King Lear (1987 film)
French theatrical poster for King Lear
|Directed by||Jean-Luc Godard|
|Produced by||Yoram Globus
|Written by||William Shakespeare (play)|
|Edited by||Jean-Luc Godard|
|Distributed by||Cannon Films|
King Lear is a 1987 film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, with a script primarily by Peter Sellars and Tom Luddy. It is not a typical cinematic adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear, although some lines from the play are used in the film. Only three characters - Lear, Cordelia and Edgar - are common to both, and only Act I, scene 1 is given a conventional cinematic treatment in that two or three people actually engage in relatively meaningful dialogue.
King Lear is set in and around Nyon, Vaud, Switzerland, where Godard went to school. While many of Godard's films are concerned with the invisible aspects of cinematography, the outward action of the film is centred on William Shakespeare Junior the Fifth, who is attempting to restore his ancestor's plays in a world where most of human civilization—and more specifically culture—has been lost after the Chernobyl catastrophe.
Rather than reproducing a performance of Shakespeare's play, the film is more concerned with the issues raised by the text, and symbolically explores the relationships between power and virtue, between fathers and daughters, words and images. The film deliberately does not use conventional Hollywood film-making techniques which make a film 'watchable', but instead seeks to alienate and baffle its audience in the manner of Berthold Brecht.
Cast (in order of appearance)
The film itself contains no credits or credit sequence at all, although there is a cast list on the packaging insert.[n 1]
- Menahem Golan as himself (voice off, uncredited)
- Jean-Luc Godard as himself (voice off)
- Tom Luddy (voice off, uncredited)
- Norman Mailer as himself
- Kate Mailer as herself
- Peter Sellars as William Shakespeare Jr. the Fifth, a descendant of William Shakespeare
- Burgess Meredith as Don Learo
- Molly Ringwald as Cordelia
- Suzanne Lanza as a goblin (uncredited)
- Michèle Pétin as a goblin (uncredited)
- Leos Carax as Edgar
- Julie Delpy as Virginia
- Jean-Luc Godard as Professor Pluggy
- Freddy Buache as Grigori Kozintsev ("Professor Quentin")
- Woody Allen as Mr. Alien
The script of Godard's film includes only a few of Shakespeare's lines from King Lear, and these are fragmentary and generally not heard in the order as they appear in the play. Many of the lines are not actually spoken by the characters on-screen (ie diegetically), but are often heard in voice-over, spoken perhaps almost incomprehensibly or barely whispered, repeated, echoed. The lines or phrases are taken from:
- Act 1, scenes 1,3,5;
- Act 2, scenes 2,4,6;
- Act 4, scenes 6 & 7;
- Act 5, scene 3.
There is nothing from Act 3.
Extracts from three of Shakespeare's sonnets, numbers 47, 138 and 60 are heard during the film. There is also a single line from Hamlet: "Inside me there is a kind of fighting which will not let me sleep." (Act V, scene 2:5)
"[This] film, not at all tragic, is intellectualized and does not offer the [casual] spectator the possibility of full understanding. As the filmmaker makes clear in the film, he does not intend to give it a comprehensive treatment, since it is only an approach, a study, which is obviously partial. There is nothing definitive about the text; it is constantly interrupted, discontinuous, a disordered mix of images, a true chaos..."
"The film does not present a linear story; rather, diegetically, this nearly does not exist. It is a mass of images, texts, voices without logical sequence. It has dozens of allusions to other works and quotes from famous texts[...] Each quotation, analogy, demands from the spectator great extra-textual knowledge. It is as if Godard concentrated centuries of art and culture in this film, reviewing all of history[...] What is derived from the [play's] text are only a few characters, vaguely associated with those of Shakespeare, and some speeches totally out of context."
Extracts from a number of modern literary sources are also heard during the film, some spoken by an on-screen character, some in voice-over on the deliberately confusing soundtrack. These readings are sometimes thought to be Godard's own words. They are listed in the order in which they appear in the film.
- "If an image, looked at separately...": Robert Bresson (1975). Notes sur le cinématographe.
Paris: Éditions Gallimard. Folio n°2705.[n 2]
- "I am alone," the world seems to say...": Jean Genet (1958). L'Atelier d'Alberto Giacometti
Paris: Éditions Gallimard.[n 3]
- "Now, even if Lansky and I are as awesome...": Albert Fried (1980). The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Gangster in America. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
- a) "A violent silence for silence of Cordelia..."
b) "A violent silence. The silence of Cordelia": Viviane Forrester (1980). La violence de la calme.
Paris: Editions du Seuil.
- "The image is a pure creation of the soul...": Pierre Reverdy (1918). L'image.
Revue Nord-Sud, n°13, March 1918.
- "And in me too, the wave rises, it swells, it arches its back..." Virginia Woolf (1931). The Waves.
London: Hogarth Press.
A number of commentators have drawn parallels between King Lear and The Waves.
The film begins with a sequence of extended inter-titles: 'The Cannon Group / Bahamas', 'A Picture Shot In The Back', 'King Lear / Fear and Loathing', 'King Lear / A study', 'An Approach'. A three-way telephone conversation is heard between the film's producer, Menahem Golan, Godard, and Tom Luddy. Golan complains about how long Godard is taking to make the film and insists that it must be ready for the 1987 Cannes Film Festival.[n 4]
At the Hotel du Rivage in Nyon, Norman Mailer discusses his new script for King Lear with his daughter Kate Mailer, and why the characters have Mafia-like names like Don Learo, Don Gloucestro.[n 5] He wants to go back to America. They sip orange juice. The whole scene is then repeated.[n 6]
William Shakespeare Junior (Will Jr.) sits at a table in the deserted hotel restaurant, overlooking Lake Geneva. There are some red tulips on the table. He wonders why he has been chosen to make this film, rather than a better-known director ("some goblin from Moscow or Beverly Hills"). In voice-over, Godard reads an extract from Robert Bresson's Notes sur le cinématographe. Will Jr. imagines 'auteurs' who should have made this film, like Marcel Pagnol, Kenji Mizoguchi, François Truffaut ("No"), Georges Franju, Robert Bresson, Pier Paulo Pasolini, Fritz Lang, Georges Melies, Jaques Tati, Jean Cocteau.
Junior wonders about Luchino Visconti (assistant to Jean Renoir), and about Auguste Renoir's attraction to young girls in later years. The name of Mr Alien is heard in voice-over with an image of Sergei Eisenstein editing on his death-bed. Will Jr. is now in a hotel bedroom, looking at an album with images of Orson Welles, Vermeer's Girl with a pearl earring. Power and Virtue (inter-title)[n 7] Rembrandt's Saint Paul, Rubens' Young Woman Looking Down, Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son.[n 8] At the same time, in voice-over, Cordelia reads from Sonnet 47: and Lear - foreshadowing the last scene of the play - mourns the death of his daughter.
Seen at a restaurant table with yellow flowers, Will Jr. explains in voice-over that he is on duty for the Cannon Cultural Division:[n 9] and then there is NO THING (inter-title).[n 10] Everything had disappeared after the Chernobyl explosion.[n 11] Saturn Devouring His Son by Goya.[n 12] After a while everything came back: electricity, houses, cars—everything except culture and William Junior. Emerging from a reed bed, he explains (in voice-over) that—by special arrangement with the Cannon Cultural Division and the Royal Library of Her Majesty, the Queen[n 13] he was engaged to recover what had been lost, starting the works of his famous ancestor.
In the restaurant, Will Jr. (very noisily slurping his soup) overhears Cordelia talking with a waiter.[n 14] Learo interrupts, and Will Jr. realises that he is speaking lines from one of Shakespeare's lost plays. But Learo starts reminiscing about Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky, two Jewish mobsters in Las Vegas.[n 15] Lear reproves Cordelia for not having professed her love for him effusively enough, and says she will lose her inheritance ("You may mar your dollars"). Will Jr. goes to thank Cordelia ("my lady"), but Learo accuses him of "making a play for my girl", and silently leads her away. "Characters!"
- Still under construction
- William Shakespeare Junior and goblins in the woods in mime.[n 16]
- Will Jr. meets Edgar, "a man poorly dressed", and Virginia (who wasn't there).[n 17] Edgar says they are in Aubonne/Los Angeles.[n 18] Edgar learns about Pluggy, whose "research was moving in parallel lines to my own".[n 19]
- Learo and Cordelia in the hotel room. He dictates from Fried's book while she types. Telexes arrive from his other daughters. NO THING. Music speeds up.
- The goblins appear on the balcony, who Will Jr calls "Gods's spies"'.[n 20]
- Scene in the half-finished house belonging to Anne-Marie Miéville. Lear's shadow! Abracadbra! Sonnet 138. Lear and Cordelia by the river.
- Fire scene in the house/Plato's cave. Virginia ironing, perhaps Cordelia's nightgown? Discussion of colour. Red and yellow tulips.
- Cordelia in the hotel room with the maid ("A violent silence for silence of Cordelia...") and the goblins out of Breathless. Doré illustrations.[n 21]
- Will Jr. sitting on the rocks and getting soaked.
- Edgar and the film can in the river and the thieving goblins.
- Pluggy's editing studio. Dinosaurs?
Godard appears to have disguised one of the central aspects of his film so well that almost every writer who mentions it does so with a sense of bafflement and bewilderment: namely, the shots illuminated by a bare light bulb of toy plastic dinosaurs and other animals in a cardboard box. These shots are intercut with the montage sequence described above. At 00:48:18, we see a plastic red dinosaur and some other animals. Will Jr. asks, "What's it all for, Professor? Please?" And Pluggy replies, "The Last Judgement." Pluggy seems to be referring to the biblical passage in the Book of Revelation which describes the war in heaven. Lest we mistake the toy dinosaurs (Greek for 'huge lizards') in the box, a few moments later (00:48:34) Virginia (off-screen) cries "Snakes!" The French word for 'snake' is 'serpent', the old English and French name for dragon, and the German equivalent is 'Wurm'. Revelation, chapter 12 tells how the great red dragon is thrown down to earth, and v. 9 gives some of its names: dragon, serpent, devil, Satan. "Do not come between the dragon and his wrath," says Lear several times during the film.
One of the most famous cinematic dragons is perhaps the scene-stealing star of Part I of Die Nibelungen. The film featured in Histoire(s) du cinéma, Godard's next huge project after King Lear: "Short of fusing himself into the celluloid, Godard does what he can to immerse himself in cinema's promised immortality, bathing like Fritz Lang's Siegfried in the blood of the beast."
"The image is a pure creation of the soul..." (Pierre Reverdy)
In this highly compressed and cinematically meaningful sequence, Godard demonstrates the technique of montage, which allows a film-maker to bring two or more opposing realities into a new association. The scene takes place in in Professor Pluggy's cutting room (or editing suite). The images (starting from 00:49:04) are:
- Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665). Copy after a painting by her father Giovanni Andrea Sirani (1610-1670).[n 22]
- Unidentified image.
- Film clip of a female face in close-up.
- Giotto: The Mourning of Christ (detail). Fresco in the Scrovegni Chapel (Arena chapel), Padua.
- Film still of a notorious shot from Luis Buñuel's Un chien andalou.[n 23]
- Henry Fuseli: Lady Macbeth Sleepwalking[n 24]
- The front cover (detail) of Tex Avery by Patrick Brion, published in France in 1986 while King Lear was still in production. It shows a reversed still shot of the wolf from Tex Avery's 1949 cartoon Little Rural Riding Hood.[n 25]
- Unidentified painting of a young man kissing a reclining woman's neck.
- Still under construction
The shadowy figure standing beside the editing monitors lights a sparkler and turns out to be Edgar. Pluggy asks him if he has finished "our construction" yet. Edgar hands the sparkler ('cierge magique' in French, lit. 'magic candle') to Will Jr., and goes off to ask Virginia.
- Restaurant. Learo gets angry with Will Jr., while Cordelia buries her head in her hands. Shot of white horse. Will Jr. (off-screen) reads more Forrester. Cordelia with a sparkler. Learo talks about "God's spies".
- Screening room. Female journalist and Professor Kozintsev. Discussion of cinema. Plato's cave.
- Audio extract from Kozintsev's King Lear.[n 26]
- Re-make of the scene from Robert Bresson's 1962 film The Trial of Joan of Arc.
- Virginia Woolf's The Waves on the rocks.
- (Inter-titles): 'King Lear / A Clearing'. Express train sound. 'NO THING'. Clear, joyous birdsong. Easter bells. The first image. Winding back time to zero. J. S. Bach, St. Matthew Passion, opening chorus. Bells. Pluggy lying on the ground surrounded by flowers. "Now I understand that Pluggy's sacrifice was not in vain." "Now I understood through his work the words of St. Paul: 'The image will re-appear at the time of resurrection.'"[n 27]
- Death? of Will Junior (well, he looks dead). The empty film can which Edgar picked out of the river earlier. Edgar spools up film, possibly taken from Will Jr.? Edgar exits left, pursued by
a bearWill Jr. with an elephant gun.
- By the lake. All five main characters (Virginia, Edgar, Lear, Cordelia, and William Junior) together for the only time in the film. "The dawn of our first image" coinciding with shot of the horse.[n 28] Cordelia on the rocks, Learo with the gun, facing away from camera. Shot in the back, like many of Godard's images. How does Cordelia die? No shot is heard.[n 29]
- Mr. Alien's editing studio. Mr Alien stitches the film together with needle and thread. Shakespeare sonnet 60.[n 30] Shot of the white horse again in slo-mo. Lear's final lines read by Ruth Maleczech and recorded by Peter Sellers (along with David Warrilow) in Philip Glass's studio in New York. A STUDY (inter-title). Seagull squawk. End.
Shakespeare's original play is full of lines containing animal imagery. In King Lear Godard fills the soundtrack with a barrage of semi-identifiable animal noises: one of the most noticeable is the shrill and raucous call of a crow. This is a recurring sound in Godard's films, including Allemagne 90 neuf zéro and JLG/JLG. A detail of Wheatfield with Crows, one of Van Gogh’s very last paintings, appears towards the end of the film.[n 31] Discussing JLG/JLG, Nora M. Alter remarks: "Not only is the crow conspicuously absent on the screen, but its sounds are conspicuously disjunct, too loud to be part of the landscape. This sequence, sometimes with the muttering voice of the narrator superimposed, is repeated at irregular intervals[...] I want to suggest that, consistent with much of Godard's work, [this sequence] does not hierarchize the aural and the visual. On the contrary, it fuses the two together as a sound image, or rebus..."
In many of Godard's films, the aural and the visual are conceived to be perceived as one, a son+image (sound+picture). This a type of audio-visual collage made up of overlapping or repeated film clips, written or spoken poetry, philosophy, high and low literature, as well as paintings and visual citations, which function as a rebus. Godard's later films break the conventions that dialogue should generally be audible and meaningful, and progresses the plot. Although King Lear uses Dolby Stereo to good effect,[n 32] vision and sound often do not complement each other, with the effect of making viewers continually question what they are seeing or hearing.[n 33]
Although barely recognisable, much of the music is taken from Beethoven's last completed work, the String Quartet No. 16, Op. 135. Ever since Godard's 1963 short film Le Nouveau Monde, Beethoven's Grosse Fugue and final quartet had provided a lasting challenge to the moral compromises and the empty banalities of the moment. In King Lear, Godard slowed the music down and electronically manipulated it so that the only easily identifiable extract is from the second movement (in 3/4 time, from around from bar 120). At the very start of the film the music is heard playing at about half speed, but most of the time it is played back even slower as a low background dirge. The passage only reaches the proper pitch two or three times, with a swift accelerando at crucial moments of NO THING and then collapses again as swiftly: when Cordelia sinks down on the balcony with Learo uncomfortably close behind her (00:30:40), and when the goblins snatch the empty film can from Edgar's hands beside the river (00:46:50).
The opening chorus of J. S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion is heard during the reversed stop-motion sequence of "creating" the flowers (01:13:05), and at the death of Professor Pluggy (01:14:20), similarly slowed down.
- "From this I reach what I might call a philosophy ... that the whole world is a work of art. ... Hamlet, or a Beethoven quartet is the truth about this vast mass that we call the world. But there is no Shakespeare, there is no Beethoven; certainly and emphatically there is no God; we are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself."
Although Norman Mailer had written a complete script, Godard didn't use it. Mailer & his daughter, Kate Mailer, arrived in Nyon in September 1986 and did around three hours' shooting. He was paid $500,000. The scene with Woody Allen was shot at his editing suite in the Brill Building, Manhattan in January 1987, and the main part of the shoot took place in March 1987 in Nyon and Rolle, a few kilometers away. Godard had also accepted a contract to make some short commercial films for Closed, a brand of jeans by Marithé and François Girbaud. These commercial videos were shot in March 1987 at the same time as King Lear, and the same actors/models in the commercials also appear in the film as the goblins. The ads use similar locations and a similar montage technique, and the titles some of the jeans ads make the connections obvious: Tulipes, Fer a repasser (Ironing, lit. 'Smoothing iron') and King Lear.[n 34] One of the shots (the models/goblins climbing over the hotel balcony railing) is used in both the commercial and the main film of King Lear.
King Lear showed at the Cannes Festival on 17 May 1987, and after a brief two-week run in the US it did not appear in cinemas for another fifteen years. It was re-released in 2002 by a French distribution company, Bodega Films, but the company and Godard were sued by Viviane Forrester, the author of one of the literary quotations used in the film, for infringing her copyright. Godard and Bodega were both fined 5,000 euros and King Lear was withdrawn after two years. MGM released a DVD for the Italian market only, with wildly garbled subtitles which are often only a vague approximation of some of the lines and names mentioned in the film. The DVD seems to have been generally available since 2013, possibly after Roger Ebert's mention of it on his website.
The film has an approval rating of 50% on the ratings aggregator RottenTomatoes.com.
According to one perceptive user review on the site, "This is the best po-mo [post-modern], post-structuralist, graduate student film that I have ever seen.... A charming, funny, film that Herzog would appreciate as a documentary disguising itself as a film about Shakespeare."
Desson Howe of the Washington Post criticises Godard for inappropriately imposing his unique style on Shakespeare's work - "Where the playwright values clarity and poetry, Godard seems to go for obfuscation and banality. Shakespeare aims for universality, while Godard seeks to devalue everything." - whilst reserving praise for the editing and cinematography.
Also commenting in The Washington Post, Hal Hinson classifies the film as a "labored, not terribly funny practical joke", "infuriating, baffling, challenging and fascinating" in which Godard "trashes his own talent".
Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times, however, called it, "a work of certified genius", and Richard Brody, writing in the New Yorker, described it and Godard's In Praise of Love as "great films that are even more aesthetically radical than his earlier ones"; Brody has called the film his "favorite movie of all time."
The New York Times review by Vincent Canby compared it unfavourably to the rest of Godard's oeuvre as "tired, familiar and out of date", remarking that the few lines of Shakespeare delivered in the play overpower his dialogue, making it "seem much punier than need be". Nonetheless, Canby praises the acting as "remarkably good under terrible circumstances".
Canby also called the film "sad and embarrassing", quoted by Keith Harrison in the introduction his Bakhtinian Polyphony in Godard's King Lear, in which he cites the critical responses of Peter S. Donaldson, Alan Walworth and Anthony R. Guneratne for their sustained coherence of analysis of King Lear, and discusses the film in terms of Mikhail Bakhtin's interrelated concepts of dialogism, the carnivalesque, heteroglossia, the chronotope, co-authoring, polyglossia, inter-illumination, refraction, unfinalizability, and polyphony, to show that "Godard's autobiographical and densely fragmented re-creation of Shakespeare's King Lear is carefully shaped, meaningful, and, ultimately, compelling in its multi-voiced unity."
- Quentin Tarantino falsely claimed (in an early résumé at the start of his acting career) to have played a part in the film, on the basis that casting agents in Hollywood would be unfamiliar with the film.
- Godard uses this text in other films where he discusses montage, and also in Histoire(s) du cinéma, 2, Gallimard, 1998, p. 162.
- Godard gives this passage a slight détournement, substituting 'the world' for 'the object' of the original: "Je suis seul, semble dire l’objet, donc pris dans une nécessité contre laquelle vous ne pouvez rien. Si je ne suis que ce que je suis, je suis indestructible. Étant ce que je suis , et sans réserve, ma solitude connaît la vôtre."
- At the 1985 Cannes Festival, Godard had signed a contract (written on a napkin) with Golan to make 'King Lear' film, with a script by Norman Mailer, starring Woody Allen.
- Mailer had already written such a script for the film.
- This time, with Godard in voice-over commenting on the abortive start to shooting in Nyon in September 1986, when Mailer left the production.
- Learo, voice-over: "Peace, Mr Shakespeare", and the sound of a cinema chair being tipped up. This foreshadows the scene in the cinema/screening room with the extract of Kozintsev's King Lear.
- Like the music (Beethoven, Op. 135), and other paintings in this film, (Goya, van Gogh) this was one the artist's last works. The parable, from Luke 15:11-32 is often read as a lesson in church services on the third Sunday of Lent (leading up to Easter). There are several other allusions to Easter, death and resurrection in King Lear.§
- Cannon Films were well-known in the 1980s for Michael Winner's Death Wish sequels II—4 with Charles Bronson, and for Chuck Norris action pictures such as The Delta Force, etc., etc. Cannon also produced Andrei Konchalovsky's Runaway Train (1985), Franco Zeffirelli’s Otello of 1986, and Norman Mailer's Tough Guys Don't Dance, which had a disastrous reception at the 1987 Cannes Festival and went on general release three days after King Lear in September 1897.
- One of Godard's recurring themes is a return to zero, explored in - for example - Le gai savoir  and Sauve qui peut (la vie)
- This took place on 26 April 1986, while King Lear was still in preparation.
- This is one of his so-called Black Paintings painted at the end of his life.
- If you are a monarchist you lose, because the (unspecified) queen's library is full of books full of words, and Godard's/Pluggy's library is full of images, and you are watching his film, and not reading one of her books. Q.E.D.
- (the only time words French is spoken in the film)
- Godard incorporates in King Lear a number of ideas for an unmade film about the Mafia called The Story.
- A tableau vivant, from Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr..
- Virginia Woolf as the narrator of The Waves, 'isn't there', like a film director 'isn't there' - but they later both appear in person in the scene in the half-finished house.
- There may be some metonymy going on here, by which Aubonne (a small town not far from Nyon) stands for Hollywood.
- Will Jr. is trying to recreate Shakespeare's play with words for the queen's library, whereas Pluggy is trying to recreate the play for his own 'library', which contains images. From the first scene in the house (00:34:57):
- Will Jr.: I understand you've been working on this problem here, Doctor?
- Pluggy: Well, nobody writes. The writing's derivative. Oh, recover is what I'm looking for. If that - if that makes sense.
- See Wilt 1993 for a perceptive discussion of Woolf's 'onto-theology' and some parallels with King Lear. Wilt explains the complex concept of 'God's spies' thus:
- "Shakespeare's haunting and enigmatic phrase points surely to a way and type of knowing which is both transcendent and some how illicit, invasive. As God's spies, God's eyes, the father and daughter will "criminally" see the things the world hides, the mystery of things, the Mystery, the space occupied (perhaps) by God. To "take on" the Mystery is both to shoulder it, to disguise oneself in/as it, and to confront or even fight it. The intent is both to critique an aspect of religious thought and organization (they will wear out not only "packs" but also "sects" of great ones) and to embark on the religious quest oneself, somehow bearing the Mystery one hopes to spy out. The goal or grail of this quest, for these spies, is to see "through" the world (in both senses of the phrase) to the Mystery that lies below or behind the ebb and flow, and to do this by wearing (wearing out?) the world.Wilt 1993, p. 180
- Doré's images could well fall under the umbrella of some insufficently-defined 'art': but they are most definitely not 'culture' (which Will Jr. has been specifically sent to retrieve): and thus Doré's illustrations survive after Chernobyl as the epitome of all that is derivative and unoriginal.
- There are at least five works by the Siranis dealing with this subject:
- Painting by Giovanni Sirani
- Etching by Giovanni Sirani
- Two similar paintings by Elisabetta Sirani. One of these (the one Godard uses) has a similar composition to the etching by her father: the other has the sword pointing the other way.
- An entirely different painting by Elisabetta: Judith with the Head of Holofernes.
- Buñuel died in 1983. A Francophone punster/joueur de mots might notice a homophone with 'ondes-loup', or 'waves-wo[o]lf'. See also Michel Leiris (1939) Glossaire, j'y serre mes gloses. Paris: Éditions de la Galerie Simon (impr. de G. Girard).
- Fuseli was Swiss (like Godard). He painted a series of scenes from Shakespeare.
- (And not Goofy, as many have erroneously thought.) The still is taken from the cabaret sequence where the wolf's eyes pop out on vast stalks at the sight of the red-caped singer.
- This is from Act IV, scene 7 ("Be your tears wet? Yes, faith. I pray weep not." / "Что это, слезы, на твоих щеках? Дай я потрогаю. Да, это слезы. Не плачь!") and not from Act 1, as is widely believed.
- NB Apparently non-existent words of St. Paul; or at least, they don't appear in 1 Corinthians 15 vv. 12-13, 21, or 42, and apparently nowhere else either.
- Not unike Eadweard Muybridge's early stop-motion photographs
- In Shakespeare's play she dies on the Duke of Cornwall's orders, and certainly not Lear's. Does Godard's Cordelia even die? Maybe she becomes the horse.
- Woolf herself had sonnet 60 in mind when she was revising the introductions to the monologues which separate the sections of The Waves.
- According to the art historian Robert Rosenblum, van Gogh saw crows as a symbol of death and rebirth, or of resurrection. The painting is a projection "of a terrible isolation, in which the extremities of a space that stretches swiftly from foreground to an almost unattainable horizon, are charged with such power that the artist, and hence the spectator, feels humbled and finally paralyzed before the forces of nature."
- "Having been fortunate enough to have seen King Lear at film festivals in Toronto and Rotterdam, I can testify that it has the most remarkable use of Dolby sound I have ever heard in a film.
- Commenting on Godard’s latest offering at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Jonathan Rosenbaum remarked: "The frantic babble of the instant appraisals of Film Socialisme that have been tumbling out of Cannes this week — none of which has struck me as being very coherent or convincing, regardless of whether they’re pro or con — remind me once again of how long Godard has been in the business of confounding his audience."
- The soundtrack of the latter advertisement also uses a typical multi-layered audio montage, and when de-constructed with a simple Caulostomy, reveals Pierre Reverdy's text overlaid with a passage from chapter 8 of Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, written in Sweden in 1904.
- Lui: " L'Image est une création pure de l'esprit. Elle ne peut naître d'une comparaison mais du rapprochement de deux réalités plus ou moins éloignées [...] Une image n'est pas forte parce qu'elle est brutale ou fantastique — mais parce que l'association des idées est lointaine et juste."
- Him: "The image is a pure creation of the soul. It cannot be born of a comparison, but of a reconciliation of two realities that are more or less far apart. [...] An image is not strong because it is brutal or fantastic, but because the association of ideas is distant, and true."
- Elle: "Tous les dragons de notre vie sont peut-être les princesses qui attendent de nous voir beaux et courageux. Toutes les choses terrifiantes ne sont peut-être que des choses sans secours, et attendent que nous les secourions." NB Which is not the most accurate translation of:
- "...vielleicht sind alle Drachen unseres Lebens Prinzessinnen, die nur darauf warten, uns einmal schön und mutig zu sehen. Vielleicht ist alles Schreckliche im tiefsten Grunde das Hilflose, das von uns Hilfe will." (Rilke 1929, p. 14), thus:
- Her: "Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting for us, to see us handsome and courageous once again. Perhaps everything terrifying is at the deepest level a helpless thing, that wants our help."
- Lui: " L'Image est une création pure de l'esprit. Elle ne peut naître d'une comparaison mais du rapprochement de deux réalités plus ou moins éloignées [...] Une image n'est pas forte parce qu'elle est brutale ou fantastique — mais parce que l'association des idées est lointaine et juste."
- "King Lear (1988) - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved June 16, 2016.
- Sterritt 1999, p. 24.
- Sterritt 1999, p. 20.
- "Quentin Tarantino Archives". tarantino.info. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
- Quentin Tarantino; Gerald Peary (1998). Quentin Tarantino: Interviews. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-57806-051-1.
- Diniz 2002, p. 201.
- "Jean Genet, "L'Atelier d'Alberto Giacometti" (in French). calmeblog. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
- Brody 2008, p. 492.
- Brody 2008, p. 494.
- Brody 2008, p. 495.
- Young Woman Looking Down, (Study for the Head of Saint Apollonia), early 1628. Artnet.com. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- Morrey 2005, p. 85.
- Sterritt 1999, pp. 260-262.
- Harcourt, Peter (1981). (Winter, 1981-1982). "Le Nouveau Godard: An Exploration of "Sauve qui peut (la vie)"". Film Quarterly. 35 (2): 17–19. doi:10.2307/1212046. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- Rosenbaum 1988.
- That 20-minute moment.
- cf. "My father, poorly led?" from Act IV, scene 1.
- cf Closed Jeans commercials with the same actors/models, texts by Reverdy and Rilke (born 4 December, like Claude Renoir; Godard and Nino Rota born 3 December; Fritz Lang and Walt Disney, 5 December).
- Brody 2008, p. 499.
- cf Girbaud Closed commercial
- Morrey 2005, pp. 171, 172.
- Murray 2000, p. 173.
- Keser, Robert (1 May 2006). "The Misery and Splendors of Cinema: Godard's 'Moments Choisis des Histoire(s) du Cinéma'". BrightLights Film Journal. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
- Chiesi 2004, pp. 6.
- Wilt 1993.
- Pasternak 2017, p. 444.
- See also Passion which is full of tableaux vivants of paintings.
- Ebert, Roger (28 June 2011). "Woody Allen meets Jean-Luc Godard". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
- Briggs 2006, p. 454.
- MacCabe 2016, p. 330.
- Rosenblum 1975, pp. 98, 100.
- Alter 2000, p. 75.
- Alter 2000, p. 84.
- Sterritt 1999, pp. 29-21.
- Brody 2008, p. 150.
- Brody 2008, p. 501.
- Wilt 1993, p. 179.
- Brody 2008, p. 498.
- Chiesi 2004, p. 112.
- Chiesi 2004, p. 111.
- Brody 2008, p. 506.
- Le Monde des Livres (in French), 11 June 2004, p. v.
- King Lear at RottenTomatoes.com
- User reviews: 'Mary C'. RottenTomatoes.com. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- "King Lear" review by Desson Howe, published in the Washington Post 17-06-88, retrieved 13-08-08
- "King Lear" review by Hal Hinson, published in the Washington Post 18-06-88, retrieved 13-08-08
- "Auteur Wars: Godard, Truffaut, and the Birth of the New Wave," by Richard Brody, published in the New Yorker 07-04-08
- "What Would Have Saved 'Saving Mr. Banks'" by Richard Brody.
- "Godard in His Mafia 'King Lear'" by Vincent Canby, published in the New York Times 22-01-88, retrieved 13-08-08.
- Harrison, Keith (September 2016). "Bakhtinian Polyphony in Godard's King Lear". Mosaic. Winnipeg. Retrieved 20 January 2017. NB hefty subscription needed
- Alter, Nora M. (2000). Project Muse.. "Mourning, Sound, and Vision: Jean-Luc Godard's JLG/JLG" (PDF). Camera Obscura, 44. Duke University Press. 15 (2).
- Briggs, Julia (2006). Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life. Penguin UK. ISBN 9780141905495.
- Brody, Richard (2008). Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard. Macmillan. ISBN 9781429924313.
- Chiesi, Roberto (2004). Jean-Luc Godard. Grands cinéastes de notre temps (in French). Translated by Martine Capdevielle (Italian original). Rome: Gremese Editore. ISBN 9788873015840.
- Diniz, Thaïs Flores Nogueira (2002). "Godard: A Contemporary King Lear". In Resende, Aimara da Cunha; Burns, Thomas LaBorie. Foreign Accents: Brazilian Readings of Shakespeare. University of Delaware Press. ISBN 9780874137538.
- Furness, Horace Howard (1880). King Lear. A New Variorium Edition of Shakespeare, Vol. 5 (4th ed.). Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott.
- MacCabe, Colin (2016). Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at Seventy. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781408847138.
- Morrey, Douglas (2005). Jean-Luc Godard. French Film Directors. Manchester University Press. ISBN 9780719067594.
- Murray, Timothy (2000). "The Crisis of Cinema in the Age of New World Memory: The Baroque performance of 'King Lear'". In Temple, Michael; Williams, James S. The Cinema Alone: Essays on the Work of Jean-Luc Godard, 1985-2000. Film Culture in Transition, Volume 11. Amsterdam University Press. ISBN 9789053564561.
- Pasternak, Boris (2017). Korol Lir (Корол Лир) (in Russian). . Litres. ISBN 9785457270251.
- Rilke, Rainer Maria (1929). Briefe an einen jungen Dichter (PDF) (in German). Leipzig: Insel Verlag. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- Rosenbaum, Jonathan (8 April 1988). "The Importance of Being Perverse (Godard's 'King Lear')". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- Rosenblum, Robert (1975). Modern Painting and the Northern Romantic Tradition: Friedrich to Rothko. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0064300579.
- Sterritt, David (1999). The Films of Jean-Luc Godard: Seeing the Invisible. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521589711.
- Wilt, Judith (April 1993). "God's spies: the knower in 'The Waves'". The Journal of English and Germanic Philology. University of Illinois Press. 92 (2). JSTOR 27710806.