Shakespeare Plays Available in Video Format
Scholars Online Educational Resources

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All’s Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Coriolanus
Cymbeline
Hamlet
Henry IV, part 1
Henry IV, part 2
Henry V
Henry VI, part 1
Henry VI, part 2
Henry VI, part 3
Henry VIII
Julius Caesar
King John
King Lear
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Macbeth
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Othello
Pericles
Richard II
Richard III
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Winter’s Tale
Shakespeareana

Available versions

1953: Andrew McCullough

1971: Peter Brook

1971: Grigori Kozintsev (Korol Lir)

1974: Edwin Sherin

1976: Tony Davenall

1982: Jonathan Miller

1983: Michael Elliott

1998: Richard Eyre

1999: Brian Blessed

2008: Trevor Nunn

2015: Alexander Barnett


Adaptations

1985: Ran

1987: King Lear

1997: A Thousand Acres

2000: The King is Alive

2002: King of Texas


Production drama

2003: Slings and Arrows (Season 3)


Related

2015: Shakespeare Uncovered, Season 2, Episode 6


King Lear

King Lear is, according to the seasoned Shakespeare critic and scholar Maurice Charney, “the most savage and unredeemed of Shakespeare’s tragedies”, while he considers the character of Lear himself to be “the most fully developed of Shakespeare’s tragic protagonists”. At the same time he finds the play very didactic — even preachy — at times. Such contradictions are part of what leads Harold Bloom to confess (in his commentary on the play) that “King Lear, together with Hamlet, ultimately baffles commentary”. I think they’re both right. It’s a vast, intense, sprawling, and somewhat undisciplined play, founded more upon a mood and a tonality than upon any particular plot or narrative movement from point A to point B.

Accordingly it keeps not only readers but viewers off balance. Its curious construction and apparent disproportions are bewildering. It is nearly impossible to figure out whether there is anyone who has the whole picture or who holds the moral high ground. It is not an easy play, therefore, in any respect.

For all that, the outline of the story is remarkably straightforward and devoid of complications. Lear foolishly determines to divide his kingdom amongst his daughters, and in so doing, is swayed too little by plain but honest speech (that of Cordelia) and instead actively seeks and rewards flattery. The rest of the play is the playing-out of this initial folly. Lear himself, of course, winds up paying the price for his capriciousness; but other characters in the play — none of them entirely good or wise — are also ensnared in the brutal consequences of his blindness as well.

Film versions of King Lear have been made in some number — not as many as versions of Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet, perhaps, but quite a number. The play is something for the seasoned and respected Shakespeare actor to sink his teeth into at or near the end of his career. It has been the capstone achievement of many a Shakspearean, and it’s one of those plays (like Hamlet) that will rise and fall based on the single performance of its lead character.