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King Lear (1970)

GP | | Drama | July 1970 (UK)
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 »


Peter Brook


Peter Brook, William Shakespeare (play)
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Paul Scofield ... King Lear
Irene Worth ... Goneril
Cyril Cusack ... Albany
Susan Engel ... Regan
Tom Fleming Tom Fleming ... Kent
Anne-Lise Gabold Anne-Lise Gabold ... Cordelia
Ian Hogg ... Edmund
Robert Langdon Lloyd Robert Langdon Lloyd ... Edgar (as Robert Lloyd)
Jack MacGowran ... Fool
Patrick Magee ... Cornwall
Barry Stanton ... Oswald
Alan Webb ... Gloucester
Søren Elung Jensen Søren Elung Jensen ... Duke of Burgundy


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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Did You Know?


Irene Worth plays Paul Scofield's daughter despite being 6 years older. See more »


[first lines]
King Lear: Know that we have divided In three our kingdom: and 'tis our fast intent To shake all cares and business from our age; Conferring them on younger strengths, while we Unburthen'd crawl toward death.
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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 »


Version of Great Performances: King Lear (2008) See more »

User Reviews

Are you Warhol in disguise?
31 August 1999 | by DC1977See all my reviews

After seeing Paul Scofield's amazing Oscar-winning performance in 'A Man For All Seasons', I was determined that one day I would see the film version of his interpretation of arguably the most challenging stage role of all, that of Shakespeare's King Lear.

I was amazed at what I saw in the first half hour. This would have to be the most poorly, even carelessly, directed and edited film I have ever seen.

Cuts would be made at bizarre times when the viewer would feel there was more to come from that scene. The camera often seemed unsure of where the actors were and the photography, clearly downbeat in a failed attempt to get the right mood, was frankly pathetic.

This can not be down to incompetent direction as Peter Brook is a highly-respected stage director who, although he hasn't set the movie world alight, definitely has the talent to produce polished work.

It is obvious that the film is deliberately amateurish but for what reason?

This reminded me a great deal of an Andy Warhol film called 'My Hustler' where at one point the camera pans across a beach to focus on a young hustler but can't find him!! The camera kept searching until the subject was in view.

However, Warhol was well-known even praised for his amateurish style.

Although the technical quality of Lear improved later, the damage had already been done. When viewers are subjected to film-making as technically poor as this, it is very difficult to maintain concentration. Although there was nothing wrong with the acting (Scofield is excellent) the film itself is boring purely because of the way it is directed.

As a result, it is difficult to sit through this film and concentrate hard enough to successfully follow it's story. I have never read the play and I know little more about the story after seeing this film version.

However, I'm pleased that I've seen it simply because Paul Scofield is without doubt one of the greatest actors of all time. Unfortunately for film fans, he has appeared in very few movies and so any permanent record of his remarkable talent is well worth seeing regardless of the quality of the final product.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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UK | Denmark



Release Date:

July 1970 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

King Lear See more »

Filming Locations:

Råbjerg Mile, Jylland, Denmark See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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