Monday, December 22, 2014

Power vs Virtue

King Lear (1987) - Godard
 photo 9fd719b0-83cc-48d6-bb3e-2b3d64e8c331_zps2bba7729.png
 photo 99759c5d-3d58-4c92-994c-edd53f07b016_zps1b8c586d.png
 photo 9f79246e-6964-467d-b682-c0b4c6682e9c_zps9bdd9a4e.png
 photo 686cdfe1-ce9c-4f3f-8827-667224e66e11_zps7e708b92.png
 photo d8b3d271-2235-4779-a222-f1226afea731_zpsb7cadf73.png
 photo 2cbd65c5-7ed9-44e4-bb12-e499e41267ba_zps314a33f0.png
 photo 89e55f5b-ea70-4bc8-abcb-98f5a45ade97_zpsf5658702.png
 photo 5c641890-c48d-41be-8e9c-37bf45ffe457_zps660fbb80.png
 photo cf8792dd-43bc-4b82-90a4-3f3751a765ef_zps9a480fc5.png
 photo 1c6d870d-703b-460e-9e2d-21e7828df081_zpsa57c9049.png
 photo e03f86b2-a638-4de0-b123-972a8291d8a0_zpsd1752fe4.png
"Instead of King Lear having three daughters, Cordelia has three fathers - a writer, writer playing the role of the writer and myself, the director" quips Godard in a gravelly voice. The writer in this case is Norman Mailer. He says he can only do King Lear as a gangster film. Thus Lear becomes Don Learo. Learo is sniveling Burgess Meredith and Cordelia is Molly Ringwald. The setting is Nyon, a lakeside Swiss town. Chernobyl happened and wiped out the whole civilization. Movies and art are lost. The 'image' needs to be reinvented. A Shakespeare's descendent (theater director Peter Sellars), is trying to rediscover all the great plays of his ancestor and he finds an inspiration from the old man (Meredith) and his young daughter (Ringwald). In the meantime Prof. Pluggy (videowire dreadlocked Godard, gruffing in English from the side of his mouth and sounds like as if Meredith had a stroke, plays basically a cultural shaman) with his young minions, Edgar (Leos Carax) and Virginia (Julie Delpy), is trying to create the image with the help of sound (multiple voiceovers, waves, seagulls overlapping and interrupting dialog). Sound is important because it relates to the silence of Cordelia. There is a parallel rediscovering 'movie' and 'art'.

Godard juxtaposes old men's penchant for young beautiful girls, from Renoir the painter to Renoir the director with King Lear, the powerful, dying, demented and Cordelia, the young, virtuous but untender and a bloody bedsheet, suggesting incest (hence the appearance of Woody Allen at the end or pure coincidence?). The words are cheap and Cordelia doesn't wear her heart on her tongue. He also comments on the doomsday scenarios (Chernobyl just a year before) and dominant video technology vs film - there is a scene where a reel of film discarded in the forest being rescued by Carax. It's less cinematic and messier than his other 80s films and a little jarring to hear everyone speaking English in this Godard's first and only English feature, but his playfulness is there and the choice of 80s teenqueen Ringwald as Cordelia makes a lot of sense here.