Internet Shakespeare Editions

Shakespeare in Performance: Film

King Lear (1983, Michael Elliott)

TitleKing Lear
Release LocationsGB
DirectorMichael Elliott
MediumColor video
Length2 hrs, 38 mins
Audiencecollege and university
general public
high school
Play ConnectionsKing Lear (interpretation)


The production, taped in three weeks at the Manchester TV Centre, is set in ninth-century Britain. The set required twenty-four huge stones of polystyrene in imitation of the mysterious druidic ruin at Stonehenge in Salisbury Plain, an oak tree, hundreds of clumps of heather, and twelve butterflies, among other things. Olivier had played the title role in King Lear (with Alec Guinness as the Fool) at London's Old Vic in 1946. The U.S. premiere of this television production took place on May 4, 1983 at the New York City Museum of Broadcasting as a part of the celebration marking the "Britain Salutes New York" Festival

Description from Shakespeare on Screen : an International Filmography and Videography by Kenneth S. Rothwell and Annabelle Henkin Melzer. ©1990 Kenneth S. Rothwell. Cited by permission. — Added 2008-11-14

Cast Overview

King LearLaurence Olivier
GonerilDorothy Tutin
CordeliaAnna Calder-Marshall
FoolJohn Hurt
FranceEdward Petherbridge
BurgundyBrian Cox
CornwallJeremy Kemp
AlbanyRobert Lang
KentColin Blakely
GloucesterLeo McKern
EdgarDavid Threlfal
EdmundRobert Lindsay
Old ManEsmond Knight
DoctorPaul Curran
OswaldGeoffrey Bateman
KnightJohn Cording

Production Team and Crew Overview

DirectorMichael Elliott
ProducerDavid Plowright
ComposerGordon Crosse
CostumesTanya Moiseiwitsch
ProductionRoy Stonehouse

Production information courtesy of: Kenneth Rothwell