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on 20 February 2012
Not had time to watch the DVD all the way through yet (wait, read on!) but the segments I have watched are superb! Doing a Shakespeare module in my third year of my degree course we have been asked to view extracts from performances (hence why I haven't viewed this in its entirety yet!)

The blinding of Gloucester is always a powerful and emotive scene in any production, but this version is somewhat different from others as it is reminiscent of many 60's/70's horror movies with its visceral sound effects and camera movement. In fact, as the camera pans away during the scene one is reminded of Quentin Tarantion's infamous ear scene in "Reservoir Dogs"!

Okay, some scenes seem a bit ott... too much focus on violence and a relish in suffering... but for sheer emotive force, this is epic! Cordelia's death... wow... horrific and beautiful! That scene alone is worth the price of the DVD!

Would I watch it if I wasn't doing a degree? Maybe not. This is probably best for students now as other productions are more watchable (Trevor Nunn) but for a student this is great DVD as the scenes are powerful and give us poor students something to write about! It is good and worth a look, some clips on Youtube available, but picture quality is better via DVD.
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on 1 November 2012
No complaints about the casting, although Goneril is perhaps a bit too old. The sets are wonderful and there's some great photography early on but as Lear's madness takes over the production gets a bit too creative for my taste. There are a couple of scenes early on that give a foretaste of this, such as the first scene with The Fool, where the camera pans back and forth between The Fool and Lear. In the 'mad' scenes we get out of focus, weird framing and so on but you don't really need this to drive home the point of Lear's madness. Camera work should be support rather than distract and for this reason I can only give three stars.
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on 30 May 2013
Each director wants to bring something new to his/her interpretation of Shakespeare and we all benefit from being challenged into seeing one of Shakespeare's plays in a new way. That being said, Peter Brook's King Lear (one would have difficulty describing it as William Shakespeare's King Lear) is more of an exercise in stripping down a production to it's colorless unemotional core than it is an exploration of Lear's tragic fall and the emergence of his nascent humanity. The production is stripped of its soul: it is silent (there is neither a musical soundtrack nor background sounds), colorless (exceptionally stark interiors and exteriors), and emotionless both in the actor's facial expressions and text delivery. The "slash and burn" editing of the play removes so much that the themes of honor, loyalty and redemption are almost lost.
It is a crime to cast Paul Scofield and have him do Lear without the full use of his magnificent voice and the vulnerability that his work displayed as he aged. He could have been an unparalleled Lear had he not been constrained by Peter Brook's "vision" for the play.
I see every Shakespeare production I can so I am not sorry that I saw this rendition, but in my opinion it is better to see it as an intellectual exercise than as an interpretation that reveals anything new about this wonderful play.
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on 10 February 2014
This is one of the best Shakespeare adaptations for film because the director, Peter Brook, structures the play to move with the rhythm of cinema. That, plus a fantastic cast headed by the superb Paul Scofield, and bleak winter photography in a medieval wasteland, makes this a must for Shakepspeare aficianados.
OK, so why the three stars? I have no problem with the lack of bonus features or a booklet. But the film is shown om this disc in the 1.33.1 ratio instead of the 1.66.1 ratio of the original cinematic adaptation. This is very tacky for a recent DVD release. Brook's framing favors the 1.66.1 and so with this disc you get faces cut off at the sides. The overall picture quality is clear, but the lack of the full frame diminshes the presentation. Let Masters of Cinema or BFI or Criterion have a go at a proper presentation. Thanks.
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on 22 April 2008
This is Lear in a completely different light from any other version, I think that much can be guaranteed. Whether or not you like it probably depends on how orthodox you are in terms of Shakespeare, but as for me, I find I prefer this version to, say, the much praised Michael Hordern one. This is lean, mean Lear, stark and brooding and focusing very much more on the psychology than on outwardly events. I find that I think of it as the essence of the play. It's intense, even intrusive in its psychological examination of the characters, and the title role is made even more demanding because of it. Only an actor of Scofield's calibre could pull it off, and he does so in what must be the greatest performance of his film career.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 21 February 2013
I think the Bard himself would be delighted in this production. The acting and diction are second to none. Superbly filmed with such care, the whole experience is extraordinary. I've used the film with even less engaged students and they have enjoyed and understood the play. A triumph.
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on 15 November 2017
Little bit dated to watch
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on 9 December 2015
Classic production. Scofield a granite Lear, and Peter Brook's powerful icy production.
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on 7 October 2013
Very miserable, cold and dreary, yep this is King Lear and except for poor sound quality is very good and worth watching.
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on 14 March 2014
Beware its b&w and everyone looks the same running round ancient grey moorland and shacks for palaces all with the same beards and fur rags. But focus on the tale if you can see the difference in who's who , and the acting will shine through in colour!
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