Contempt (1963), “Le mépris” (original title)

Camille Javal: You like all of me? My mouth? My eyes? My nose? And my ears?

Paul Javal: Yes, all of you.

Camille Javal: Then you love me… totally?

Paul Javal: Yes. Totally… tenderly… tragically.

Contempt (French: Le Mépris) is a 1963 French satirical drama film written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, based on the Italian novel A Ghost at Noon by Alberto Moravia. It stars Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance, and Giorgia Moll.

Today, Contempt is generally regarded as a masterpiece of world cinema.

Rating 7.8 in IMDB

Watch the Trailer (just click)

lemeprisPLOT:

American film producer Jeremy Prokosch (Jack Palance) hires respected Austrian director Fritz Lang (playing himself) to direct a film adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey. Dissatisfied with Lang’s treatment of the material as an art film, Prokosch hires Paul Javal (Michel Piccoli), a novelist and playwright, to rework the script. The conflict between artistic expression and commercial opportunity parallels Paul’s sudden estrangement from his wife Camille Javal (Brigitte Bardot), who becomes aloof with Paul after he leaves her alone with Prokosch, a millionaire playboy.

While founded on Alberto Moravia’s story of the progressive estrangement between a husband and wife, Godard’s version also contains deliberate parallels with aspects of his own life: while Paul, Camille, and Prokosch correspond to Ulysses, Penelope, and Poseidon, respectively, they also correspond in some ways with Godard, his wife Anna Karina (his choice of female lead), and Joseph E. Levine, the film’s distributor. At one point Bardot dons a black wig, which gives her a resemblance to Karina. Michel Piccoli also bears some resemblance to Brigitte Bardot’s ex-husband, the filmmaker Roger Vadim.

Also notable in the film is a discussion of Dante – particularly Canto XXVI of Inferno, about Odysseus’ last fatal voyage beyond the Pillars of Hercules to the other side of the world – and Friedrich Hölderlin’s poem, “Dichterberuf” (“The Poet’s Vocation”).

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