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 »
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 »
Ian McKellen gives a tour-de-force performance as Shakespeare's tragic titular monarch in this special television adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company production of one of the playwright's most enduring and haunting works.
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 »
An aging monarch resolves to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, with consequences he little expects. His reason shattered in the storm of violent emotion that ensues, with his ... See full summary »
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, returns home to find his father murdered by Claudius, Hamlet's uncle. Claudius usurps the throne of Denmark, and marries Hamlet's recently widowed mother. Hamlet is tormented, haunted, and increasingly unstable.
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
King Lear is a very complex and powerful tragedy, and therefore adapting it is difficult. Peter Brook's 1971 film, shot in black and white, actually does a great job and summons up most of the titanic power of its source material. This has been a divisive film, and I can partially see why. With its drained, melancholy black and white cinematography, gloomy line delivery, subtle camera movements and dark, nightmare-like atmosphere, this does not hold back at all in its bleakness, and is not for the faint of heart. This is one highly nihilistic movie, so do not watch this for a good time. Still, King Lear is one of the most depressing plays ever written so perhaps that's appropriate. Despite the liberties it takes with the play (It cuts out much of the dialogue and its unrelenting misery occasionally causes the play's more optimistic, tender moments to lose some of their impact), this is a very good film which urgently needs more attention. Peter Brook's direction is haunting and brutally bleak, yet best of all very subtle and intelligently understated. Paul Scofield is brilliant as Lear, and gives a wonderful and pleasingly quiet performance as the tragic protagonist. Another highlight is the Fool, who is drained of all his normal humour. A miserable film for sure, but a very compelling one with a terrific finale. This is a very worthy adaptation overall and shows just how much of a gut-punch King Lear is.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?