Preview of the Film

The pairing of one of the most beloved operas of all time with a contemporary “dream team” of singers sets the stage for a silver screen romantic blockbuster. Released theatrically in October, the lush new film version of La Bohème makes its U.S. television debut on Great Performances during the holiday season – a perfect […]

Production Announcement

Following a London West End run in December 2007, a sold-out limited engagement at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in March 2008, and a subsequent eight-week run on Broadway, director Rupert Goold’s gripping stage production of Macbeth—starring Patrick Stewart in a triumphant, Tony-nominated performance—will be filmed for television in a co-production agreement between WNET.ORG and […]

Persons of the Play

King Lear Goneril His eldest daughter Regan His middle daughter Cordelia His youngest daughter Albany, Duke of Goneril’s husband Cornwall, Duke of Regan’s husband Gloucester, Duke of (pronounced “Gloster”) Edgar His legitimate son Edmund His bastard son (later called “Gloucester” himself after he usurps his father’s title) Kent King Lear’s loyal earl Duke of Burgundy […]

Ian McKellen Film

Ian McKellen has been praised as the Olivier of our age.  But for the many Shakespearean roles he has taken on stage, we only have three previous Shakespearean plays with him in film—Macbeth with Judi Dench (1979), Othello in which he plays Iago (1990), and Richard III (1995).  He will be 70 in May; this […]

Adaptations in Film

The basic story of King Lear goes back to ancient English myths. The general idea of three daughters, two wicked and one good, with arbitrary love tests, goes back at least to a second century AD novel by Apuleius called The Golden Ass. A play was written for the English stage around the mythical King […]

King Lear Films

We are blessed with eleven film versions of King Lear (including the announced release of the McKellen film).  While we might say that some are better than others, each has value and interest.  Indeed, a more useful distinction might be between those taking a conventional approach to the play compared to those veering into experimental […]

Background on King Lear

Shakespeare’s Sources As was his general habit, Shakespeare borrowed his two plots from previous sources. Holinshed reported in his Chronicles (1577) a story that dates back as far as Geoffrey of Monmouth (1136) in which a supposedly real King Leir who ruled England around 800 BC divides his kingdom between two of his daughters, disowning […]