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Tragedy of King Lear - Film Review

Essay by   •  June 5, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,667 Words (7 Pages)  •  2,133 Views

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"O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars are in the poorest thing superfluous. Allow not nature more than nature needs". This quote can be considered to be the foundation of the film "Tragedy of King Lear" directed by Richard Eyre in 1998 where it relates to one of the major themes, nature. It clearly explains that a complexity of that notion is that humans would be no different from the animals if they did not need more than the necessities of life to be happy. From the film, the storm scene can be seen to bring about an abrupt change to create the climax of the story where insanity, madness and blindness reach its peak. Through the themes in this scene, it can relate to the entire film itself where nature plays an important role in conveying these ideas through the use of camera techniques, symbolism, characterisation, quotes, emotions and behaviours of characters.

The storm scene begins with a lightning strike instantly symbolising pathetic fallacy where the weather is used to reflect the mind of the protagonist, King Lear. We see Lear and the Fool lying in the mud with a strobe light like effect creating black divisions in the film when the thunder strikes and creates a blurry effect, focusing on the painful feelings of Lear. The use of Eyre's fast cut editing, represents the chaos in Lear's mind where his emotions are as violent as the storm which removes Lear's act of kindness towards the Fool. as he never gets Lear's kind of love of clothing or shelter. This setting also consists of rain and steam where Eyre allows the audience to establish the fear, confusion and bleakness of Lear's mental statement while the blurry focus distorts his figure. Psychoanalytically, when Lear raises his hands up to the sky symbolising a god like figure, it clearly conveys the insanity and madness of Lear of not wanting to discuss about his daughters as they were the ones who made him suffer these consequences when he initially stormed out of the castle. Eyre's choice of a close up shot of Lear when he's talking about his daughters and descending into madness instead of a long shot allows the audience to be directly involved in the situation. Psychoanalytically, when Lear cries "Blow winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!", he rages as the storm does, becoming wilder and wilder which vividly portrays both the mental and physical emotions that are overpowering him.

The amount of exclamation marks contained in Lear's three speeches indicates how agitated he has become. It reflects the properties of the storm as his speeches are full of anger and suffering where he talks about violent images of "high engendered battles" and "unwhipped of justice". However, without interaction with his two most loyal friends, Kent and the Fool, it illustrates how isolated Lear has become in his insanity.

When the Gentlemen enters the scene, he describes the storm in terms of how it "tears Lear's white hair" demonstrating that nature is more powerful than even the strongest of men. He continues to describe how Lear "Strives in his little world of man to out-storm the to-and-fro conflicting wind and rain". This quote could be applied to humanity's attempts to control nature or Lear's personal struggle with the elements.

When Kent enters in disguise, Lear ends up hugging him where he is at a lower level than Kent which suggests Lear having less power. The use of a long shot shows them facing towards the right. From Eyre's perspective, he is able to demonstrate how both characters are looking towards the future through the technique of time. They are positioned towards the right of the screen with the storm taking up all the space from the left. The use of time suggests that Lear wants to leave the past behind him and focus on the future in an attempt to amend his situation with his daughters which would end his madness and insanity.

As Lear, Kent and the Fool exit the first half of the scene, all walking in a line, it conveys they are all in the same situation and have a bond they all share. At the same time, the camera is behind them reflecting their point of view which then cuts to the parallel scene. From Eyre's perspective of choosing to cut to the parallel scene, it creates a cliff hanger for the audience which makes them anxious to find out where their heading to.

Returning to the storm scene, Kent is encouraging Lear to enter the hut however, Lear refuses. This is because in the storm he can scream to release his anger over his daughter's mistreatment of him but when he settles down he will realise his insanity and that part of him will have some guilt in the matter. "I am a man more sinned against than sinning". Psychoanalytically, Lear is afraid of admitting what he did was wrong and that his behaviour was childish for storming out of the castle. Eventually, he



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