I greatly enjoyed the new production of ‘King Lear’ as played by Anthony Hopkins on Amazon video. I could not stop watching on screen as Sir Anthony Hopkins created his portrayal of King Lear. He was a recognizable personality, not a character, as a great man whose position and influence have so affected his admirable character as to make that character not only intelligent and charismatic but also egotistical, self centered and cruel. I believed this King Lear and his hubris to believe that his position and authority were not part of what made him indomitable, hence, giving them away to his daughters who fawned on him without thinking of the consequences, while devaluing honest discourse as offered by his third and best loved daughter, Cordelia.
This was my first experience with Shakespearean literature within a modern context. I thought it would be weird and dysmorphic but it was not. I attribute that to the universality of the human condition, and to Shakespeare’s razor sharp understanding of it. The self congratulatory leader is still the same. His followers are still a mix of the self-interested, the conniving, and the sincere. If you want to learn about the human psyche you can learn more from the works of Shakespeare than a good psychology book. Despite what we think we have not changed that much, and to prove it you just need to read Shakespeare.
Purists gave it terrible reviews on Amazon, but others who allowed it to stand for itself commented on the interesting touches such as the homeless camp and the treatment of minorities and those suffering from mental illness that brought this work right into our 21st century.
The supporting cast was excellent, particularly Jim Broadbent as Earl of Gloucester, Andrew Scott as Edgar, and Emma Thompson as the snotty elder sister who is a bit too much like her father’s worst side. Perhaps my favorite character, the Fool, was admirably done by Karl Johnson.
Overall, given the screen limitations of time and the added benefits of a well-funded movie on location, I would say the result was excellent.