Multiple Viewpoints of Shakespeare’s King Lear Shakespeare’s King Lear is a tragic about an aging King of Britain and his three daughters. When it comes time to divide his kingdom, he puts his daughters through a test to prove how much they love him. The two older daughters, Goner il and Regan, give King Lear flattering answers and therefore receive great amounts of finer land. The third and youngest daughter, Cordilia, says that she has no words to describe how much she loves her father. King Lear becomes enraged with Cordilia and disowns her and gives her no land. The rest of the play tells the story of how the two older daughters become corrupt and get greedy.
King Leer is thrown out of his own house by his daughters and begins his decline into madness. This plot has lead to the development of different interpretations and versions of the play. These slants change the setting and viewpoint of the play, but not the basic plot and story line. Shakespeare sets up King Leer as a tragedy. The play is meant to be very dramatic and done with lots of emotion.
This can be seen when King Leer is having his rage with the storm as well as when he finds his daughter Cordilia dead. He begins to slip in and out of madness once again. This same drama is tried to be displayed in the slant of Shakespeare’s King Lear, King of Texas. The director of King of Texas, Ulrich Edel, a director from Neuen burg am Rhein, Germany, has directed many movies, television shows, as well as television mini series since 1984. Ulrich Edel also has some experience with Shakespeare before. In 2002 he directed the television mini series on USA, Julius Caesar.
Ulrich Edel selects a cast that also has some excellent credentials. Patrick Stewart plays the lead of John Leer in the movie. Patrick Stewart is famous for being Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek the Next Generation, which ran from 1987-1994. Stewart also has extensive Shakespeare experience.
He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1966, to begin 27-year association. Patrick Stewart in supported by Marcia Gay Harden, Oscar-nominated for ‘Pollock”, Lauren Holly, and Julie Cox. All of these actors and actresses along with Ulrich Edel’s credentials bring good credibility to the movie. The movie itself was nominated and won some awards. Patrick Stewart was nominated for a Golden Satellite Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television (IMDB np). Marcia Gay Harden was also nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television (IMDB np).
The movie itself won the Bronze Wrangler Award in the Western Heritage Awards for Television Feature Film. King of Texas also was presented the Spur Award by Western Writers of America for the best drama script (IMDB np). King of Texas is a movie based on the same story line as King Leer. The movie is a western version of King Leer and catered to a younger audience.
King of Texas is based in Texas when Texas was an independent country. John Leer, played by Patrick Stewart, is a man who owns a large ranch in Texas. Instead of being rivals with the French his main competition is a Mexican ranch owner to his south. Leer has three daughters, Suzanna h, Rebecca, and Claudia, and wants to break up his land between them before he dies. He gives each daughter a chance to tell him how much they love him. When the two older daughters give him flattering answers he in return gives them large portions of his ranch.
When his youngest daughter says she can not explain to him how much she loves him, Leer becomes enraged and disowns her. This is the same as when King Leer breaks up his kingdom in Britain. The technical aspect of the movie matches the story well. The site where the movie was shot gives the impression that Leer’s ranch is the largest and most important in Texas. It makes Leer seem as if he may actually be the king of Texas. The costumes and set completely go along with western tradition of the time.
Each of these aspects set the tone of the movie. Some reviews of the movie however are not so appealing. Arthur Lazere, a freelance writer for electronic and print media, does not give the movie a great review. He is a member of the International Association of Art Critics, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Online Film Critics Society (Culture Vulture np). Lazere says, “For all that, King of Texas never rises to Shakespearean heights. It is sorely missing the rhythm and cadence of Shakespeare’s poetry which transmutes human frailties into moving tragedy…
.” (Culture Vulture np). Lazere goes on to state examples of how the movie was lacking the needed feeling or emotion needed in a Shakespearian production, “When Lear is in a desert storm howling his rage, lightening is substituted for poetry in an attempt to inject some drama, but instead the scene devolves into mere noise, with little impact. Genuine emotion is elicited in the scene when Lear finds Claudia dead, but that is the exception to the overall emotional flatness of the film. King of Texas does not attain the catharsis of the great tragedy it uses as its model, but manages to deliver only melodrama (Culture Vulture np).” King of Texas received another bad review from Taylor Fogarty. American Western Magazine – Readthewest. com was founded in 1998.
Some of Taylor Fogarty’s professional affiliations include membership in Wyoming Writers Inc. and has been an active member of Western Writers of America (Read the West np). Fogarty knocks on the films lack of ability to portray a quality western,” King of Texas is not a Western; it is experimental melodramatic theater at best. But I’ll bet you a dollar a do nut this baby will end up winning some kind of award simply because it is presented under the guise of “a western.” With such little competition within the genre these days it’s no wonder quality film projects are few and far between. After all, why go through all the hassle of making a damn good western when a mediocre one will do? (Read the West np) ” The critical reviews do not seem to match up to what the audience’s response about the movie. David Johnson, a reviewer on Amazon.
com, complemented the movie. He said that movie helped him to understand the play a little more as well as entertain him. Johnson says about King of Texas, “This movie will help anyone who didn’t quite understand the play. It could be used as a study guide because of how well it follows the play.
I recommend this movie to anyone ready for a hoot-hollering good time with a poetic twist (Johnson np) .” He gave the movie four out of five stars. There were many other positive reviews by people that have seen King of Texas. Chris Gibson, another reviewer from Amazon. com, felt as if the transition of the play to a western was done very well.
Gibson says that he could relate more to the movie because of the setting, “The transition to a western setting was done very well. I could relate more with characters placed in a setting more familiar than old Britain. The acting and directing was good, and even though it’s a TNT made-for-T. V. movie, it’s very polished.
Because this isn’t your normal western, I’d recommend this to everyone. (Even those who don’t like westerns) (Gibson np) .” Gibson also gave King of Texas four out of five stars. It is difficult for a director to use his artistic license and keep the main themes and ideas of the play the same. Many credited reviewers said that Edel did not do a very good job of this, however many people of the audience said it helped them relate more to King Lear after watching the movie. Although the details of the movie may not have been up to par with most, it seemed to entertain and be enjoyed by the audience. King of Texas is only one viewpoint on King Lear.
This version can be taken as just a movie to entertain or a slant on Shakespeare’s King Leer. Works CitedHalio, Jay L. , ed. Critical Essays on Shakespeare’s King Lear.
New York: Prentice Hall International, 1996.” King of Texas.” Culture Vulture. September 21, 1998. 2 March 2005. web “King of Texas.” I MBD. 2 March 2005. web “King of Texas.” American Western Magazine.
2 March 2005. web “King of Texas.” Amazon. 2 March 2005. web csp 1/104-4653801-4063160? v = glance&s = dvd&n = 507846#product-details Quinn, Edward G. , ed. William Shakespeare’s King Lear.
New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1970.