Study Help Film Versions


Adaptations of Shakespeare's plays and other works have been featured in nearly 500 films and/or videos world-wide. That makes Shakespeare the most filmed playwright of all time! Here are the best, and most noteworthy, versions of King Lear that can help you study and better understand the play.

King Lear

  • 1984
  • Director: Michael Elliott
  • Not Rated

This version stars Laurence Olivier in the lead role. This made-for-TV version of King Lear is spare and stylized, including an impressive opening scene filmed at Stonehenge.


  • 1985
  • Director: Akira Kurosawa
  • Rating: R

The great Japanese director, Akira Kurosawa, made his powerful interpretation of Shakespeare's King Lear when he was 75 years old. In this version, set in ancient Samurai times, an old lord retires and leaves his kingdom to his three sons, rather than three daughters, but with the same tragic results.