Bakhtinian Polyphony in Godard’s King Lear
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This chapter brings Bakhtin’s theories to bear on a film sometimes dismissed as incoherent. Along with presenting a traditional argument, this chapter experimentally embodies the fragmented shape of Godard’s film. The figures of the rogue and the clown help to explicate how meaning emerges from Godard’s dialogism not only with Shakespeare but also with Orson Welles, Bertolt Brecht, Norman Mailer, Jan Kott, Grigori Kozintsev, and Woody Allen. Perhaps most intriguing is the dialogic voice of Virginia Woolf, whose words enable Godard’s feminist self-voicing. In this retelling of King Lear, the filmmaker offers a piecemeal, cryptic autobiography, and a polyphonic recounting of male violence.