Le Mépris

Film , Drama
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Le Mépris

Le mépris. That’s contempt in French, and that’s the rising feeling that Camille (Brigitte Bardot) has for her writer boyfriend Paul (Michel Piccoli) during the time he’s summoned to Rome’s Cinecittà film studios and the stunning island of Capri to help Austrian-born Hollywood director Fritz Lang (playing himself) and coarse American producer Prokosch (Jack Palance) improve their movie version of Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’.

Much of the film gives us Camille and Paul’s disintegrating relationship as he’s simultaneously seduced and repelled by the world of filmmaking. You feel that same seduction and repulsion in Godard too: why else cast one of your all-time heroes (Lang) but pitch him against a dumb executive Prokosch (who has the brilliant line, ‘When I hear the word culture, I bring out my chequebook,’ unwittingly misquoting Joseph Goebbels)?

We’ve become used to films that knowingly wink at us about the process of filmmaking and play out on the fuzzy borders of the story and its making: think of Charlie Kaufman or Quentin Tarantino’s films. Godard remains the modern master of this approach. But his films are far less easy to unpick. It’s tough to know what’s sincere and what’s not: wry observation and heartfelt emotion are totally entangled. Morover, it would be wrong to see ‘Le Mépris’ as just a comment on filmmaking, or even a satire of it. It also shows Godard and his collaborators – especially cinematographer Raoul Coutard, composer Georges Delerue and editor Agnès Guillemot – at the height of their powers, creating scenes and moments of extraordinary visual power, suggestion and beauty. Like Camille and Paul’s love-hate relationship, it’s the ultimate testament to Godard’s complicated relationship with his art.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday January 1 2016
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.