"King Lear" on the Screen


Actor Anthony Hopkins portraying King Lear embraces Florence Pugh, who plays Cordelia.
Anthony Hopkins and Florence Pugh star in the 2018 adaptation of Shakespeare's "King Lear," produced by Amazon.

Jane Austen’s works have been adapted for the small and big screens countless times, but it’s arguably easier to adapt a play than a novel. And Shakespeare’s works find themselves at the movies and on television time and time again, whether the adaptations retain the language or change it to suit modern times.


In this post, we’ll round up some “King Lear” adaptations you may want to check out. This list is not exhaustive, so do share your favorites!


King Lear (1910)

What would a Shakespeare adaptation feel like without any language? Try this Italian short silent film.


King Lear (1953)

Orson Welles led the cast as the titular king in this televised theatrical production.

Ran (1985)

This Japanese adaptation, directed by Akira Kurosawa, is his third venture into Shakespearean territory, and speaks to the universality of Shakespeare’s plays and stories. Critics and industry folks alike routinely rank “Ran” as one of the best films every made.


King Lear (1987)

Interested in something more experimental? Try French new-wave director Jean-Luc Godard’s version. Although by all accounts, it’s definitely an oddity.


A Thousand Acres (1997)

This adaptation transposes the story into a contemporary midwestern farming setting and stars Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, and JASP fave Colin Firth. If you haven't seen it, there will be a screening at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 16.


King Lear (2008)

Thirteen years after Ian McKellen played the titular role in the movie adaptation of Richard III, the “Gandalf” actor rejoined fellow Shakespeare buff Trevor Nunn, who directed this modern version as well as several other Shakespeare adaptations.


King Lear (2018)

This television film has a star-studded cast, including Anthony Hopkins in the titular role, as well as Jim Broadbent, Florence Pugh, Emma Thompson, Emily Watson, and more, and is set in a dystopian London.


King Lear (Release date to come, still in production)

The great Al Pacino as King Lear? Yes, please!




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