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CONTEMPT

Director: JEAN-LUC GODARD

FRANCE-ITALY • 1963 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • 35MM • 101 MIN


One of Jean-Luc Godard’s more commercial undertakings, Le mepris was ostensibly a vehicle for Brigitte Bardot, lavishly shot in colour and wide-screen at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios and on the island of Capri. It works as both a film about filmmaking and as a study of the breakdown of a relationship. Scriptwriter Paul (Michel Piccoli) has been hired by a crassly pretentious American producer (Jack Palance) to work on a film version of Homer’s Odyssey, which is to star his beautiful wife Camille (Bardot) and be directed by the legendary Fritz Lang. There’s a clash between producer and director about what kind of film to make. Paul is caught in the middle and his indecisiveness is one reason why Camille comes to regard him with contempt. Godard draws parallels between Homer’s tale of Odysseus and Penelope, and the predicament of Paul and Camille as he captures the dissolution of a marriage amidst the chaos of a film shoot and against a backdrop of stunning physical beauty. Critic Colin McCabe considers Le mepris to be ‘the greatest work of art produced in post-war Europe’.

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