Al Pacino to Star in Michael Radford's Adaptation of King Lear
by Alex Billington
February 4, 2009
William Shakespeare is headed back to the big screen again. Michael Radford is writing and directing a new adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear and has set Al Pacino to play the lead role. Radford and Pacino previously worked together on Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice in 2004, where Pacino played Shylock. "Al has been offered this role many times over the years, but didn't feel ready," producer Barry Navidi told Variety. "He's ready now. The film will be true to its period, very similar to the classical look of Merchant of Venice. Michael came up with the most brilliant adaptation and Al and I flipped for it."
Here is a quick intro to the story in King Lear from Wikipedia: Lear, who is old, wants to retire from power. He decides to divide his realm among his three daughters, and offers the largest share to the one who loves him best. Goneril and Regan both proclaim in fulsome terms that they love him more than anything in the world, which pleases him. Cordelia speaks temperately and honestly, which annoys him. In his anger he disinherits her, and divides the kingdom between the other two. Kent objects to this unfair treatment, but Lear is further enraged by such contradiction, and banishes him from the country.
While I am a big William Shakespeare fan and love Al Pacino, I'm not too excited for this. Why? Because I'm just not sure if classical Shakespeare can still work on the big screen anymore. I admire films like Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet because they actually bring something fresh and new to the table. King Lear has already been done numerous times before, so what is going to make this adaptation any different? Especially when "the film will be true to its period" - I don't want to see any more period pieces, even with Al Pacino! Unfortunately, this is one of those rare times where I admit I'm thoroughly unexcited.