British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

King Lear

Synopsis
The relentlessly cold and unemotional interpretation was heavily influenced by the essay, ‘King Lear or Endgame’, in which the Polish poet/critic/academic Jan Kott argued that Lear should be interpreted in terms of Samuel Beckett’s New Theatre as a play devoid of any consolation, morality or universal justice. Filmed in the winter in Denmark and Jutland, the harsh and bitter landscape informs the violent, unredemptive and existentialist reading.
When Book’s production of Lear opened at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1962, it was acclaimed for its Beckettian sense of dispair; the version on screen in even bleaker (The Guardian, 2019).
Language
English
Country
Denmark; Great Britain
Medium
Film
Technical information
Black-and-white / Sound
Year of release
1971
Duration
137 mins; 12,355 feet

Credits

Director
Peter Brook
Producer
Michael Birkett
Cinematographer
Henning Kristiansen
Writer
William Shakespeare
Production Design
Georges Wakhevitch
Costume
Adele Angard
Cast
Paul ScofieldLear
Anne-Lise GaboldCordelia
Alan WebbEarl of Gloucester
Jack MacGowranFool
Robert LloydEdgar, later disguised as Tom o’Bedlam
Barry StantonOswald
Cyril CusackDuke of Albany
Ian HoggEdmund
Irene WorthGoneril
Patrick MageeDuke of Cornwall
Susan EngelRegan
Søren Elung JensenDuke of Burgundy
Tom FlemingEarl of Kent

Additional Details

Production type
Fiction Films
Historical period
Ancient Britain
Plays
King Lear
Subjects
Drama
Keywords
Shakespeare, William (1564-1616)

Notes

Notes
Budget $1.1m
General
Peter Brook had directed the play for the Royal Shakespeare Company with Scofield in the leading role. Many of the roles were re-cast for the film, the much-cut text was re-edited and the costumes and settings re-designed. Michael Anderegg in his book Cinematic Shakespeare notes that Scofield gave a much different interpretation of the role for cinema and had given yet another reading in the Shakespeare Recording Society sound recording in 1965.
Reviews
`King Lear: Peter Brook and Grigori Kozintsev’ in Jorgens, Jack J. Shakespeare on Film (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1991) pp. 235-51

Production Company

Name

Athene/Laterna Films

Name

Filmways

Distributor (Hire)

Name

Filmbank Distributors Ltd

Email
info@filmbank.co.uk
Web
http://www.filmbank.co.uk External site opens in new window
Phone
020 7984 5950
Fax
020 7984 5951
Address
Warner House
98 Theobalds Road
London
WC1X 8WB
Notes
The main source in the UK for hire of feature films for non-theatrical presentations. The extensive catalogue includes vintage classics, independent films and big blockbusters. Available on 16mm as well as VHS and DVD. Also provides advice on contractual matters.

Distributor (Sale)

Name

Retail outlets

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