi Lear (1981) See more »

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User Reviews

Depoliticizing Shakespeare--Again
18 June 1999 | by (Oxford, Ohio, USA) – See all my reviews

In the 138-minute version I saw and heard, this is a fine production of the tragedies of the Lear family and the Gloucester family but less good on theology and politics.

Two of the major productions of _Hamlet_ in the 20th century, the 1948 version by Laurence Olivier and the 1990 version by Franco Zeffirelli, follow Ernest Jones and make _Hamlet_ a mostly nonpolitical, Oedipal family drama. The 1997 _Lear_ follows the simpler expedient for depoliticizing a play of simply cutting or muting lines.

So in this (shortened?) production we don't have to take too seriously the possibility that the gods are dead or apathetic or politically irrelevant, or even the retained suggestion that "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; / They kill us for their sport" (4.1.36-37). Nor are we explicitly invited to think subversive thoughts about wisdom and folly, Nature as Divine Order vs. Nature as Machiavellian (or Hobbesian) competition--or about authority or justice in a secularized world.

Still, the emotional appeal of the play remains, and Ian Holm's Lear runs a brilliant course from despotic king and father to a gentle human being. Indeed, all the acting is quite good; and the set design, costuming, and camera-work are a good deal more interesting than we're used to on television.

So this is a very good _Lear_, but just a bit more of Shakespeare's play, at little extra running time, could have produced a very great _King Lear_. I hope that more subversive version was what people in the UK got to see and will make it to America when we're ready for theologically and politically unbowdlerized Shakespeare.


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