IMDb > Contempt (1963)
Le mépris
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Contempt (1963) More at IMDbPro »Le mépris (original title)

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Contempt -- Open-ended Trailer from Criterion

Overview

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7.8/10   16,595 votes »
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View company contact information for Contempt on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
18 December 1964 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Bardot at her bold, bare and brazen best! Reveling in Rome, cavorting in Capri...jolting even the jaded international jet-set in her pursuit of love! [UK Theatrical] See more »
Plot:
Screenwriter Paul Javal's marriage to his wife Camille disintegrates during movie production as she spends time with the producer. Layered conflicts between art and business ensue. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
NewsDesk:
(106 articles)
User Reviews:
The language of Godard See more (120 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Directed by
Jean-Luc Godard 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Jean-Luc Godard  uncredited
Alberto Moravia  novel "Il Disprezzo"

Produced by
Georges de Beauregard .... producer
Carlo Ponti .... producer
Joseph E. Levine .... producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
Georges Delerue 
Piero Piccioni (Italian and Spanish version)
 
Cinematography by
Raoul Coutard 
 
Film Editing by
Agnès Guillemot 
Lila Lakshmanan (uncredited)
 
Costume Design by
Tanine Autré (uncredited)
 
Makeup Department
Odette Berroyer .... makeup artist (uncredited)
 
Production Management
Philippe Dussart .... production manager
Carlo Lastricati .... production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Charles L. Bitsch .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
William Robert Sivel .... sound (as William Sivel)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Joe D'Amato .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Alain Levent .... director of photography: second unit (uncredited)
Roger Robert .... grip (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Annie Chauvet .... publicist (uncredited)
Suzanne Schiffman .... script girl (uncredited)
Bertrand Tavernier .... publicist (uncredited)
 
Crew believed to be complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Le mépris" - France (original title)
See more »
Runtime:
103 min | Finland:97 min | USA:102 min | Italy:82 min (re-edited version) (cut)
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Argentina:16 | Australia:PG | Brazil:16 | Chile:18 | Finland:K-16 | France:U | Germany:6 (re-rating) (2002) | Portugal:M/12 | Singapore:PG | Sweden:11 | UK:15 | UK:AA (original rating) | USA:Not Rated | West Germany:18 (original rating) (w) | West Germany:16 (re-rating) (199?) (VHS release)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
This marks the first and only time that Jean-Luc Godard worked with American backers.See more »
Goofs:
Incorrectly regarded as goofs: It is possible that all "mistakes" in the film that involve visible equipment are intentional, or at least intentionally uncorrected: the film, after all, is about the artificiality of making a film, and the initial credit sequence shows filmmakers shooting the film itself.See more »
Quotes:
Paul Javal:After dinner we'll see a movie. It'll give me ideas.
Camille Javal:Use your own ideas instead of stealing them from everyone else.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Full Frontal (2002)See more »

FAQ

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful.
The language of Godard, 11 April 2009
Author: Chris_Docker from United Kingdom

Most cinephiles, faced with a choice between an original language, subtitled film, and a dubbed version, will choose the former. But what if it is a multilingual film, released in different versions? Would you be tempted to choose the version of your own language? Such a choice with Le Mépris (Contempt) yields a radically different experience, well beyond the mere question of subtitles.

The story tells of the making of a movie in Italy with an American producer, an Austrian director, plus a script doctor and his beautiful wife. The French version is multilingual. Whereas the English-American and Italian versions are entirely dubbed. Crucially, in the English-American version, the producer seems to be followed about by a quirky assistant who paraphrases the somewhat vainglorious proclamations of her boss for the benefit of other mere mortals. Only in the French version, is it apparent she is an interpreter.

This is important, as one of the themes of Le Mépris is the breakdown of communication. Not only are the producer and director at odds with each other, but the marital breakdown of the script doctor and his wife (played by Michel Piccoli and the glamorous Brigitte Bardot) is placed under the microscope. Three further parallels are neatly woven into our story. One is the tale of Ulysses separated from his wife Penelope, in which he is protected by Minerva but threatened by Neptune (Homer's Odyssey is the subject of the film-within-a-film). Second is an examination of the gap between cinema-for-profit and cinema-as-art, partly mirrored in the Le Mépris' actual production as well as in its subject matter. And third are autobiographical references to Godard's personal life – both his love life and his life as a filmmaker. Whereas the French version of the movie raises serious questions about the film industry, about the relationship between man and the gods, and even explores some of the more challenging questions about love, life and Homer's work; in the English-American version these things become like added confectionery, arty flourishes for more passive audiences. Or for whom the challenge of discovering cinematic jokes within references to Rio Bravo and works by Fritz Lang (who plays himself as a director) become an intellectual conceit.

Brigitte Bardot here finds at once both a self-consciously iconic and a substantial acting role. On the one hand, her acting talents are utilised to greater effect than in many of her films. On the other, long (soft-core) nude scenes are both complicit in, and critical of, her sex-goddess status. The opening scene, where she teasingly asks her husband which part of her body he finds most attractive, was added at the insistence of the film's American co-producers. Yet its mocking style is almost a lampoon of the use of sex to sell big budget U.S. films. The film-within-a-film's American producer, Jeremy Prokosch (played by Jack Palance), is visibly more enthusiastic about scenes involving nakedness than any faithfulness to the spirit of Homer. Director Fritz Lang, in contrast, goes to great length to examine the essence of the Odyssey, using Dante's Inferno and a poem by Friedrich Holderlin. The gods are created by men, not vice versa, and create the challenges Odysseus is forced to face. It is an easy step to observe how the American producer, throwing his weight around in 'godlike' fashion, both misses this point and actually identifies with the lesser 'gods' of sex and wealth. These gods – in the form of a much-needed cheque for Piccoli's character and the dangling of Bardot's allures before Prokosch, threaten both the marriage and the integrity of the film-within-a-film. Contempt breeds among the characters and begets tragedy.

Piccoli also has a great line about exploitation: "Usually, when you see women, they're dressed. But put them in a movie, and you see their backsides." As if to underline the point, Prokosch casually has his assistant bend over so he can use her (clothed) backside as a table to sign a cheque. His imperious and lecherous attitude dovetails the 'Americanised' scenes that show naked women's backsides without explicitness. They contrast strongly against the clothed Bardot who is portrayed as an intelligent woman able to hold her own.

This film is one of the most rounded of any of Godard's work and can easily be viewed as 'mainstream' – the more philosophical riddles being purely optional. And if Godard is displaying contempt for the prostituting of cinematic art to big business – principally American big studios – the style is still reverential towards his American heroes: Le Mépris has been accurately described as, "Hawks and Hitchcock shot in the manner of Antonioni." Godard, like Ulysses and Piccoli's character, has both engaged with the enemy - American producer Joseph E Levine (Neptune, Prokosch) and prevailed. He has not 'sold-out' to big finance but, like Ulysses on coming home, merely disguised himself as a beggar to better elicit the truth. 'Minerval' wisdom shines through (especially from the mouth of his hero-in-exile, Fritz Lang, with lines that reflect Godard's philosophy). When Bardot's character Camille wears a black wig, she resembles Godard's wife Anna Karina. Her story, subjected to unwanted attentions while her husband is absent, parallels Penelope.

By many sleights of hand, Godard continues to 'explore the uninhabited world' and simultaneously produce a film for many different audiences. Le Mépris is very clever and enjoyable to watch, but does it have anything new to say? Or is it an exquisite exercise in admiring its own limitations? The films strengths are less obvious than the overtly cinematic and revolutionary Breathless, or the philosophically challenging 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her. It has as much depth as you wish to find in it, and is more convincing than his disjointed political diatribes. But, unlike all those films, it can also be overlooked as little more than a pleasant experience. Especially by anyone who thinks it would be simpler if we all spoke the same language. Subtitles or not.

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