17 November 1999 | Shakespeare Bond
Olivier is far and away the best Lear I've seen
I've never been that impressed with Olivier's acting. His Hamlet seemed quite boring. That changed after I saw this and his "Merchant of Venice." As Olivier got older, he got better. No more grandstanding, no more showy heroes. Having seen other Lears waste the role with constant shouting or with boringly stone-faced acting, I was impressed with the range of emotion Olivier revealed here. This Lear was the only one I could pity. He seems more hurt than angry by Cordelia's "Nothing." He shifts instantly between self-pity, blind rage, and knowledge, just as Lear does in the text.
The music was awful. Terribly melodramatic. Almost ruined the film.
Diana Rigg is absolutely chilling as Reagan and the Fool is touchingly dependent on Lear. Far less caustic than I imagined him.
This isn't the "definitive" Lear. There isn't one. But this comes close.