Action / Drama / History
Action / Drama / History
An aging King invites disaster, when he abdicates to his corrupt, toadying daughters, and rejects his loving and honest one.
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September 29, 2018 at 03:23 AM
A Splendid Production
Lear is one of those roles (the other is Prospero) that looms in the destiny of notable Shakespearian actors. Olivier tackled it. Gielgud (whose advice to a younger Ian McKellan, we are told, was "get a small Cordelia"), Scofield, Stewart, when an actor with in the classical repertory reaches a certain age, the challenge he faces is whether or not do Lear.
Hopkins takes this on with all his considerable skill and force, and for my taste delivers beautifully. Ably supported by a very good cast drawn from the almost bottomless pool of English talent, he portrays the spiteful, short-sighted old king who banishes Cordelia and Kent at the beginning of the piece, the king who finds his power deserting him in the face of opposition from Goneril and Regan in the next arc of the plot, the bereft old man descending into the madness he so fears, and the shattered man at the end, with range and power.
Lear is not a one-man show, but without a tremendously strong Lear you don't have a play (same goes for so many of Shakespeare's best pieces - Hamlet, Macbeth. Richard III). Hopkins hits the essential peak at the last scene, with those two famous lines of one word repeated. "Howl. Howl. Howl." and. utterly broken at last: "Never. Never. Never." These are language as music, almost in the abstracl, like sacred chant in their power, and he delivers them spot on.
I was very pleased with this film and these performances.
Dividing the spoils
My word not many laughs in King Lear. My son who fancied a bit of Shakespeare got put off by the eye gouging scene of Gloucester. He went off to watch a James Bond movie, Spectre I think!
Richard Eyre who worked with Anthony Hopkins in the film version of The Dresser, reunited with him again as Eyre adapts and directs the film version of King Lear.
The setting is modern day Britain as a military dictatorship.
The ageing Lear has gathered his family to divide up his kingdom in what proves to be unwise. One part to his daughter Goneril (Emma Thompson), the other to Regan (Emily Watson) and the remainder would had gone to Cordelia (Florence Pugh) until she fails to show her father enough devotion and flattery. She is disinherited and banished.
The declaration of love and devotion from Goneril and Regan are false. The autocrat is usurped from his power by two of his offspring with Cordelia who was the only daughter true to him. Lear descends into madness.
Eyre has wisely cut the text down so the running length is less than two hours but I still found the play dense and also at times choppy. I liked some of the updates. Edgar and Edmund's battle is a mixed martial arts contest. Lear walks around the shopping precinct, homeless and pathetically pushing a shopping trolley with rubbish.
Hopkins, maybe due to his Celtic temperament delivers a shouty performance. A man in rage and also pathetic as he is played like a puppet on a string by Goneril and Regan.
This Lear is wonderfully filmed, the picture gets desaturated as the story gets bleaker by the end.
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A modern take on a Shakespeare tragedy
Lear, an elderly king, has decided to divide his kingdom between his three daughters but first he asks each how much they love him to decide who should get the largest share. The elder two, Goneril and Regan, profess their love in false, obsequious tones but Cordelia, the youngest and most beloved, says she has no words to say how much she loves him... and is immediately disowned. The Earl of Kent speaks up for her but he too is banished. Tensions soon rise as various parties try to position themselves for power and the king's grip on reality slips further; tragedy is inevitable.
One wouldn't really say this BBC production was enjoyably... 'King Lear' is one of Shakespeare's more tragic plays; it is however a gripping production. Anthony Hopkins does a fine job as Lear, really capturing the anger and confusion of the character as he slips into senility. Emma Thompson, Emily Watson and Florence Pugh impress as Goneril, Regan and Cordelia although we see far more of the former two and they get more to work with. The rest of the cast is solid and includes plenty of familiar faces. There are some disturbing moments... the sight of a character having his eyes gouged out certainly had me wincing. Director Richard Eyre did a fine job capturing the bleakness of the story; the colour draining from the picture as the story progresses to such an extent that the final scenes was almost black and white. Overall I'd certainly recommend this to fans of Shakespeare on film.