Paul Javal is a writer who is hired to make a script for a new movie about Ulysses more commercial, which is to be directed by Fritz Lang and produced by Jeremy Prokosch. But because he let his wife Camille drive with Prokosch and he is late, she believes, he uses her as a sort of present for Prokosch to get get a better payment. So the relationship ends.Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
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 »
[Reading from a book on "Lang"]
"Man can rebel against things that are bad, false. We must rebel when we're trapped by circumstances, conventions..."
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The opening cast credits are read, without titles See more »
1963's Le Mépris (Contempt) does little to hide what Director/Screenwriter Jean-Luc Godard thinks of Hollywood. On the surface Le Mépris presents an imploding marriage, but beneath the surface it is a contemptuous allegory of the commercialization and destruction of cinema as an art form.
Michel Piccoli plays Paul Javal, a novelist turned screenwriter who is offered the job of rewriting an adaptation of Homer's The Odyssey for lecherous Hollywood producer Jeremiah Prokosch (Jack Palance). Once an autonomous, self respecting and fulfilled artist, Paul has given in to the pressures of both his ambition and the lifestyle associated with Hollywood productions. Having done so, Paul has stepped onto a slippery slope where selling his soul has not only eroded his morality, it has put irreparable strains on his marriage to Camille (Brigitte Bardot).
Godard is famous for making movies concerned with big ideas and Le Mépris is no exception. In many of his films main characters and their story are vessels Godard uses to get across ideological, philosophical and intellectual arguments. As a result, many of Godard's films fail to engage their audiences in the typical ways movies do. Since the characters represent something more grandiose than individual people, these characters often come across as being inhuman. The result is, audiences can't identify with, or find an emotional attachment to the characters or stories in many Godard's films. Instead, the audiences either develop an intellectual relationship to the films, or they simply tune out. While the latter may lead to some scoffing at Godard's work as being pretentious, the work should still be respected for defying convention and forcing its audience to ask important questions.
Life imitates art and while making Le Mépris, Godard was at odds with his producers (most notably, the legendary Carlo Ponti). Like Paul, Godard was conflicted by the restraints of working on a large scale, big budget production. Unlike Paul, Godard's vision remained untainted, if not emboldened, yet...not altogether unaffected. When pushed to exploit the star power of Bardot, Godard made the choice of opening the film with Bardot sprawled nude across a bed. Instead of making it a nude scene for the sake of wanton sexuality, Camille expresses insecurity about her body, commenting on the psychologically damaging effects sexual exploitation has on women. Again, Godard makes us question why we want what we want and, like it or not, he affects the way we see things and, most importantly, movies. Love him or hate him, I don't think we have a choice but to respect him.
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