171 Contempt

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Michael
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#26 Post by Michael » Sun Apr 06, 2008 11:18 am

:shock: colin! That's one fucking awesome and inspiring post you just wrote here. Very rarely I come across a post that makes me want to revisit a movie I rejected. You've shed hot burning lights on Contempt that I never noticed before.

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#27 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Apr 06, 2008 1:46 pm

Colin wrote:but we never understand what she is thinking and feeling beyond the words she says to Paul and her actions in the apartment.
I think you're overstating it a bit here. I think that Camille is more complex than Paul, and thus is far less verbal about her many feelings, which is why reading her may take more effort than reading him; but I don't think that we never understand her beyond the middle section. On the contrary, the meeting at Prokosh's house (and the bits right before that) reveals quite a lot about what she thinks. First off, we can immediately apprehend her distaste when Paul all but shoves her into Prokosh's car; second, without her having to say so, we are shown her suspicion of Paul's motives for hurrying her into the car: that he wanted some time alone with the secretary, who just happened to arrive at the same time he did. In fact, it seems as though we are capable of understanding Camille's reactions more easily than Paul who, vaguely irritated, needles her, acts petty, ect.

Paul is more easily knowable, but I don't think that makes him more knowable, especially since the rewards for figuring him out are smaller. Camille may be more mysterious in some feminine manner, but there are ample things to work with concerning her body language and facial expressions.


What's started to interest me about Contempt is that it's not so much taking cues from the Odyssey as from Greek tragedy. The central element in Greek tragedy is fate--fate determines the lives, the actions, and the tragedies of people. Godard plays ironically with fate. In those moments where his editing becomes elliptical and flashes forward to show us events that have not, but soon will, happen (most notably showing Paul taking the gun), Godard has created an aesthetic fate. By showing a future moment in the diegesis before it chronologically happens, that moment becomes an assured and fixed outcome. Through this aesthetic moment of fate, experienced only by audience, Godard can nudge us toward the idea that, perhaps, the contempt in the movie is ineluctable because of the traps the more limited characters are stuck in (Paul cannot break out of the narrowness of his own mind long enough to understand what's happened in his marriage and how he's the cause of it; hence the moment with the gun, the taking of which being the sure sign of his inability to understand Camille, becomes fated).
Godard furthers the above by those increasingly beautiful and heartbreaking shots of the gods from Lang's film. Especially that famous statue of Zeus, the camera panning underneath his giant form so that his outstretched hand seems to be passing judgement over the characters in the movie. And these shots are frequently repeated. But of course this is not Zeus; this is a statue, dead, painted; he does not move, the camera moves, and thus creates the effect--and the meaning in that effect--of Zeus moving. Fate and the gods are aestheticized into cinematic life, I think, ironically and paradoxically: Godard is suggesting there is an ineluctability to his narrative, but is at the same time undercutting the suggestion by not making fate and the gods aspects of the actual world of that narrative. How do we explain the irony--the simultaneous presence and absence--of fate and the gods in Contempt? Partly, I think, to assign blame to the characters. Their misfortune--as with all human misfortune--is not the determination of outside forces, but the result of mental traps, bad action, limited understanding, and a whole host of sins, petty and vast which, because of our inability to transcend them, become something like our fate. Is Contempt tragic because the titular emotion could have been prevented, or because it could not be prevented, like an approaching train wreck? Godard seems to suggest the latter.
Last edited by Mr Sausage on Sun Apr 06, 2008 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#28 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Apr 06, 2008 2:12 pm

Michael wrote:That's one fucking awesome and inspiring post you just wrote here.
Thanks Michael! More correctly though it is a fucking awesome and inspiring film! So good that it only feels an added bonus that this has some of the best photography and music in cinema! One of the things that has stopped me from posting about it over the years is how important and exciting I find it despite not really been able to describe it properly - my previous post in no way does it justice but I was spurred into action by the negative comments to put some jumbled thoughts down (so I should really thank Barmy!)
Mr_sausage wrote:On the contrary, the meeting at Prokosh's house (and the bits right before that) reveals quite a lot about what she thinks. First off, we can immediately apprehend her distaste when Paul all but shoves her into Prokosh's car; second, without her having to say so, we are shown her suspicion of Paul's motives for hurrying her into the car: that he wanted some time alone with the secretary, who just happened to arrive at the same time he did. In fact, it seems as though we are capable of understanding Camille's reactions more easily than Paul who, vaguely irritated, needles her, acts petty, etc.

Paul is more easily knowable, but I don't think that makes him more knowable, especially since the rewards for figuring him out are smaller. Camille may be more mysterious in some feminine manner, but there are ample things to work with concerning her body language and facial expressions.
True (even though I'd argue that we are forced into Paul's mindset that privileges his take on events, including the moment he takes a gun more to give himself a symbolic sense of mystery and danger than with the idea he'd ever use it and on the meta-level to add an unpaid off sense of threat to the film. Crimes of passion are just that - Paul isn't hotheaded enough to do something like that in the spur of the moment, even if he'd like to think he were. But it does help to anticipate the imagined car crash at the end), there is that wonderful moment when Paul arrives at Prokosh's villa and there is a camera shot following Camille as she keeps the same scowling expression but just as she says they've been waiting half an hour for him she briefly smiles as if still being glad to see him.

But her contempt seems based on the treatment she receives and Paul's is about the way he perceives her (that she would be unfaithful if she had the chance, which seems more a projection of himself onto others).

It feels similar to a Rohmer film in that you first have to get past the unreliable perception of the main character and take a dispassionate view of the characters.

However I'm not sure it is purely about 'feminine mystique', more about the mystery of all relationships. Paul seems to be taking Camille for granted as always being there. "What's changed since yesterday?" - nothing but that's the problem.
Mr_sausage wrote:How do we explain the irony--the simultaneous presence and absence--of fate and the gods in Contempt? Partly, I think, to assign blame to the characters.
I think the comment Lang makes in the early screening room scene to Proksh when the producer says he feels an affinity with the statues is important: "Jerry, don't forget the Gods have not created man. Man has created Gods".

I wonder if this could be interpreted as we are in charge of our own destiny (in the end we choose where to draw the line in what we are prepared to do) but imposing our attitudes on others in reality is foolish, whether that is looking up to and treating others like Gods or imposing other, more negative attitudes on others.
Mr_sausage wrote:Their misfortune--as with all human misfortune--is not the determination of outside forces, but the result of mental traps, bad action, limited understanding, and a whole host of sins, petty and vast which, because of our inability to transcend them, become something like our fate. Is Contempt tragic because the titular emotion could have been prevented, or because it could not be prevented, like an approaching train train wreck? Godard seems to suggest the latter.
I'd agree with the proviso that I think the suggestion is that this 'train wreck' could have been avoided a long time ago but would involve the characters actually getting involved in talking to each other about more than trivialities. The breaking points seem to come from little moments (Paul's anger explodes in the apartment scene but there is no big thing that sets him off, similarly Camille leaves but not because of one terrible act) because there isn't really a big discussion, just evasion until they can't dodge their feelings any more (all with the unexpressed emotion played through the score, drowning out the characters as they talk, not exactly sweet, nothings to each other!)

We are left to wonder when exactly people's emotions changed and hardened so there was no going back - when they gave up on each other?

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#29 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Apr 06, 2008 3:00 pm

A more recent film that has somewhat of a similar trajectory to this -- and also has a meta-performance layer -- HUR Jin-ho's "One Fine Spring Day". Perhaps because I've seen this (and thought about this) more, I have located the exact moment in which the relationship begins its (initially slow) decline. ;~}

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#30 Post by Jack Phillips » Sun Apr 06, 2008 3:35 pm

Mr_sausage wrote:. . . the meeting at Prokosh's house (and the bits right before that) reveals quite a lot about what she thinks. First off, we can immediately apprehend her distaste when Paul all but shoves her into Prokosh's car; second, without her having to say so, we are shown her suspicion of Paul's motives for hurrying her into the car: that he wanted some time alone with the secretary, who just happened to arrive at the same time he did.
There is something else here, Camille's sense that Paul is not protecting her from Prokosh, that he acts instead as an enabler, that rather than stand up to the suitor, Odysseus has become complicit in the ruin of his own house. Observe that the sports car scene is repeated in the speed boat scene, where Paul insists Camille go off with Prokosh again. There was probably a chance for the couple prior to this, but with this second betrayal, all is lost. Camille's contempt begins from there.

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#31 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Apr 06, 2008 3:57 pm

Colin wrote:But her contempt seems based on the treatment she receives and Paul's is about the way he perceives her
Now here's something. Does Paul have contempt? My gut reaction is to say no, because Paul seems petty and shallow, and contempt is something strong and deep-welled. I don't think he can understand what contempt is, which is partly why he cannot understand why Camille cannot just "get over herself" and return to normal, like him. His feelings in the apartment are a usual domestic argument out of which, once finished, the usual order can return.
Colin wrote:However I'm not sure it is purely about 'feminine mystique', more about the mystery of all relationships. Paul seems to be taking Camille for granted as always being there. "What's changed since yesterday?" - nothing but that's the problem.
I don't think it's "purely" any one thing at all. I don't even necessarily believe it's "feminine mystique," either; I merely offered it as one possible explanation.

I don't know that Paul's "taking her for granted" as always being there goes far enough or is inclusive enough. I think he takes love for granted, and Camille probably did too, as a lot of married couples would. The difference is that Camille slowly feels that love slipping away in her, and she all but begs Paul not to keep pushing it out. Paul cannot understand how love is no longer there, which is why he needs to rationalize it: she's been cheating on him, or she's playing games, or something. While this inability to understands becomes a limitation--since to understand how love left requires him to understand himself--I don't think his "taking love for granted" was initially either a limitation in himself or a provocation towards contempt. I think Camille, as I said earlier, probably took that love for granted herself, until it left; but in its leaving came greater understanding for Camille.
Colin wrote:I think the comment Lang makes in the early screening room scene to Proksh when the producer says he feels an affinity with the statues is important: "Jerry, don't forget the Gods have not created man. Man has created Gods".
I'd forgotten about that.
Colin wrote:I wonder if this could be interpreted as we are in charge of our own destiny (in the end we choose where to draw the line in what we are prepared to do) but imposing our attitudes on others in reality is foolish, whether that is looking up to and treating others like Gods or imposing other, more negative attitudes on others.
There are two possibilities: a., we are in charge; b., we are at fault.
Jack Phillips wrote:There is something else here, Camille's sense that Paul is not protecting her from Prokosh, that he acts instead as an enabler, that rather than stand up to the suitor, Odysseus has become complicit in the ruin of his own house. Observe that the sports car scene is repeated in the speed boat scene, where Paul insists Camille go off with Prokosh again. There was probably a chance for the couple prior to this, but with this second betrayal, all is lost. Camille's contempt begins from there.
Spot on.

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#32 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Apr 06, 2008 5:46 pm

Mr_sausage wrote:
Colin wrote:But her contempt seems based on the treatment she receives and Paul's is about the way he perceives her
Now here's something. Does Paul have contempt? My gut reaction is to say no, because Paul seems petty and shallow, and contempt is something strong and deep-welled. I don't think he can understand what contempt is, which is partly why he cannot understand why Camille cannot just "get over herself" and return to normal, like him. His feelings in the apartment are a usual domestic argument out of which, once finished, the usual order can return.
Aren't there different types of contempt though? Paul's isn't the obvious "I hate you" kind because he's not attached to her enough to hate her (on the other hand isn't her hatred also showing that she did have some feelings for Paul?). It seems more of a passive-aggressive Straw Dogs style nitpicking relationship, dragging those around them into their personal conflict (it is one of the reasons why I also think Straw Dogs is a close to perfect rendering of a collapsing relationship).

You can still treat someone with contempt by considering them inferior or not worthy of consultation, even without consciously realising you are doing so.

I think Paul is more aware of his treatment than he is letting on. He's obviously not averse to chatting up Francesca and seems a bit star struck with Prokosh. Prokosh, when he says he knows Paul will take the assignment because he has 'heard you have a very beautiful wife' seems to voice a fear Paul may have of his wife being with him only for his status. The conversation in the apartment where Paul chides her for just being a typist, as well as casting doubt on his commitment to his political views, suggests he doesn't think it is a worthwhile job to transcribe the thoughts of others (and this is returned to during the pre-car crash scene of Camille doing a mime for Prokosh of what she does).

I agree with Jack Phillips' impression that a big break comes for Camille when it seems Paul is pimping her out to Prokosh but I feel the relationship is destroyed during the apartment scene as it becomes obvious that they can't talk to each other even when they are the only two people there!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Sun Apr 06, 2008 8:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#33 Post by Barmy » Sun Apr 06, 2008 6:00 pm

I don't hate Contempt. It is beneath that. :o

After the somewhat interesting first 30 minutes, I find all the interior scenes (apartment, dance-hall/cinema and Capri house) to be excruciatingly boring. Truly some of the most boring material I have ever seen. I hate you, I feel mepris for you, I'll write the screenplay, I won't write the screenplay, blah blah blah. Is the dialogue intentionally banal? I hope so. Bardot certainly doesn't make the dialogue come to life. She is a terrible, blank, flat actress. I have no particular beef with Piccoli, but he is hardly a mesmerizing or even interesting presence. #-o

The Capri footage is stunning, but my kid could shoot Capri and make it look pretty. Ditto the backgroundy perfs by Lang and Palance. Fun to watch, but they don't make the film "great". The theme tune is pretty. It's also repeated about 50 times. =P~

So again I have to wonder why it is such a heralded film. :|

I skimmed your analyses and found them to be more interesting than the film. I didn't care enough to speculate about motivations, etc. =D>

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#34 Post by tavernier » Sun Apr 06, 2008 6:25 pm

Barmy wrote:The Capri footage is stunning, but my kid could shoot Capri and make it look pretty.
Scary thought...there's a Barmy Jr. running around.

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#35 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:50 pm

Do you really need five emoticons in your post? Surely you can communicate your feelings enough in your words.
Colin wrote:You can still treat someone with contempt by considering them inferior or not worthy of consultation, even without consciously realising you are doing so.
You can, but condescension need not be contemptuous, and I'm not convinced that Paul's is.
Colin wrote:Aren't there different types of contempt though? Paul's isn't the obvious "I hate you" kind because he's not attached to her enough to hate her (on the other hand isn't her hatred also showing that she did have some feelings for Paul?). It seems more of a passive-aggressive Straw Dogs style nitpicking relationship, dragging those around them into their personal conflict (it is one of the reasons why I also think Straw Dogs is a close to perfect rendering of a collapsing relationship).
So you don't think Paul is particularly attached to Camille? You think that the relationship is built around her being the trophy wife, at least for him? Hmm. I always felt differently; I always felt there was real affection between them, and that the "trophy wife" notion kind of hung over them, not literally, but in that "is this what people will think?" way that can often ruin good things. I think Camille partly feels--perhaps justly, perhaps not--intellectual insecurity, as though she were just a pretty face. This has as much to do with her own lack of confidence as it does with Paul. Indeed, I think we're assigning Paul more blame than he deserves, as though we're desparate to make someone the heavy. My sympathies are ultimately with Camille, and I think by the end she shows herself to be the bigger person; but part of what I find so fascinating--and why I think the movie is so brilliant--is that the breakdown of the marriage occurs, not from this or that big thing, but from the slow collection of petty provocations and resentments from both sides. What eventually tips the scales is Paul's refusal to give up the silly games and arguments (which Camille has).

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#36 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun Apr 06, 2008 8:25 pm

I thought the music was beautiful too-- for about the first 20 times. It's continued re-use seemed completely uninspired to me, a spiel.

I just found it one of the most flat explorations of human conflict I'd ever seen. Repetitious and grindingly boring beyond measure, verging at times of self reflexive annoyance, without the brilliant use of Aggravating The Audience As A Narrative Device (to feel what the characters are feeling within the walls of a film) of say Last Year At Marienbad (the aggravation of the importuning male-- if hes telling the truth-- at not getting his target to remember/come along at last; or the aggravation of the female in not being able to shake off this horndog lying piece of shit.. open eneded of course). Contempt is just a yawn. Especially vs Antonioni.

But as I said that's just me (that goes for my likes & dislikes). Colin, the line that deflated the for me meaning of your often sublimely exuberant post is when you write the hopelessly naive and misguided line
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!
Everyone's got their own idea of what constitutes cinema. Mike Kerpan could look at your feeble explorations of obscure Japanese film and suggest you'd missed the boat on the very core of cinema. I could pick at your lack of grasping-- via a nonexistent fanaticism-- the core and essence of the purest cinema by not exploring to any depth the zone of silent film. Hoberman thinks that to not get Bresson is to miss the whole idea of cinema.

I'll go them all better, and to something I'll stick by:

Pronouncing that a singular personal cinematic obsession is a requirement for getting the Whole of the Cinema, is in itself an act that is a legitimate delaration : 'I not only don't understand the nature of cinema, but the whole of the arts themselves.'"

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#37 Post by Michael » Sun Apr 06, 2008 8:50 pm

Barmy wrote:I skimmed your analyses and found them to be more interesting than the film. I didn't care enough to speculate about motivations, etc
That's what I'm afraid of even though colin's posts pop with wonderful insights.

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#38 Post by david hare » Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:13 pm

Godards' best pictures are never easy and Contempt is really several pictures happening at once. At the obvious level there's the parody of Hollywood (and Carlo Ponti) style commercial moviemaking (although this is not Ponti's only Godard picture.) Bardot occupies a pivotal place in it as the focus for at least two or three readings. Lang himself, as one of the only two characters who can communicate in all four languages spoken is the director you might imagine making both this Odyssean film, and the pared down and highly refined mise en scene Godard uses for Mepris itself is itself a tribute to Lang's own parsed and ultra direct and refined form for his last pictures . Giorgia Moll's character who is also able to communicate with everyone is called "Miss Vanini" in reference to Rossellini's great 1962 film Vanina Vanini (a poster of which is slapped on one of the exterior walls) and Godard throws the artifice of her role into relief in the first scene with Piccol and Palance when she actually interprets in French to Piccoli two statements BEFORE Palance actually speaks them. (This sort of verbal discontiguity is something Godard started playing around with as early as Mepris and Bande a Part and becomes a major element in his mise en scene from then on. )

The long apartment scene with Bardot, Piccoli and the typewriter roll/ camera movment of the long take sequence belies any remaining closeness in their relationship. Prior to this Piccoli is in the bathtub wearing his hat and aspiring to "become" Dean Martin in Some Came Running, when in fact he is a coward, while around him Palance plays out the parody of a philistine producer (very much like the Steiger character in Aldrich's superb Big Knife, beating down Palance's principled writer in that movie) and Lang plays an emblem of himself, and a whole theory of cinema. And Bardot seems to play, simply "Camille" and only with her does Godard allow the narrative devices to clearly construct her "destiny".

One of the most Langian aspects of Le Mepris is Lang's own change of heart from the late 1940s, and particularly with Rancho Notorious, to abandon his notion of an overriding "Fate" which determines the outcomes of people's lives, in favor of a determinism based on "Character". Camille's death at the end is the outcome of colliding and conatrdictory elements of "Fate" and the defects of "Character", in particular Piccoli's.

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#39 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Apr 06, 2008 11:39 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:Mike Kerpan could look at your feeble explorations of obscure Japanese film and suggest you'd missed the boat on the very core of cinema.
Never!

Though I might argue they missed the boat in understanding some particular film.

There is no one true core of cinema. To each their own cinema. (Isn't there a movie of that name).

;~}

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#40 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:58 am

My problem with the film first and foremost (though I may give it another try in a few yrs, tho me & JLG may be just about hopeless) is that it failed in the most crucial zone that any film needs to operate in for me to want to Get With It: as Entertainment.

Films are entertainment first and foremost, and to want to bother to sift and study out the (rather obviously lurking in this case) deeper patterns of subtext and myth, I've got to be engaged in entertainment terms. If mythology and symbolism and clever textural antics dont interact with a surface that is in itself entertaining on its own (in any of a thousand different ways, from densely packed, to simple melodrama, to completely deconstructed and abstract) then it just feels like a dry schema for an unbuilt architecture. For example, Ulysses is packed to the bursting point with deeper layers of deliberate hidden meaning. But it's surface, as a starting point, is a fantastically hilarious and moving & entertaining story.

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#41 Post by Tommaso » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:31 am

HerrSchreck wrote:My problem with the film first and foremost (though I may give it another try in a few yrs, tho me & JLG may be just about hopeless) is that it failed in the most crucial zone that any film needs to operate in for me to want to Get With It: as Entertainment.
You nailed it again, Schreck. In fact, I recall Bergman having said something similar even in the late 60s, I think it's on one of the docs that comes with the MGM set. He said something to the effect that however serious and disturbing your themes are, if you fail to entertain people, you've failed as a director. Probably that's why I have such problems with Dreyer's "Gertrud". It is marvellous in any conceivable aspect, but it just doesn't entertain me. But it's precisely the idea of film as entertainment that Godard seems to have become increasingly suspicious of (look at some of his filmic essays from the 90s, it's obvious to me that he wanted to get ride of the idea of entertainment there). Though curiously, I find "Le Mepris" at least partly entertaining, though perhaps for other reasons than the story's surface (I have already mentioned Lang, who is the main attraction for me, and yes, Capri looks wonderful here indeed, but then it always does, as has been said). In any case, Colin's thoughts almost make me want to revisit the film any time soon.
HerrSchreck wrote: For example, Ulysses is packed to the bursting point with deeper layers of deliberate hidden meaning. But it's surface, as a starting point, is a fantastically hilarious and moving & entertaining story.
Absolutely true, but also on the surface is the handling of language, and I guess that is what puts many people off in the first place, as soon as they reach the third chapter.

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#42 Post by david hare » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:51 am

I appreciate the notion of "entertain" but I think the real issue here for all of us viewers is "engage".

And if it doesn't, it doesn't!

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#43 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:10 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:
HerrSchreck wrote:Mike Kerpan could look at your feeble explorations of obscure Japanese film and suggest you'd missed the boat on the very core of cinema.
Never!

Though I might argue they missed the boat in understanding some particular film.

There is no one true core of cinema. To each their own cinema. (Isn't there a movie of that name).

;~}
And there isn't a 'boat' to 'miss'. This should be about an appreciation of a film, not a race to be won or a band wagon to be jumped on.
Barmy wrote:I skimmed your analyses and found them to be more interesting than the film. I didn't care enough to speculate about motivations, etc
But that's the thing - similarly to Jubilee I'm not getting more out of the film than was always there in the film itself, but it takes a little while to think through and even then there's no 'correct' answer. You get out of great art what you are willing to put in. I'd suggest anyone to at least have a listen to Robert Stam's commentary (even if you normally do not listen to them!). He does a better job of discussing the film than I ever could (as did davidhare above).
Mr_sausage wrote:So you don't think Paul is particularly attached to Camille? You think that the relationship is built around her being the trophy wife, at least for him? Hmm. I always felt differently; I always felt there was real affection between them, and that the "trophy wife" notion kind of hung over them, not literally, but in that "is this what people will think?" way that can often ruin good things. I think Camille partly feels--perhaps justly, perhaps not--intellectual insecurity, as though she were just a pretty face. This has as much to do with her own lack of confidence as it does with Paul. Indeed, I think we're assigning Paul more blame than he deserves, as though we're desparate to make someone the heavy. My sympathies are ultimately with Camille, and I think by the end she shows herself to be the bigger person; but part of what I find so fascinating--and why I think the movie is so brilliant--is that the breakdown of the marriage occurs, not from this or that big thing, but from the slow collection of petty provocations and resentments from both sides. What eventually tips the scales is Paul's refusal to give up the silly games and arguments (which Camille has).
I get the impression we are too far along in the relationship by the time the film starts to judge for sure what either of them is truly feeling for sure. I think we are meant to see Paul more harshly but I think the film is balanced again by the way we see Godard seems more connected to Paul's character (weren't there suggestions that this film was related in some way to Godard's feelings about the breakdown with Karina, who he literally wrote and directed?)

No one really comes out of this as a 'heavy' (even Prokosh) - Paul comes out of it seeming deluded and pathetically out of touch with how everyone around him thinks, which could be considered a problem for a writer! But I still feel for him, much as I still feel for Lang having to finish off his Greek epic even though it might not have turned out the way he hoped.
HerrSchreck wrote:Colin, the line that deflated the for me meaning of your often sublimely exuberant post is when you write the hopelessly naive and misguided line
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!
Everyone's got their own idea of what constitutes cinema. Mike Kerpan could look at your feeble explorations of obscure Japanese film and suggest you'd missed the boat on the very core of cinema. I could pick at your lack of grasping-- via a nonexistent fanaticism-- the core and essence of the purest cinema by not exploring to any depth the zone of silent film. Hoberman thinks that to not get Bresson is to miss the whole idea of cinema.
Didn't you see my winky after that tongue in cheek statement? :wink: (Wait, that didn't sound right!)

Not yet exploring subjects in depth (and understanding as such that you are not in a position to speak with authority, which I would most definitely recognise with regard to my knowledge of silent and much Japanese cinema - though I consider all my posts feeble fanboy explorations and hope you'd allow me a little slack in adding some excited comments which lack insight!) is different from watching a film and dismissing it out of hand without fuller consideration. For example by saying: "left me slackjawed that it receives any reverence at all (as in, if it were made by anyone else, it'd be forgotten)". If I said I "didn't find silent cinema entertaining", which is something you suggest a film must contain to have worth or made a post suggesting that "the only reason Frau in Mond was released was only because of Lang's name" (both statements I don't actually subscribe to) wouldn't that also be a dismissive statement - a, useless to anyone else, proclamation of my prejudices?

I'd put a wink emoticon here to add a little 'calm down, don't take it so seriously' air to this comment, but it might not be noticed!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Michael
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#44 Post by Michael » Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:30 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:My problem with the film first and foremost (though I may give it another try in a few yrs, tho me & JLG may be just about hopeless) is that it failed in the most crucial zone that any film needs to operate in for me to want to Get With It: as Entertainment.
Perfectly understandable. However, just don't dismiss Pierrot le fou yet. Give it another chance. When I watched it again, I kept JLG out of my mind and just sailed along with Pierrot. Something magical clicked and underneath the carnivalesque surface, there's something going on. I can't even explain this but I find it one of the saddest films ever. Pierrot is about loss of everything - romance, youth, innocence, etc. and is there anything more for Pierrot and his love to develop? No. The way I see: the whole film is Pierrot's complete gaze of the woman he loves and he knows she's slipping away. The whole film feels like a stubborn goodbye to something really special and only death can end this goodbye.

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HerrSchreck
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#45 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:59 pm

re Colin: you're a thoroughly right dude and I'm sure we'll survive this (strains of You Dont Bring Me Flowers... sawing in background). Though I do have a suggestion: if you end a halfhour long impassioned post by telling a loon like me that he --by not liking your pet fave film-- does not understand the very idea of Cinema Itself, the winky emoticon will kinda be superceded by all that Urgency.

There are other posters here who do it-- zoink you just a bit under your skin, but invoke their use of the winky to lament your psychosis for replying in kind "But didnt you see the winky?" The Dcuk can do it from time to time.. i e "Yeah I know I busted on you but didn't you see the Smily?"

In metaphoric terms it is the perennial showing a snatch of leg & cleavage while sitting on a barstool, flashing a bit of skin, then widening your eyes when the boys come-a calling "furchrissake what kinda girl you think I am jack?!".

I think anyone who uses a winky is being entirely passive agressive :wink: (didnt mean any of this haw haw haw)...

Re Tommasso: I was actually going to hunt that Bergman quote up (I never saw the mgm doc but I seem to remember him calling someone an "amateur" within this context.) But for me personally I entirely agree. The same principle guides me, in not really watching something like Venom & Eternity with any frequency, despite the lifetime of deeply felt ideas, and planning and intention running beneath. Many of which I agree with.. but the point is I already own those ideas within me, I don't need them re-presented all over again without much engaging entertainment.

This precept was taken up by me when a teenager when a huge huge HUGE fan (still am) of Zappa. Various (supposed or wannabe) highbrow reviewers & journalists would come up to him and ask him questions about his "serious" compositions, vs his "nonserious rock music", and ask him how one plays off of the other, how one budgets the other, etc... basically looking to get from him a sense that his various endeavors ascribed to multiple and-- for some-- lofty high atmospheres of "seriousness". And certainly, in zappa, there was/is some incredibly lofty ideas and streams of execution going on there, at least vs some of the crud of his and this time.

FZ would have none of it. He'd grow extremely livid at the idea. "Let me tell you something about Serious Music," he'd say, and go on into a historical narrative about PLeasing The Church, or Pleasing The King, or The Duke During Holidays, etc... and how it's all just entertainment. Classical Music is not generally designed to operate as specific background music for Plotting The Death of Enemies, or Amputation, or Divorce Proceedings, or Medical Experiments on Involountary Live Human Captives (though some nutjob goofball Nazi opera could probably be found, I'm talking in general).

Music, like film, for me is entertainment first and foremost. We often ascribe breathlessly dramatic meanings to works, whose authors would be totally taken aback to see how our minds process it. I don't know why JLG would want to NOT find a way to engage his audience in a pleasing way, somehow someway (for some he obviously does, but I'm talking the statement above by another poster about his desire to move away from entertainment). What is he trying to move towards? If not as entertainment, what is the film to operate as? Some Lofty High Unnameable SOmething For Really Really Smart Folks? That's poot, pure and simple... a kind which operates, if I know JLG, as a kind of entertainment for him as subscribers multiply...

Even the most gratingly self reflexive experience, when it succeeds, is entertainment. The artist has found a way to draw you in and keep your mind giving and taking from a well constructed universe. If all the artist wants is for the audience to continuously "give", it sounds like a prank dressed up in high text clothing.

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denti alligator
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#46 Post by denti alligator » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:04 pm

Adorno would say that if it entertains, it's not art.

But then again, we all know what Adorno thought of film.

P.S. I like Contempt quite a bit, and I'm not the biggest Godard fan.

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colinr0380
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#47 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:37 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:I think anyone who uses a winky is being entirely passive agressive :wink: (didnt mean any of this haw haw haw)
I think we're just going to end in a pot-kettle-black situation if we get into questions of who was passive aggressive here!

And I did mean all of it, very seriously. If you're going to dismiss something that way you need to expect someone to call you on it, especially if you do it in the thread dedicated to the film - what do you expect? But I also wanted you to know that I understand you didn't like the film and wanted to put forward some ideas that (only in my feeble opinion of course) makes the film a masterpiece.

On the subject of opinions on 'obscure' Japanese films, I'm still not sure which particular posts you are talking about - was it on Pulse, Paprika, The Idiot, all, or none that got your goat?

Anyhow I don't pretend to be making any definitive statement on this forum, just expressing personal opinion that I expect to look back on in the future and see and even be embarassed about what I'd posted when I have greater knowledge of the subject. One of the purposes of posting comments is to inspire a response from people like Michael Kerpan and yourself who actually have that knowledge and can guide me - after all this is meant to be a discussion forum rather than a posturing one. I'd much rather have silly mistakes I make pointed out and corrected than being left in the dark as to what major errors of understanding I'm making. Let's talk about it.

However I will say now that I'm not going to be (and nobody should be) bullied into watching anything just because knowledge in certain areas is thought to be lacking by others - I've got a lot of areas of film that I'm interested in and need to explore, have no particular prejudice against seeing any area of cinema, just a lack of time to explore everything fully. And I don't need to be put on a guilt trip that I'm taking my time in watching something like Pepe Le Moko, especially when I do watch and comment because of such pushing I don't get a response to my comments wanting to explore further! (except for getting a response from the always reliable davidhare)

Make an impassioned case for a film by all means but don't guilt people. I'd love for you to be able to get what I did out of Contempt but I'm not going to force you (or Barmy) to watch something you obviously don't want to see. I'm honestly not bothered whether you do revisit the film, Godard as a whole or not - it's none of my business - but I will defend vociferously a film I love as much as this one from off-handed dismissive comments.

Don't bother looking for a wink down here.

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domino harvey
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#48 Post by domino harvey » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:52 pm

=D>

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HerrSchreck
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#49 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:30 pm

Hey, man-- and this'll be my last post viz you Colin on Contempt because you sound Genuinely Wounded, and now Domino has rappled down from a helicopter to feast on the remains (Domino I can handle but as I said in my last post I consider you a Thoroughly Right Dude and the idea of having genuinely wounded a nice guy like you is not appetizing to me):

I'll give an example how I handled a parallel situation with none other than Barmy. I love Something Wild by Jack Garfien. Barmy came in with "the film aint all that." I said to Barmy-- whom I know, like me, has a very em, strong set of beliefs-- "I'm surprised the film didn't capture you." I'd know in advance that basically saying "Opposing a film like this is to oppose the very idea of cinema itself," might start an unintentional conflagration. Barmy's nuts, but I actually value Barmy a lot for his fearlessnes in popping some really absurd Worship Bubbles, or at least what I (and he) consider to be. So I express light disappointment and move on.

I didnt plaster you for not being into silents or Japanese film (I do not ever nor will I ever say such a thing to anybody, ever)-- I said that your saying "Not digging this JLG would be like me or MK saying..." which we most emphatically do not ever. MK chimed in, repulsed at the idea (as I expected he would). I would never ever say such a thing. What I'm trying to show you is that we all have our areas of deeply felt, passionate fanaticisms, and we must understand that ours are not our neighbors, and therefore such statements represent what to me constitutes almost a cardinal sin-- i e "You're not living My Mind... therefore you Dont Get It."

These threads are to discuss the pros & cons of the corresponding films. There's no sin in saying "I paid eleven bucks to see this clunker & I fell sound asleep!" (Knappen and I saw it in Film Forum last weekend). You have every right to defend a film you love-- you do it very very well and very articulately & impressively as I & others said. Keep your eyes on the film and don't sling at the sum total of another persons taste and all will be fine.

There's one more thing I'd like to say which relates but I'm going to pm you C.

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tryavna
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#50 Post by tryavna » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:11 pm

denti alligator wrote:But then again, we all know what Adorno thought of film.
At least it's not jazz....

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