Jean-Luc Godard, Peter Sellars, Burgess Meredith, Molly Ringwald,
Jean-Luc Godard’s King Lear, predictably, is not a costume drama set in pre-Christian England. Instead, we follow William Shakespeare V (Peter Sellars) as he wanders through a post-Chernobyl world, “a time when movies and art no longer exist and must be reinvented,” trying to reconstruct his ancestor’s play, aided and abetted by Herr Doktor Professor Pluggy, played by Godard himself. The film oscillates between telling the story of its own production and reconstructing Lear as a Mafia chieftain engaged in interminable rows with his daughters in interminable hotel rooms. Brilliant, witty, infuriating, the film testifies, yet again, to Godard’s astonishing engagement with sound and image—and, despite all his own protestations, to an engagement with Shakespeare’s text.
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