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King Lear (1983)

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

Director:

Michael Elliott

Writer:

William Shakespeare (play)
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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Colin Blakely ... Kent
Leo McKern ... Gloucester
Robert Lindsay ... Edmund
Laurence Olivier ... King Lear
Dorothy Tutin ... Goneril
Anna Calder-Marshall ... Cordelia
Diana Rigg ... Regan
Robert Lang ... Albany
Jeremy Kemp ... Cornwall
Brian Cox ... Burgundy
Edward Petherbridge ... France
David Threlfall ... Edgar
Geoffrey Bateman Geoffrey Bateman ... Oswald
John Cording ... Lear's Knight
John Hurt ... The Fool
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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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 January 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Kung Lear See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Granada Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

4:3
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Esmond Knight (Old Man) previously appeared in all three Shakespearean films directed by Laurence Olivier: Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1955). See more »

Quotes

Gloucester: As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport.
See more »

Connections

Version of King Lear (1909) See more »

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User Reviews

 
An All Star Cast Takes on Shakespeare's Greatest Tragedy
22 February 2006 | by Dan1863SicklesSee all my reviews

An all-star cast takes on Shakespeare's greatest tragedy. Laurence Olivier is Lear -- once a mighty king, now a weak, jealous old man. Tired and in need of rest, he divides his kingdom among his three daughters. Cordelia, the youngest, is good and kind, while Regan and Goneril are wicked schemers who soon turn against the king and try to murder him! Lear has loyal friends, like Kent the noble, and his jester, the Fool. Colin Blakely makes Kent into the perfect, rugged sidekick, as brave and reliable as Sam in LORD OF THE RINGS. And John Hurt makes the haunting, half-crazed fool as helpless and pitiable as Gollum, without all the creepy sliminess.

But the real stars of the play are actually the villains. Diana Rigg is delicious as Regan, the younger of the two "wicked sisters." Even when she is shiveringly evil, (joking about Gloucester's pain as she pokes out his eyes!) she remains a stunningly desirable woman. And the twisted affair between Regan and the studly but wicked Edmund is much more erotic and involving than in most productions. Robert Lindsay captures the gigolo side of Edmund perfectly, always teasing and tempting and making poor love-struck Regan literally pucker up to kiss the empty air. Diana Rigg really plays all sides of the character -- watching her pout and sulk in her tent would be sweetly endearing if she weren't so truly and completely cruel. As a result the viewer is spellbound, unable to resist the evil but horrified by the inevitable tragedy.

With an all-star cast, original scenery and a haunting musical score, this bold production is Shakespeare at the summit!


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