The King Is Alive


(out of 5)

Shakespeare comes easily to the desperate when a group of American tourists and their African driver are stranded after their bus breaks down in the middle of the Sahara desert. Left alone in a ghost village with no means of sustenance or communication, the group need to fend off the elements and avoid turning on each other by keeping their spirits up with an impromptu production of King Lear.  None of them are actually actors, however (the big joke in the film is watching fantastic performers like  and trying to read dialogue as if they’ve never done it before) and the exercise keeps threatening to turn futile until their situation becomes so desperate that the Bard’s verses take on genuine meaning for them. While it presents a fascinating premise, the whole thing feels like a collection of deleted scenes from a DVD special features section; none of the dialogue or action amounts to anything, and even the great performances do very little to make it more than a wearing exercise in style.

Newmarket Capital Group, Good Machine, Zentropa Entertainments, Danmarks Radio, SVT Drama, TV2 Norge, Yleisradio, Nordisk Film- & TV-Fond, Det Danske Filminstitut

Sweden/Denmark/USA, 2000

Directed by

Screenplay by Kristian Levring, , with inspiration from the play King Lear by

Cinematography by

Produced by , ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Toronto International Film Festival 2000

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