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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

Chapter 12 - Looking for Lear in The Eye of the Storm

from Part IV - Lear on the Loose: Migrations and Appropriations of Lear


The Australian film The Eye of the Storm (2011), directed by Fred Schepisi, enters into complex intertextual dialogues with both the novel that it adapts, Patrick White’s The Eye of the Storm (1973), and Shakespeare’s King Lear. This chapter explores the ‘Learness’ of Schepisi’s film, and the oscillating effect of both parallels and key departures. With a female Lear as the central protagonist, the film is part of an intriguing history of adaptations or appropriations that have explored gender in Lear. The Eye of the Storm also raises questions of postcoloniality and national identity. Furthermore, the film explores ideas of the harsh Australian landscape, the narrative culminating in a tropical storm that relocates the heath of Lear to northern Queensland. The film invites a range of questions on what appropriating Lear can mean in contemporary film, and how it can articulate suffering, complex relationships and the human condition. In this process, the medium of film itself plays a key role and the chapter considers the ways in which the medium itself, and filmic choices such as screen composition, camera angles, point of view and mise-en-scène, facilitate our engagement with the key characters, the concept of ‘Learness’ and the theme of human suffering.