King Lear (1971 USSR film)

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King Lear
Film poster
Directed byGrigori Kozintsev
Written byGrigori Kozintsev
William Shakespeare (play)
Boris Pasternak (Russian translation, 1919)
StarringJüri Järvet
Oleg Dahl
Elza Radziņa
Galina Volchek
CinematographyJonas Gricius
Edited byYe. Makhankova
Music byDmitri Shostakovich
Release date
8 February 1971 (Soviet Union)
Running time
130 minutes
CountrySoviet Union

King Lear (Russian: Король Лир, romanizedKorol Lir) is a 1971 Soviet drama film directed by Grigori Kozintsev, based on William Shakespeare's play King Lear. The film uses Boris Pasternak's translation of the play, while the Fool's songs are translated by Samuil Marshak. It was Kozintsev's last completed film.


Grigori Kozintsev considered many actors for the role of Lear. The casting director first suggested Jüri Järvet for the small part of a tramp, but Kozintsev offered him the title role. He later explained: "The internal world of this actor seemed attractive to me. This is an actor of deep thought. He is able to play the role with philosophical depth. Järvet is equally strong in humour, in that particular sort of humour that sometimes touches upon grotesque".[1] Järvet was only 50 years old by the time of filming.

The role of Goneril is portrayed by Latvian actress Elza Radziņa, who also appeared in Kozintsev's Hamlet as Gertrude. Radzina was one of the co-founders of the Sovremennik Theatre. The role of Regan went to Galina Volchek, whose casting was first met with some skepticism but went on to be a success.[2] The relatively unknown Valentina Shendrikova of the Mayakovsky Theatre plays Cordelia. Oleg Dahl, one of the stars of the Sovremennik Theatre, was chosen to play the Fool without an audition, after a short conversation with the director. His performance received wide critical acclaim. Kozintsev also incorporated a number of experienced theatre actors from Latvia and Lithuania: Donatas Banionis as Albany, Kārlis Sebris as Gloucester, Leonhard Merzin as Edgar, and Regimantas Adomaitis as Edmund. The role of Oswald went to then-unknown Aleksei Petrenko.

The film was shot primarily in Narva and Ivangorod. Its extensive set of houses and streets was built inside the Ivangorod Fortress, which was under reconstruction at the time of filming. The film's scenic designers were Evgeny Eney and Vsevolod Ulitko; its costumes were created by the chief designer of the Bolshoi Theatre Simon Virsaladze. Dmitri Shostakovich composed the film's score.



See also[edit]


  1. ^ "По волнам нашей памяти. Как снимали "Король Лир" (+ сам фильм) |".
  2. ^ "Вместо бродяги стал королем: как снимали советскую экранизацию «Короля Лира»".

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