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 »
Aging King Lear decides to surrender his throne to his three daughters and solicits comments from them about their devotion and love to him. Goneril and Regan, the elder married daughters, flatter their father with profusely exaggerated declarations of filial devotion, but Goneril, his unmarried youngest, refuses to try to outdo her sisters in insincerity and declares her loyalty to her father in more subdued terms. The egocentric king disinherits her it a fit of pique and banishes her, as well as Kent, one of his most loyal ministers, who had the temerity to criticize the king's actions. The aging Lear is not happy in retirement as first one and then both of his daughters turn their backs on their now powerless father. Cordelia, now married to the King of France, remains loyal to her father despite his treatment of her and invades England with the French army in hopes of restoring her father to the throne. In the meantime, the Duke of Gloucester's illegitimate son Edmund plots to ... Written by
Gabe Taverney (email@example.com)
At the time of filming there was a strike at the BBC, so the producers at Thames found that some actors were available who would not otherwise have been affordable with Thames' budget restrictions. Ironically, this production was delayed because the stagehands at Thames also went on strike during production. See more »
Sandwiched between versions done by Paul Scofield and Laurence Olivier is this Thames Television version of King Lear. In the title role Patrick Magee definitely holds his own against the two acting knights though my favorite still remains the one Olivier did.
Thames made the decision that this would be a mini-series given to the British television audience in six episodes. If that was the case then I'm at a loss why the part of Lear's fool is nearly cut out of the play. The Fool, especially when played by John Hurt in the Olivier production has some of the best lines Shakespeare ever wrote. So it might have been a seven or eight part mini-series.
Magee does well as the old King, getting a little stupid in his dotage and the victim of base flattery by his two oldest daughters. When third daughter doesn't kiss up to him enough he cuts her out of her share of the kingdom and lives long enough to regret that.
Besides Magee the one to watch in this production is Patrick Mower as Edmund of Gloucester. Illegitimate of birth and feeling the pangs of it, he schemes as intricately as Richard III to get to the top. Unlike Richard III he's not bad looking and uses that to full advantage with all of Lear's daughters to some degree.
A good production, but I'll stick with Olivier and Scofield.
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