A film programmatically suspicious of names, Jean-Luc Godard's King Lear nonetheless claims the title of a Shakespeare play and endows the playwright with an unhistorical male descendant, William Shakespeare Jr., the Fifth. Godard's film is a modernized, fragmented, constantly selfinterrupting work, only part of which-a fraction of the dialogue and the subplot involving "Don Learo," a retired Mafia chief and his daughter, Cordelia-derives from Shakespeare's text. There is no Edmund in this free adaptation, but the film itself takes on aspects of his character, asserting filial rights despite illegitimacy, by turns denying paternity and appropriating the riches of the paternal text. Godard's King Lear is like Edgar too: trifling with despair, toying with madness, disguising itself, enacting redemption in burlesque, cognizant of its diminishment, deeply injured, quirkily loyal. It is a distant and debased copy of its model but, like Gloucester's devalued son, sometimes establishes
sudden, intimate connection to its parent while dissembling its filial relationship.