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Peter Brook's King Lear

4.6 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews


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Product Details

  • Actors: Paul Scofield, Irene Worth, Alan Webb, Patrick Magee, Jack MacGowran
  • Directors: Peter Brook
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • Run Time: 137 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002AAPQW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,718 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

FACTORY SEALED. DIGITALLY REMASTERED. PAUL SCOFIELD STARS IN THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY PRODUCTION. NTSC FORMAT (PLAYABLE ON AMERICAN SYSTEMS). OUT OF PRINT. NO SCHEDULED DVD RELEASE.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Shakespeare, Peter Brooks, Paul Schofield and Jack McGowan. My God, this movie is good. Will someone explain to me why it's not been released on DVD? It sliced my soul when I first saw it over 30 years ago. It continues to touch me deep down where the meanings are with it's relentless look at human despair and courage at the mercy of random fate. "We are to the gods like flies to wanton boys. They kill us for their sport".
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Format: VHS Tape
I have never seen a better Lear - on film or in the theatre. This is such a difficult role as the King moves from pride and
folly to anger and bitterness, to madness, and then to humility and understanding. Peter Brook films the play in the winter of England which adds to the bleakness of the tragedy. The visuals are stunning in black and white - an outstanding choice to
bring out the mythic nature of the play. Outstanding...should be on DVD.
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Format: VHS Tape
Director Peter Brook's adaptation of Shakespeare's towering play was made under the influence of Polish theater critic Jan Kott, who focused on the contemporary, existential aspects of the playwright's work. As a result, the film, which stars Paul Scofield as the eponymous monarch, seems less about the betrayal of an arrogant father by his grasping children, than about a Beckett character wandering the landscape of a meaningless universe. When Lear has decided it's time to divide his realm among his daughters Goneril (Irene Worth), Regan (Susan Engel), and Cordelia (Anne-Lise Gabold), he foolishly disinherits the latter for her honesty. The other sisters quickly dispense with their father's claims to dignity, and, traumatized by their cruelty, the ex-ruler is soon wandering the moors and ranting at the elements, in the company of his loyal Fool (Jack McGowran).

As another reviewer put it: "The power of the text is given full rein in stunning performances, in particular that of Paul Scofield, an actor of breathtaking skill, emotional depth and humility. Full accolades must go to Scofield, with his craggy face, startling eyes and suitably moody performance." And I heartily agree. Scofield's performance is incredible. This is one Lear you won't soon forget.
(This is a very difficult video to find -- some libraries still have it, and I found it there. If you can find a copy, consider yourself most fortunate. You'll find occasion to watch this excellent production by the Royal Shakespeare Company more than once!)
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Format: VHS Tape
Schofield is a convincing Lear, investing the role with an intelligent balance of gravitas and confusion - a more rounded and less self conscious portrayal than Olivier's. The supporting cast is uniformly excellent - without doubt one of the strongest on film. Brooke's direction is well paced, intense and a sustained visually bleak metaphor for the text, which it should be noted is incomplete. From Cordelia's first speech, lines are cut throughout, which may facilitate the pace of the action, but which for purists may be less than acceptable. The austere intensity of the direction is well complimented by the black and white photography and occasional Beckettesque extreme close ups which lend to an existing atmosphere of brooding and almost menacing despair. The harrowing final scene is particularly well directed, cleverly avoiding easy sentimentality. This can now be bought on dvd as part of Universal's excellent 5 disc Shakespeare Collection.
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Format: VHS Tape
The reviewers here all give this masterpiece of a film (and a life-changing play) great reviews. On a freezing winter day in early 1972 I took a train from Philadelphia to New York and sat through two showings of this and came home. This was the closest place I could see it. Not a lot of people have seen this film. It is an amazing film.

Will the "powers that be" please reissue it on a DVD in the USA at an affordable price? Attention-Criterion!
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Format: VHS Tape
Of all the excellent performances of King Lear available to watch, Peter Brook's version (with a stand-out performance by Scofield, with an incredible character arc that few actors could carry off within one dramatic piece) is by far the very best.

If you haven't seen Peter Brooks' King Lear, you've missed an experience of the play that will transform your appreciation of Shakespeare forever. Pure genius. Thought-provoking, disturbing, also oddly inspiring...and amazing cinematography that enhances the experience through the stark landscapes and use of light and shadow.

Highly recommended.

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To the reviewer just above me - what is offered on this Amazon page is a VIDEO, not a DVD. Brooks' Lear has (unfortunately!) not been officially released on DVD for the U.S. market and unfortunately the only DVD version I have found available is for Region 2 (PAL), which works in the U.K. Get the video version offered here if you're after the best production values available at this time for those of us in the U.S. or Canada (or any NTSC [region 1] viewing areas).
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Format: DVD
When Ingmar Bergman stated Peter Brook was the most important dramaturge of the century, many people could have thought this was a cordial and showy distinction, but the unerring test of time has dictated its last word and seems to sustain with legitimate argumentation this affirmation.

Paul Scofield (1922-2008) (A man for all seasons), made probably his most extraordinary lifetime role with this enigmatic and emblematic personage of Shakespeare's genius.

Respect King Lear and Orson Welles there's a curious and worthy to tell fact. Lear was the first Shakespeare's work learnt by him when he was just a kid and finally it was his unfinished project when the death surprised him in October 10, 1985. Previously, in 1957 O. W. recreated King Lear under the direction of Peter Brook too but in theatre, as well as Laurence Olivier during the early eighties, but as far as I know, the powerful ambiance and primitive stages in which this existential drama was conveyed nurtured and provided of ferocious realism this outstanding adaptation. Of course, we should not ignore the mesmerizing adaptation of Kurosawa in Ran in 1985.

Sequences like the fury of elements, the initial statement of Lear, the disinheritance of Cordelia, the curse over Goneril, the painful dialogue with Gloucester in the middle of nowhere on that lonely shore and his last words hardly will be able to be erased from our memory.

Special kudos for the unforgettable Irene Worth as Goneril and Patrick Mac Gohan as Duke Cornwall.

A film that has become legend since its immediate release.
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