Anthony Hopkins will once again star in a title by William Shakespeare, as King Lear, one of the Bard’s most famous works, gets a star-studded adaptation at Amazon Prime Video in September. The new film is adapted and directed by Richard Eyre, who recently worked with Hopkins and Ian McKellan in the Starz adaptation of The Dresser in 2015, and his work here looks as though it will continue the tradition of setting Shakespeare’s work in fictionalized versions of more modern eras. The same has been done to varying effect with films like Richard III, Julie Taymor’s Titus (which also starred Hopkins), Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus, the Ethan Hawke-starring Hamlet, and the Patrick Stewart-led 2010 adaptation of Macbeth.
This time, Hopkins will be joined by a murderers' row of talent that includes Emma Thompson, Jim Broadbent, Emily Watson, Florence Pugh (Little Drummer Girl), Tobias Menzies (The Crown), Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), Christopher Eccleston (The Leftovers), and Andrews Scott (Sherlock). In addition to the chance to see Hopkins working alongside something other than robots (both CGI and otherwise), the film’s lineup should be enough to pique the interest of curious viewers with a Prime account.
Though it probably doesn’t require it, you can check out a full synopsis for Amazon’s King Lear below:
“Set in the fictional present, King Lear begins as the 80 year-old King Lear divides his kingdom among his daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia, according to their affection for him. Cordelia refuses to flatter him, so he banishes her. Having acquired power, Goneril and Regan expel their father from their homes. At the same time, Lear's prime minister, Gloucester, is betrayed by his son Edmund and his other son, Edgar, is forced to go into hiding. Lear becomes mad, Gloucester is blinded: both the kingdom and the family collapse into chaos and warfare. Lear and Cordelia are re-united; for a brief moment love reigns, then tragedy descends.”
With its use of contemporary attire and setting, especially the uniforms worn by the military constantly flanking the king, the new trailer certainly bears a striking resemblance to the 2010 BBC film adaptation of Macbeth. Whether or not the updated setting will make the film more appealing to audiences unfamiliar with the production remains to be seen, but it certainly demonstrates just how easily Shakespeare’s work transcends time and space to offer a compelling and resonant tale no matter the era in which it's mean to unfold.
King Lear will stream on Friday, September 28 on Amazon Prime Video.