11 November 2013

King Lear (1971)

King Lear 1971
  • Director: Peter Brook
  • Based on: Shakespeare
  • Cast: Paul Scofield, Irene Worth, Susan Engel, Cyril Cusack, Tom Fleming, Anne-Lise Gabold, Ian Hogg, Robert Lloyd, Jack MacGowan, Patrick Magee
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Paul Scofield  Hamlet, Henry V, A Man for All Seasons
    • Irene Worth  Coriolanus
    • Cyril Cusack  – Harold and Maude, My Left Foot, As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors, King Lear, The Taming of a Shrew, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Fahrenheit 451
    • Ian Hogg  – Macbeth (BBC), Macbeth (Polanski)
    • Jack MacGowan – The Exorcist, How I Won the War, Doctor Zhivago, Tom Jones, Darby O’Gill and the Little People
    • Patrick Magee - A Clockwork Orange, King Lear (1974 Davenall)
  • Why? Shakespeare
  • Seen: November 10, 2013

      Either hypnotic or just deadly slow, depending on your mood, this is certainly the starkest of the Lear films I’ve seen. It was filmed in Denmark in beautiful black and white, at times by very effective hand held cameras.  Sometimes the characters present their lines in a convincingly normal tone of voice; at times they are theatrical, which works. Or not.
       The costumes are an odd mix of Soviet revolutionaries and peasants, and medieval Sami-Siberian. Like in Ran there is a lot of galloping across fields, only this time in the winter, not the summer.
       An awful lot is cut from the play and the silent movie style text cards that show up now and then don’t help much.
       As with the Olivier version I started out liking this one quite a lot but lost interest during the storm. How can such a dramatic storm be so consistently boring?
       I wish someone would make a really good version of Lear.

2 ½  * of 5


1 comment:

  1. We just watched this film again, November 2017. I agree with myself. Visually 5 * at least but again, I dozed off during the storm scene which is so totally not the reaction one would expect from one of Shakespeare's strongest most dramatic scenes. I'm still waiting for the brilliant performance that the play deserves.