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 ...
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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 »
Everything returns to normal after Chernobyl. That is, everything but art. Most of the great works are lost, and it is up to people like William Shakespear Junior the Fifth to restore the ... See full summary »
Sir Ian McKellen gives a tour-de-force performance as Shakespeare's tragic monarch, in this special television adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company production of one of the playwright's most enduring and haunting works.
King Lear is an in-depth study of love, power and death. Through this film Shakespeare is saying, "Don't blame the gods or the heaven's for the horrors committed on earth. No. Blame hellish inhumanity on those who inhabit the earth."
Joey Evans is charming, handsome, funny, talented, and a first class, A-number-one heel. When Joey meets the former chorus girl ("She used to be 'Vera...with the Vanishing Veils'") and now ... See full summary »
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
Brook based this production on ideas expressed by Polish theater critic Jan Kott in the book "Shakespeare, Our Contemporary". See more »
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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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 »
A fine film, and just as controversial as it ought to be
I have read altogether too many reviews of this film which bash it all to hell because the reviewer doesn't agree with Brook's reading of KING LEAR. To all such folk I would like to say: We Shakespeare fans should positively glory in the fact that every reader (and a fortiori every director) has his or her own interpretation of all the plays. Given Brook's interpretation, the film is wonderful.
This version of Shakespeare's greatest tragedy is not only consistent with itself, which most aren't, it is acted to a hilt. The characters are brilliantly portrayed. The interactions between them appear as the absolute and utter epitome of conflict and love, of the heroic and villainous way people act when confronted with a situation that is calculated to freak a human being out.
My favorite characterization is that of the Fool, who utterly steals the show and who becomes almost a Greek chorus. The way he interacts with Lear suggests a metaphysical mood of "We know exactly what's going on here, don't we?" The understanding between these two is too deep to be expressed in normal language; in the conversation around "The reason why the seven stars are only seven" (which would have struck any of the other characters, except maybe Kent, as a demented sequence of non sequiturs) suggests that Lear knows, at least at that moment, how the story will turn out, and that his attitude is one of "what is't to leave betimes? Let be." The Fool is here a prophet of absurdity, a Dark Age cross between a Marx Brother and Lenny Bruce.
And I challenge anyone to show me any actors who could do Kent and Gloucester better than those who portrayed them in this film. To say nothing of the wonderful job Scofield does with the title role.
Brook's Lear is almost sociopathically unfeeling until disaster begins to overtake him. To be sure, this view of Lear is not mine. But again, Shakespeare's characters are topics inexhaustible, and there is no such thing as a Lear to end all Lears. Whether one agrees with Brook or not, he carries his idiosyncratic reading off brilliantly---just as brilliantly as Laurence Olivier and Ian Holm in their utterly un-Brookish TV versions. I say: Let it ride! Let's have as many defensible and indefensible Lears as possible, and let's have them as utterly contradictory of each other as the 1945 and 1991 film versions of Henry the Fifth are.
By the way, I am a recent convert to this position. Before I saw the light, I was (for example) utterly ticked off at Kenneth Branagh's film of HAMLET, because it portrayed the Prince as having had sex with Ophelia way back when, and because its Fortinbras was an uncultured creep who dissed Hamlet by tearing down his father's monument. Wasn't it obvious that the text utterly contradicts both notions? Yep! But Branagh would have every right to say to me, "The hell with you, go make your own film." And so would Brook to his critics.
See it, friend. I look forward to our friendly argument.
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