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 Post subject: 171 Contempt
PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 11:02 pm 

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Contempt

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Jean-Luc Godard's subversive foray into commercial filmmaking is a star-studded Cinemascope epic. Contempt (Le Mépris) stars Michel Piccoli as a screenwriter torn between the demands of a proud European director (played by legendary director Fritz Lang), a crude and arrogant American producer (Jack Palance), and his disillusioned wife, Camille (Brigitte Bardot) as he attempts to doctor the script for a new film version of The Odyssey. The Criterion Collection is proud to present this brilliant study of marital breakdown, artistic compromise, and the cinematic process in a new special edition.

SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DISC SET:

- New high-definition digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Raoul Coutard and enhanced for widescreen televisions
- Audio commentary by film scholar Robert Stam
- The Dinosaur and the Baby (1967): a conversation between Jean-Luc Godard and Fritz Lang (61 minutes)
- Two documentaries featuring Godard on the set of Contempt: Bardot et Godard (8 minutes) and Paparazzi (22 minutes)
- Jean-Luc Godard interview excerpt (1964)
- A new video interview with legendary cinematographer Raoul Coutard
- Original theatrical trailer
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- Optional English-dubbed soundtrack
- Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2004 11:23 pm 
I wonder if the apartment scene, contained within the chapter "The Apartment," is the longest chapter of any Criterion release. I found it unusual for Criterion not to break this scene up as they do with so many other scenes in other DVDs. Personally I dislike too many chapters. Points should be for different scenes only, not within scenes. I see no problem with a 90 minute film being divided up into as little as 3 chapters. Who can't watch 30 minutes in one sitting? The apartment scene came as a surprise to me and I have yet to find a longer chapter anywhere.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2004 11:54 pm 
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I remember when I first watched this movie I didn't know anything about the apartment scene and it's length. I actually didn't notice the length of the scene on first viewing. Then when I read the booklet it mentioned how the scene was quite long and I thought to myself "it wasn't that long, was it?" Well, now every time I watch the movie I now notice how long the scene is, which now makes it distracting (although I'm sure Godard was trying to make his audience restless) and all I can think now is "man, this is a long scene." Stupid booklet.

My favourite part of the DVD: Showing the English dubbed version and how Hollywood still found a way around Godard's tricks to avoid a dubbed track. While the interpreter is now super annoying in the English dub, I'm actually impressed at how they got around it.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 8:20 am 
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I thought the dubbed track was very interesting, especially that they totally ignored the technique of having the music drowning out the voices and just used the score in a 'classical' way of running under the dialogue!


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 11:45 pm 
The other day I watched the dubbed version with the subs on and was amazed to see vast differences in translation and transliteration. I believe someone has previously mentioned [in the old thread] the nude-on-bed scene as being a particularly amusing comparison; e.g. "tits" translated as "arms." I also noted three points where the dub cuts out [US edited print]. These occur during the apartment scene and are of multiple scene edits [of BB] and 'pornographic' art.

Looking forward to more classic Godard in 2005-6.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2004 4:23 pm 
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I noticed this too, Solent, and have often wondered if this isn't a bit of clever sabotage on Godard's part. The breaks in the dub are very clean; they don't occur mid-sentence, either when they begin or end, and they just seem intentional to me. What, they couldn't figure out how to translate these parts? I don't think so. I'm sure that the studio took over the dubbing of the film, but...

Perhaps I'm looking for something that isn't there, but this is Godard now, and considering that this is an anti-Major Motion picture inside a Major Motion Picture, I wouldn't put it past him. Does anyone know anything about this as a possiblity? Am I delusional?

A favourite film, and one helluva dvd.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2004 5:02 pm 

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Cut out's like that on the english dub track are common (there's another good example on Rififi). There is no english dub during those moments because those moments were completely excised from the American dubbed release. They cut out the shots of the sex book completely and didn't bother to create a dub track for them.

Given Godard's hatred of dubbing and his deliberate attempt in this film to make something that couldn't be dubbed, I doubt Godard had anything to do with the creation of the dub track.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2005 5:43 pm 

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Quote:
Am I crazy or have I heard that music somewhere else? I don't know if I would have heard it when I was little and listened to my parents playing it or if someone has used it for a movie trailer. It sounds so familiar.

It's also used in Casino.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 2:43 pm 
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curious to know if anyone noticed any references to L'Aventurra. The car, the wig plus mirror, the settings?, the plot somewhat.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 4:58 pm 
Most viewers see the wig as a Karenina reference. This can give the whole apartment sequence a more pesonal meaning rather than just a fictional one. Was Godard trying to tell his wife something? If so, he used up a lot of finances to do it. [Did Coutard first imply this?]


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 5:22 pm 
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blindside8zao wrote:
curious to know if anyone noticed any references to L'Aventurra. The car, the wig plus mirror, the settings?, the plot somewhat.

Godard described the film as "an Antonioni film shot by Hawks or Hitchcock". As usual, I have no idea what that means (seems more like an Antonioni film shot by Godard), but it sounds good. Notice the posters for Hatari! and Psycho (as well as Vivre sa vie) behind Prokosch's Alfa at Cinecittà.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 1:57 pm 

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I rewatched some of the supplements on this over the weekend, including the Lang/Godard conversation The Dinosaur and the Baby.

I expected there to be more reverence from Godard towards Lang, but it struck me in watching that conversation how high of an opinion that Lang actually had of Godard. I just found it interesting, especially considering some of the shenanigans that went on during the filming of this, and how Godard and Palance apparently didn't get along much at all.

I would have figured Lang, as an actor, wouldn't take to some of Godard's style of directing or working without a written script, though I guess Contempt had a more finished script than say, Masculin Feminin.

In the epilogue of that talk it mentions how much Lang actually prepared for the interview and shows a few cuts of him trying to get the pronunciation right of Vivre sa Vie which made me laugh.

At any rate I really enjoyed that feature, and it might be one of my favorite extras on any Criterion disc.

Oh, and did Lang wind up shooting that movie that he mentions in this interview? The name escapes me now.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 2:08 pm 
wax on; wax off
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Yeah, that is a cool little interview. No, I believe Lang directed his last features a number of years before Contempt.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 2:42 pm 
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hangthadj wrote:
I expected there to be more reverence from Godard towards Lang, but it struck me in watching that conversation how high of an opinion that Lang actually had of Godard.

Actually, Godard worshiped Lang, but was probably at the height of his arrogance at this point (1967) and worshiped himself even more.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 2:07 am 
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A fascinating movie. Lengthy shots, few close-ups, and apparently only about 150 shots. It's like walking through an art gallery in which an artist has an instillation depicting the break-up of a couple. Gorgeous imagery. Plus, an oddly amusing climax and a final shot that left me slack-jawed.

I liked the use of blue, white, and red. I don't know if this is referring to the colors of the French flag, but if it is, then I feel proud of myself, because I never notice these things, at least not until I listen to the commentary, or read a few essays.

solent wrote:
the nude-on-bed scene as being a particularly amusing comparison; e.g. "tits" translated as "arms."

"Which do you prefer, my arms or my elbows?"
"I like them both equally."

I haven't seen the dubbed version, but I can't imagine it could go any other way.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:56 am 
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GringoTex wrote:
hangthadj wrote:
I expected there to be more reverence from Godard towards Lang, but it struck me in watching that conversation how high of an opinion that Lang actually had of Godard.

Actually, Godard worshiped Lang, but was probably at the height of his arrogance at this point (1967) and worshiped himself even more.

To be fair, Fritz Lang is playing a character named Fritz Lang, and the character is complicit in this studio; he continues to work on the film even though the producer is a world-class asshole (as did Godard, on Contempt itself).

The movie is about the artistic oppression of the studio system, but that doesn't mean the artists themselves (whether screenwriters, actors, or even directors) are excused for their complicity. Besides, it's totally Brechtian to undermine the possibility for hero-worship.

Also, one minor correction: the film is from 1963.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 9:54 am 
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Man, Godard and Nature (and Bardot, Too)

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JEAN-LUC GODARD’S radiant, ambiguous, serenely perverse “Contempt,” 45 this year, is being revived again, in startling color and elegant, ribbony CinemaScope, for the second time in just over a decade, and it’s beginning to look like one of those movies we can’t do without for very long: a classic. Film Forum, which in 1997 gave New Yorkers their first opportunity in many years to see the film on the large screen it practically requires, starts another run (two weeks, minimum) on Friday. That 1997 revival opened a lot of eyes — of older filmgoers who’d been baffled by “Contempt” on its initial release, and of younger ones who knew it only by its reputation as Mr. Godard’s failed attempt at big-budget commercial moviemaking, or who had perhaps endured a college film society screening of a choppy, faded print. It’s time to open our eyes to its troubling beauty again.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:03 am 
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Quote:

Luckily I live in the NY area. I can't wait to see Le Mepris on the big screen. One of my favorite films of all time..


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:40 am 
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Quote:
JEAN-LUC GODARD’S radiant, ambiguous, serenely perverse “Contempt,” 45 this year, is being revived again, in startling color and elegant, ribbony CinemaScope, for the second time in just over a decade, and it’s beginning to look like one of those movies we can’t do without for very long: a classic. Film Forum, which in 1997 gave New Yorkers their first opportunity in many years to see the film on the large screen it practically requires, starts another run

I'm definitely going to go see this next week. This, and Last Year at Marienbad.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:36 pm 
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Not sure where else to put this... from bluestateempire:

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 2:11 pm 
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An appreciation of Bardot's ass


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 10:49 pm 
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Overrated, boring, irrelevant and watchable only due to the casting of Bardot and Capri. Oh the studio system is so MEAN!!!!!!!11


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 2:46 am 
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I have to agree with Barmy on this one-- just about. This film did next to nothing for me and left me slackjawed that it receives any reverence at all (as in, if it were made by anyone else, it'd be forgotten). But that's just me... one man's opinion.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:36 am 
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Being not much of a Godard fan, I have to say that I find this one of his more accessible films. And of course seeing Fritz Lang, stylish as ever, is a pleasure in itself for me. Truly beautiful music as well.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 11:01 am 
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Nooooooo!! :o

This is one of the best (in my opinion the best) film of the 60s! Robert Stam does an excellent job in his commentary talking about the film. I'll just quickly go through some of the things that I love about this film.

Stam explains the sequence of Bardot and Piccoli in bed at the opening of the film as Godard's response to the producers requesting more Bardot nudity. It is filmed in such a way as to occur before the story (so has not real impact on the characters, as Stam says it happens before Bardot becomes Camille and before Piccoli becomes Paul) and to be just a shopping list of bits of Bardot that she is pointing out, all shown in red, white and blue light! I understand that it seems a bit strange when you don't realise it is a teasing of his producers but with that knowledge it becomes wonderful and Piccoli's line when Bardot asks him whether she loves him: "Totally, tenderly, tragically" could sum up the story to follow and the themes of Godard's films up to that point - even the way we love cinema when we might have to struggle through watching terrible films to reach the wonderful, effort-affirming stuff!

I don't know whether others notice but I like the way that the added bedroom digression occurs between the opening credits showing the film camera following Francesa Vanini reading her book and then the shot following the bedroom scene is from that camera's perspective, from that same position showing Paul coming to meet her and then we track back along with the pair down the same tracks we saw previously in the credit sequence. I've not seen a film show the mechanics of cinema in such an effective way, before or since.

Barmy, do you also hate The Bad And The Beautiful and Two Weeks In Another Town for their cynical portrait of the studio system? Contempt is about that specific era of international co-productions, about the way that creativity is being lost and art sterilised by lack of interest in that aspect by dictatorial producers only interested in the bottom line and achieving the power the movie moguls of the past had (this is Jack Palance's best performance, playing the producer like a small time hood with delusions of grandeur).

Sure you get your Greek epic directed by Fritz Lang but you smother any creativity he would have brought by tying his hands so the film turns out as dead and deadly dull as a pan around a bunch of statues. And the sad thing is the producers don't care because they only wanted Lang because of the name value he represented, so it doesn't matter to them that they've indirectly contributed to destroying his career and 'name value' once the terrible film eventually appears in theatres! The fact that the film is part way through production and they're hiring Paul suggests a similar contempt for writers, an interchangability that the producer is sure will not affect the quality of the film, simply because they don't usually watch the final product, unless it is with an eye to catching the nude scenes!

Barmy: 'irrelevant'? Sure this is a film of a specific era, specifically dated but can you not find pleasure in seeing a film about a different time? By that logic Gladiator is dated because the Roman Empire no longer exists, so why should we care? #-o

It is that attitude that suggests Homer's Odyssey is dated and needs a modern spin with a couple of modern day stars! :wink: At least Godard realises the absurdity of that notion, which is why the film is both a comedy and a tragedy!

I'd even argue in this era, not of international co-productions filmed at big studios but of piecemeal funding from various sources stitched together for funding, that this film remains just, if not more, relevant today as it did then - the only change being that today's producers look back on the Pontis and Levines as inspirational figures holding unimaginable power!

Filmmaking is only one part of this magnificent film. The story of the couple is breathtaking. The first shot of the apartment shows the importance of this place to, at least Paul, and shows what all the problems with Prokosh are for - to facilitate a private life and live in comfort. However these people aren't in comfort, they needle each other. Paul gets everything he wants in his professional life by going with the flow, by selling out and taking the cheque for the rewrite and even flirts with Francesca, deluding himself of his wit and the possibility of an affair.

But he is almost obsessively jealous of Camille (a classic case of "I don't want you but I definitely don't want to see you with others"), so much so that when he insists she go off with Prokosh in his bright red, growling penis-substitute of a car he then accuses her of using the time alone with the producer to cheat on him. One of the great things is that Bardot is left opaque - she is stripped bare at a number of significant points in the film, including the forced on Godard opening sequence - but we never understand what she is thinking and feeling beyond the words she says to Paul and her actions in the apartment. What does the ironic invitation of sex to Paul mean emotionally to Camille? This is magnificently underlined by the way the film breaks down at that point (similar to way it breaks down at the opening for the bedroom scene) to simply dwell in almost third person terms on the relationship and the figure of Camille - going into flashbacks, scenes we've already seen and almost photoshoot like scenes of idealised moments.

When did love stop for her? - before the film started?, in the Rome sequence with Prokosh when Paul abandons her?, during the apartment scene where the cracks in their relationship are discussed? Is there still hope in Capri for Paul to 'slay the suitors' and win her back, and does he even want to? After all Paul, whenever he has had a chance to 'win' Camille or empathise with her has retreated back in preference of his own interpretation of the way he wants to see her - he doomed the relationship by not seeing her as a real character, just someone he could write on a page.

I've written about the ending before but it is worth repeating. We are much closer to Paul in this film, nowhere better shown than in the final sequence when Bardot makes a grand gesture, sheds her clothes and swims off nude leaving the guys alone to stroke their egos (amongst other things!) but Paul has to invent an ending. He has to twist the words on the note simply saying Camille is leaving Paul into a tragic, bloody, ironic death for her. And, hey, why not kill Prokosh off at the same time - that wouldn't be such a bad idea!

The fakeness of the car crash scene only shows that Paul is not coming to terms with the reasons why Camille left him, but instead is doing what he always does - is writing her out of his story on his own terms in the manner that will allow him to rest easy nights.

It leaves Paul seeming just as pathetically out of touch with a reality of a situation as the characters in the Lang film and suggests just how bad a writer he may be!

This film is everything: the mechanics of filmmaking, the search for ideas to use in your work, a portrait of a co-production, a comment on selling-out, the problems of translation and miscommunication both personally and professionally, and finally the importance of art used blindly to justify your own worldview but also when properly used with the power to illuminate.

I hate to be so dismissive but since the comments above dismissed this perfect film I would venture to suggest that to hate Contempt is to hate the very idea of cinema itself!

:wink:


Last edited by colinr0380 on Sun Apr 06, 2008 11:33 am, edited 2 times in total.

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