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The role of Lear is famously difficult for the many contrary demands it places on the actor, and it must be said at the outset that Ian McKellan acquits himself admirably in this production. Romola Garal's Cordelia and Sylvester McCoy's Fool are also carefully interpreted, as is Jonathan Hyde's Kent. Ben Meyjes' Edgar begins as a nerdy older brother and completes the metamorphosis through Poor Tom the madman to avenging hero in a way that stretches the role. Beyond this, the pacing is quite good, despite the inevitable risks in trying to shoot a stage production on film. McKellan's interview, the only special feature here, is also a "don't miss"--the great actor meditates on his profession.

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PBS601 King Lear DVD (2008/Ian McKellen) $24.99 $22.49