Directed by Akira KurosawaJapan | 1985
Hidetora’s life is saved due to the misplacement of his short sword, the only tool that would guarantee him an honorable excursion to the afterlife. But he dies metaphorically in that castle with flaming arrows and rifle shot exploding around him, unable to end his own life or to have someone else end it. Hidetora’s forgetfulness is a sign among a multitude of signs that he has been unmanned as a warrior-king. His senility is first apparent when he fails to see the designs of his older sons or guess the motives of the youngest…
Directed by Peter BrookUnited Kingdom, Denmark | 1971
Here we have what must surely be the bleakest Lear on film… this Lear reveals a general truth about screen adaptations of Shakespeare in that, sometimes, the majesty of the language and breadth of the plays must be sacrificed in order to capture the tonal spirit through the images. Unfortunately, there almost always seems to be a disconnection between Shakespeare that’s liberally adapted to make cinematic masterpieces (like Kurosawa’s Ran) and Shakespeare that’s faithfully adapted to make, well, screened theater productions. Brook’s Lear definitely falls into the “cinematic” category, and it works superbly on that level.