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Al Pacino to Star in Michael Radford's Adaptation of King Lear

by
February 4, 2009

Al Pacino

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.

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  • Itri
    The only reason not to be excited is because of Al Pacino. I don't think he can pull it off. He used to, but not anymore. Shakespeare adaptations can always be made, that's not the problem. Plus, the director isn't that exciting so those would be my reasons for thinking this will be just as unspectacular as The Merchant of Venice he directed.
  • Angelo
    Too much negativity around here. Pacino showed in 2004 that he's still up for it, and no matter how much you disliked The Merchant of Venice, you can't argue that he wasn't great in it.
  • ?????
    You have a good point about being "thoroughly unexcited." If there isn't anything new and fresh, whats the point?
  • CatieLee
    I also think that Al Pacino is not the best choice for Lear. He was a great Shylock and an even better Richard, but he doesn't emanate the fragility that is so important for Lear. I am more excited about Anthony Hopkins at Lear in 2010. With an interesting line up for the daughters: Gwyneth Paltrow and Naomi Watts as Regan and Goneril respectively. Oddly Keira Knightly as the loyal and passive Cordelia. It will be interesting to see how far they take the eye-gouging scene. There you go Alex, a little blood and gore to hold you over til the end!
  • Luke
    Your loss, bro. The fact that classic literature (like Shakespeare) is underappreciated is directly linked to the fact that our country's reading comprehension levels are sinking year by year. We don't read the classics and it shows. We are falling behind the rest of the world and are happy to do so, as long as it doesn't interrupt our viewing of "So and So make a porno" Go ahead and keep pimping your zombie movies and Transformer flicks. I'll take mind-blowing lyrical language and a 600-year-old blockbuster anyday. The casting of Pacino is not so top-notch. I'd rather see Derek Jacobi, Ian Holm, Ian McKellan, Patrick Stewart, or Ben Kingsley..
  • BahHumbug
    ALEX! A QUESTION. So what happened to Joshua Michael Stern's Anthony Hopkins King Lear film that was going to be heading into production once Hopkins was done with The Wolfman.
  • Rabican
    Yes, you are extremely correct. "Classical Shakespeare" cannot work on the "big screen" anymore because the further in time we are from Shakespeare's era, the less his work has an emotional impact when presented in "its period". So, let's hope there are more Shakespearean reduxes like the extremely wonderful "Romeo + Juliet" and Ethan Hawke's "Hamlet" adaptation. After all, having every movie set in modern times means the film will be extremely well-crafted and meaningful. I applaud your extreme insight, sir.
  • Seductive Flamingo
    Ugh. Why would they even try doing King Leer. One of the worst Shakespear works in my opinion. Did ANYONE see the most recent Merchant of Venice? TERRIBLE. That is supposed to be a COMEDY and they turned it into drama crap. Shakespear on the big screen hardly ever actually translates well to the big screen. There has been one that I know of that actually was a pretty good representation which of course is Romeo + Juliet(Love me some Baz!). So unless some trailers get me excited I will not be looking forward to this movie.
  • Fisherr
    Not interested thank you.

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