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Although the production suffers from some truncation to the script (nearly an hour of dialogue is cut out), it is redeemed by the astounding performances of its more-than-able cast: Colin Blakely is a strong, virtuous Kent, Dorothy Tutin and Diana Rigg make for a marvelously wicked double-act as the evil daughters, John Hurt is heart-wrenching even as you laugh at him as the tragic Fool, and while the brothers' performances lack in-depth shading, the whole cast could be very well be subpar and still be redeemed by Olivier's marvelous Lear. Some interesting directorial flourishes make for the definitive screen version to date of the greatest play ever written.
The pacing of this cheaply made film is glacial, but the emotion of the story and Olivier's Lear pull it through.
Lear as it should be Performed, by Sir Laurence Olivier
Olivier is brilliant -as always- as King Lear, with Diana Rigg being the "next best thing" as Regan. But John Hurt's performane is perfect. I think he belongs to a very small number of actors, who are capable of making the viewer understand exactly what their characters are thinking and feeling. His Fool is one of the most sincere and beautiful performances I have ever seen.
Olivier's Lear made me like Shakespeare.
This was my first real exposure to both Olivier and Shakespeare. I promptly decided that I loved both. I was about 15. I didn't know much about anything, but I knew excellence when I saw it.
There are some top actors in this and many of them deliver fine performances but the whole thing is kind of brought down for me by the rather theatrical staging and cheap-looking production values. Plus the whole country seems to be permanently shrouded in mist. The director really didn't get the most out of the film medium and so some great performances end up being a bit muted and the whole thing a little slow and dull - a problem of many Shakespearean adaptions.
The acting is great, but the way it is filmed reminds me of one of those cheesy soap operas.
Lawrence Olivier was amazing. the man speaks Shakespeare as if he wrote the dam thing. this looked very low budget and that being said it was still pretty sick. this was a great cast ensemble.