Shakespeare Plays Available in Video Format
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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
1983: Michael Elliott

This marks the end of Laurence Olivier’s long and distinguished career as a presenter of Shakespeare on film — and indeed, as an actor altogether. When it was made, Olivier was old and sick, and the Lear is accordingly not the towering picture of physical grandeur reduced to impotence and madness; his mind seems to be collapsing inwardly into a dithery confusion. It’s probably the most underplayed of Olivier’s roles, with the result that even those who don’t like Olivier’s rather overplayed earlier performances might find this one worthwhile.

The cast includes a collection of notable actors: Jeremy Kemp, who seems to have played a Nazi more often than anyone who speaks English, appears here in fine form; the varied John Hurt, who has played characters from the psychotic Caligula in I, Claudius, Richard Rich in A Man for All Seasons, the inscrutable industrial mogul in Contact, and Olivander in the Harry Potter movies, here takes a turn as the beloved Fool, who speaks (of course) nothing but wisdom throughout. Leo McKern, known as Cromwell in A Man for All Seasons, the old monk in Ladyhawke, and (most famously) Rumpole of the Bailey, is here Gloucester. Edward Petherbridge, who played Lord Peter Wimsey in the BBC’s second series of Lord Peter dramas (after Ian Carmichael’s earlier series), is the King of France, and Diana Rigg (the original Avengers, as well as the 1968 Midsummer Night’s Dream) is the evilly conniving Regan.

Altogether, the performance is elegantly assembled, and mixed with a melancholy sense that not only Lear but also Olivier is on his last legs; there’s a kind of wistful delicacy about it that seems counter-thematic in King Lear, but it works — though one ought to see at least one other King Lear to see how different it can be under different circumstances.


Albany: Robert Lang

Burgundy: Brian Cox

Cordelia: Anna Calder-Marshall

Cornwall’s Servant: Benny Young

Cornwall: Jeremy Kemp

Doctor: Paul Curran

Edgar: David Threlfall

Edmund’s Officer: Ian Ruskin

Edmund: Robert Lindsay

First Officer: Ronald Forfar

France: Edward Petherbridge

Gloucester: Leo McKern

Goneril: Dorothy Tutin

Kent: Colin Blakely

King Lear: Laurence Olivier

Lear’s Knight: John Cording

Old Man: Esmond Knight

Oswald: Geoffrey Bateman

Regan: Diana Rigg

Second Officer: Harry Walker

The Fool: John Hurt