“But Cordelia is not mute. It’s not that she hasn’t said anything. She has said nothing. No thing. Everything that conspires and organizes itself around her silence, that wants to silence her silence, this produces violence.”
In the past weeks secondary reading, “Beginning to theorize adaptation” Hutcheon gives credit to Robert Stam when he writes, ”Adaptation might be the product of thwarted expectations on the part of a fan desiring fidelity with a beloved adapted text.” I find this quote to be remarkably true regarding my thoughts after I viewed the film adaptation of Godard’s version of King Lear.
Throughout reading King Lear, I absolutely enjoyed the text and readings. I did not think of it as too much of a chore to read the acts and found myself getting deeper and deeper into the plot and characters with ease. The moving parts of the villainous Edmund attempting to avenge his bastardly heritage, the betrayal of Regan and Goneril on Lear, and the tragic death of the pure Cordelia showed the true great art that Shakespeare had for creating and telling tales. Shakespeare’s creation was overflowing with admirable themes, plot, motifs and character evolvement that it left me as a reader to be more than satisfied after reading the text.
So, after viewing the film adaptation of King Lear by Godard, I felt utterly confused and saddened. As Zoey Baldwin writes, “Many lines are uttered in the film, sometimes simultaneously, often behind unmatching images. Lear’s “You must bear with me, I am old and foolish” (Act IV, sc. vii).” The random bits of dialogue from the true King Lear are mixed with Shakespearean Sonnets that easily confuse the audience and layout of the film. I felt that the entire plot and story of Edmund/Gloucester/Edgar was left out, and the lack of involvement of Goneril and Regan took away vital depth of one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy. My insightful fool was nowhere to be found. There were gaping holes in Godard’s film adaptation to the tale of King Lear that I questioned if he even fully read the tale that I had come to very much like.
However, the film did cover the importance of the relationship between Learo and Cordelia. and intensely focused its lens on Cordelia’s silence. “But Cordelia is not mute. It’s not that she hasn’t said anything. She has said nothing. No thing. Everything that conspires and organizes itself around her silence, that wants to silence her silence, this produces violence.” I think that Godard does get this repetitive scene spot on; previously, I had not thought of Cordelia’s act of silence as a violent act, but more as an act of civil disobedience. Godard repeats this quote multiple times and forces the audience to fully understand the significance and backlash of Cordelia’s silence.
Did Godard adequately portray the tale of King Lear? Or, is his interpretation of the tragedy, while different, still artfully credible in its own way?
Zoey Baldwin Link: http://bardbrawl.com/2013/03/03/king-lear-1987-jean-luc-godard-director/