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Customer Review

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars King Lear, my favourite., 3 Jan. 2005
This review is from: King Lear - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1982] [DVD] (DVD)
To me, this is the most amazing, richly textured, beautiful story ever written. The spectrum of characters, and their very intricate complexities, provide a very firm base for the - sorry, but here's that word again - beautiful tragedy. The story is so full so possibility, evil and good.
Being 18, I have grown up with movies which feed you the story: movies where you don't really have to think too hard. This BBC adaptation of King Lear is not one of those movies. You have to work at it, you've got to listen, you've got to think pretty hard the whole way through. I watched the whole film in three separate instalments, which is probably the best way to do it unless you've got lots of stamina.
It's still an absolutely fantastic film, and very true to the text. In many ways, it is exactly as I imagine it, except for the eerie bland setting.
Michael Hordern is a superb Lear. It's an immensely difficult role, one of the most complex in all of Shakespeare - finding a balance between strength and weakness is seemingly impossible, but Hodern pulls it off with surprising talent, given his age.
However, I think that Gillian Barge and Penelope Wilton steal the show as Goneril and Regan. The pair of them portray the vicious sisters so convincingly that their performances alone make this film well worth seeing. Their cruelty and greed is conveyed which a calibre of acting that has sadly been lost in this generation of film. Furthermore, you can actually feel bonds between these two sisters, which makes the whole film a lot more real.
A number of scenes deserve special mention. Gloucester's blinding is bloody spectacular. His tortured screams were so realistic that I wanted to murder Wilton in revenge, who played Regan here with pure malice.
The final scene was also fabulous, even achieving suspense and terror - the brothers' fatal duel, the wicked sisters' inevitable deaths, and - most of all - Lear's pitiful, heart-wrenching entrance holding Cordelia dead in his arms. This is made all the more horrific by the raw rope marks around Cordelia's neck.
I could go on forever about this movie but I won't, just take my word for it. But don't watch it if you're after an easy viewing experience. Be prepared to work at this film. But it's fantastic so well worth it, I think.
Enjoy!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Oct 2009 00:38:20 BDT
lexo1941 says:
You're right, it's a very fine version. My only quibble is with the casting of Frank Middlemass as the Fool - Middlemass was a great actor, but I think the Fool has to be younger than Lear.

Penelope Wilton is mostly known for being in sitcoms (including one of the greatest, because saddest, sitcoms ever made: Ever Decreasing Circles) so this is a good reminder that she is a very good classical actress too.
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