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King Lear (1983)

Aging King Lear (Sir Laurence Olivier) 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 ... Oswald
John Cording ... Lear's Knight
John Hurt ... The Fool
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Storyline

Lear (Sir Laurence Olivier) 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 amongst them loves him most. While two daughters eagerly toady to him, his one loving daughter, Cordelia (Anna Calder-Marshall), 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:

El Rey 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

This was Sir Laurence Olivier's final Shakespearean role before his death on July 11, 1989 at the age of eighty-two. See more »

Quotes

Edmund: Now gods, stand up for bastards.
See more »

Connections

Version of Gran teatro: El Rey Lear (1964) See more »

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User Reviews

Olivier is far and away the best Lear I've seen
17 November 1999 | by Shakespeare BondSee all my reviews

I've never been that impressed with Olivier's acting. His Hamlet seemed quite boring. That changed after I saw this and his "Merchant of Venice." As Olivier got older, he got better. No more grandstanding, no more showy heroes. Having seen other Lears waste the role with constant shouting or with boringly stone-faced acting, I was impressed with the range of emotion Olivier revealed here. This Lear was the only one I could pity. He seems more hurt than angry by Cordelia's "Nothing." He shifts instantly between self-pity, blind rage, and knowledge, just as Lear does in the text.

The music was awful. Terribly melodramatic. Almost ruined the film.

Diana Rigg is absolutely chilling as Reagan and the Fool is touchingly dependent on Lear. Far less caustic than I imagined him.

This isn't the "definitive" Lear. There isn't one. But this comes close.


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