King Lear (1987)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

King Lear Photos

Movie Info

Two highly talented and innovative directors-filmdom's Jean-Luc Godard and the theatre world's Peter Sellars - join forces in this unusual (to say the least) slant on Shakespeare's King Lear. The Bard's tale of an aging monarch destroyed by false flattery and foolish pride is conveyed with offbeat lighting and sound effects, rendering the text virtually expendable. Even Godard's most fervent followers were at a loss to explain some of their idol's creative choices in this 91-minute absurdist exercise. Chances are, however, that you'll stick through it, rough going though it is in spots. After all, how many other Shakespearean adaptations can boast a cast that includes Burgess Meredith, Molly Ringwald, Woody Allen and Norman Mailer?
Rating:
PG
Genre:
Art House & International , Drama , Science Fiction & Fantasy , Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
Runtime:
Studio:
Cannon Group

Cast

Molly Ringwald
as Cordelia
Woody Allen
as Mr. Alien
Jean-Luc Godard
as Professor
Leos Carax
as Edgar
Burgess Meredith
as Don Learo
Peter Sellars
as William Shakespeare Jr., the Fifth
Norman Mailer
as Himself
Kate Mailer
as Herself
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for King Lear

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (3)

Behind this is Godard's inability to resolve an essential contradiction in his work -- his reverence for ideas and theories and all sorts of philosophical speculation, and his utter disregard for a sustained, coherent presentation of them.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

Cinematographer Sophie Mantigneux creates crisp, memorable images and Godard masterfully edits them together (whether the final result is worth the effort is subject to question).

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

Shakespeare through the Godard meat-grinder.

November 29, 2012
Film Threat

A challenge, as with all Godard, but not quite his most rewarding one.

Full Review… | August 29, 2006
TV Guide

Quote not available.

Full Review… | March 31, 2006
Raging Bull Movie Reviews

Quote not available.

December 8, 2004
EmanuelLevy.Com

Audience Reviews for King Lear

I originally gave this 4 stars. Um, really? Admittedly it was well over 10 years ago I last saw this. I wonder if I actually understood it back then, because I sure don't now... I see this as more art piece than movie. It is virtually incomprehensible, and just so much happening. Choppy. There's a blethering old guy with such an irritating voice you just want him to shut up, let alone take in any of his ramblings. There are some nice shots and eerie music. And seagull sounds. There's some lovely outdoor shots and some 80's fashions. I'm not sure what's up with the models running around the countryside. There is Molly Ringwald - let's face it, the reason I bought this. (Don't buy it for Molly Ringwald. She's great and I could feel the depression of her character, but she's great in better movies than this one). I can't totally pan this, because it's interesting. There's parts that make me want to like it. But I'm not at all sure that's actually what the director wants here.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

½

Behind this is Godard's inability to resolve an essential contradiction in his work -- his reverence for ideas and theories and all sorts of philosophical speculation, and his utter disregard for a sustained, coherent presentation of them.

Greg Wood
Greg Wood

This is the best po-mo, post-structuralist, graduate student film that I have ever seen. In the midst of trying so hard to fulfill her role, Molly Ringwald silently expresses total befuddlement as to what the film is about. Running out of funding during shooting, Godard perseveres with a kitchen collander and fishing lures to bring us a true slice of great art at the end of the 20th century. A charming, funny, film that Herzog would appreciate as a documentary disguising itself as a film about Shakespeare.

Mary Green
Mary Green

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