Le Mépris

  • Film
  • Drama
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A film about - among other things - integrity. The basic situation, faithfully adapted from Moravia's novel A Ghost at Noon, concerns a young woman (Bardot) who is gradually possessed by an overwhelming contempt for her husband (Piccoli), a writer beset by doubts when he is called in as script-doctor to a film of The Odyssey, being made by a director (Lang) who wants to capture the reality of Homer's world, and a crass producer (Palance) who just wants more mermaids. Yes, she agrees that the money will be useful; no, she doesn't feel he is selling out since he is interested in the subject; and which ever way he decides to jump is perfectly all right by her. But there still remains that tight knot of contempt which she won't explain and he doesn't understand. Around this Godard weaves subtle parallels with Homer's tale of patient Penelope, the statues of Minerva and Neptune which brood over the modern tragedy, locations which paradoxically set the airy spaces of a flat in Rome against the confines of the Homeric landscapes of Capri, and for good measure a stream of cinematic jokes. Magnificently shot by Raoul Coutard, it's a dazzling fable.

Release details

Rated: 15
Duration: 103 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Screenwriter: Jean-Luc Godard
Cast: Jack Palance
Fritz Lang
Raoul Coutard
Jean-Luc Godard
Giorgia Moll
Linda Veras
Michel Piccoli
Brigitte Bardot

Average User Rating

5 / 5

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Technoguy

Le Mepris Godard’s one flirtation with mainstream cinema is a magnificent visual essay critiquing itself. Cinemascope a new-fangled toy is a play thing to Godard whether he’s filming inside a new flat or the beautiful waters around Capri. He has Palance(the producer Jerry) and Bardot(Camille) in the same film with Lang(as himself), one of the Masters Godard revered. Paul(Piccoli) has been asked by the philistine producer, Jerry, to rewrite Lang’s classical homage to the ancient world of The Odyssey. There’s no depth to the film but it is based on a Moravia novel and within its terms it somehow works. The essence of the film is the ebb and flow of emotions between the lovers Paul and Camille in the middle of the film shot effectively in the couple’s apartment. Resentment grows into contempt off-set by flickers of tenderness and love. Paul debates with Lang that Ulysses went to the Trojan war to get away from Penelope. He also says Ulysses loves his wife, but she doesn’t love him in support of Jerry’s view that Penelope is unfaithful. That story reflects his own with Camille. She like Penelope develops contempt for her husband Paul as he sells out on this commercial enterprise by using her as a bartering tool with Jerry. For Lang the beauty of Odyssey is in the belief in reality as it is without distortion. But he like Paul has to barter with lies in the market place. To Lang, Ulysses is a simple,cunning and daring man. Jerry just wants to seduce Camille and once he gets her by boat to his villa he does. Ulysses told Penelope to be nice to the suitors. To win her love back he has to kill them. Bardot may never have struck one as an actress but in this film she pulls off the performance of a lifetime ,startled, vulnerable, flushed and defiant. The music by Delerue is remarkable at conveying the tragedy and sadness of emotion. Palance is cocky,brash, a comic thug as Godard sends up the type of producers he was dealing with. Piccoli is excellent as the young idealistic writer having to make compromises(a Godard figure). There are homages to good American film, great directors, his partner Anna Karenin (hence Bardot’s wig). The themes marinate in your mind as you view as it captures the aching, longing, heart-ache of young love gone wrong.

Technoguy

Le Mepris Godard’s one flirtation with mainstream cinema is a magnificent visual essay critiquing itself. Cinemascope a new-fangled toy is a play thing to Godard whether he’s filming inside a new flat or the beautiful waters around Capri. He has Palance(the producer Jerry) and Bardot(Camille) in the same film with Lang(as himself), one of the Masters Godard revered. Paul(Piccoli) has been asked by the philistine producer, Jerry, to rewrite Lang’s classical homage to the ancient world of The Odyssey. There’s no depth to the film but it is based on a Moravia novel and within its terms it somehow works. The essence of the film is the ebb and flow of emotions between the lovers Paul and Camille in the middle of the film shot effectively in the couple’s apartment. Resentment grows into contempt off-set by flickers of tenderness and love. Paul debates with Lang that Ulysses went to the Trojan war to get away from Penelope. He also says Ulysses loves his wife, but she doesn’t love him in support of Jerry’s view that Penelope is unfaithful. That story reflects his own with Camille. She like Penelope develops contempt for her husband Paul as he sells out on this commercial enterprise by using her as a bartering tool with Jerry. For Lang the beauty of Odyssey is in the belief in reality as it is without distortion. But he like Paul has to barter with lies in the market place. To Lang, Ulysses is a simple,cunning and daring man. Jerry just wants to seduce Camille and once he gets her by boat to his villa he does. Ulysses told Penelope to be nice to the suitors. To win her love back he has to kill them. Bardot may never have struck one as an actress but in this film she pulls off the performance of a lifetime ,startled, vulnerable, flushed and defiant. The music by Delerue is remarkable at conveying the tragedy and sadness of emotion. Palance is cocky,brash, a comic thug as Godard sends up the type of producers he was dealing with. Piccoli is excellent as the young idealistic writer having to make compromises(a Godard figure). There are homages to good American film, great directors, his partner Anna Karenin (hence Bardot’s wig). The themes marinate in your mind as you view as it captures the aching, longing, heart-ache of young love gone wrong.