It has been said that King Lear
is one of Shakespeare’s
plays. It has also been said that Shakespeare’s plays are meant to be performed
, not read. After reading the text of King Lear
I now understand why it is important to also see the play being performed rather than just reading it.
Goneril and Regan constantly disrespect their father. They talk back to him, mistreat him, disrespect his messenger, and then run him out into a fierce stormwhere he could have died. They lied to him and contributed to their father going mad. King Lear is dressed in robes in the beginning, but at the end of the story, he is half-naked braving the harshness of the storm. It is in the storm where he learns truth. He has no wealth, but he has truth, and love when Cordelia comes back for him.
So from the very beginning of the play we have many different things happening all at once. To understand what is happening you must remember the characters names, their relationships with everyone else and what their problem is. This can be very difficult when two characters are trying to express the same emotions at the same time. When this happens it is very complicated to remember which character in the play is doing what.
The play does involve a lot of imagery and you must read deeper than the surface to understand just how much imagery is introduced to us in King Lear. For instance, right from the very start of the play we notice that Lear refers to many people in his kingdom as animals, especially his two eldest daughters.eg Lear says that he has “Pelican daughters” (page 52).
There is also imagery of diseases in which Kent regards Goneril and Regan as,” A plague upon your epileptic visage.” (Page 37)
So although there is plenty of imagery created to the reader through the words written, the film sets more scenes and imagesto the reader than the book. For example, In the storm Lear is stripped of the clothing that "protected" him and he becomes "naked"to the world. In the storm Gloucester calls Lear "the naked fellow. " By seeing the film it is easier to understand the significant change in King Lears outfits and the way he dresses. We can see that the King is more like a servant, shabby, dirty, soiled, filthy and grubby. The book is unable to provide as much imagery as the movie can when it comes to the changes in King Lear’s dress. The film helps you to appreciate the level of madness that King Lear is at.
The storm is also based on the level of king Lear’s anger. While reading the novel we discover that things are wrong and we know there is a storm happening. However, we are not constantly reminded of this fact and therefore often forget the main reason everyone is fighting. Through the movie’s scenes and camera shots we are constantly seeing the darkness that the storm has bought with it. The camera shots allow the viewer to see the characters unwind and develop within the kings anger. We are reminded by the soaking clothes people are walking around in, and of the muddy fields that the King is travelling across of how much damage the storm is doing to the fields. While everyone is talking and moaning to each other we hear the constant unstoppable growl of rolling thunder that is dancing with the king’s mood.
The acting from the characters helps the reader to grasp and understand what the character is feeling, thinking and seeing. The costumes have a significant roll. The movie makes everything look dull, dark, wet and tiring. Near the [battle we find that Goneril and Regan both have coats on. This helps the viewer to understand that the weather is still cold and stormy.
The set design throughout the film helps the viewer to understand at which point the play is at. The different scenes and backgrounds help to make the characters less confusing. The battle scene was particularly interesting how there were torches lit around the place. This helped the scenes to be much more dramatic and helped the fight come alive to the watching eye.
Overall, the film helps the play come to life with the different scene shots, moods, set designs, sound effects, costumes and acting. It makes the play so much more exciting as the viewer can get a better understanding of what is happening.