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Jean-Luc Godard, King Lear

Jean-Luc Godard’s new film, King Lear, 1987, is first and foremost an “approach,” as its intertitles frequently remind us. At one point, in the guise of a shaman/professor, the director says, “An image is not strong because it is brutal or fantastic, but because it is distant and true.” Thus, the aim of the film, like most of Godard’s work, is to approximate the subject/text rather than to limit it. The intertitles, the sketchiness, the home-movie quality, the deliberately fractured narrative of King Lear are linked to a persistent esthetic. Like Two or Three Things That I Know About Her, 1966, Le Gai Savoir, 1968, or Vladimir and Rosa, 1970, it is constructed along the lines of an essay that foregrounds the process of viewing a film. Conceived in this manner, these films include both hits and misses, true and false starts.

Thus, King Lear opens with a failed sequence featuring Norman Mailer

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