1. Peter Brook’s King Lear (1971)
1971 is obviously the key year for Shakespearean film, as two of my top three, and the two greatest cinematic King Lears, were both made in that year. Peter Brook’s Lear just tops Kozintsev’s because it is even bleaker – indeed, impossible as it sounds, it is even bleaker than Shakespeare’s ending. When Paul Scofield’s Lear imagines seeing a living Cordelia again, even as he holds his daughter’s corpse in his arms, it is the ultimate Shakespearean cinematic trick: the classic example of how the finest Shakespearean adaptations not only capture great stage productions (Brook’s film was based on his own legendary production with Scofield for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford) but add to and enhance them.