Contempt (Le Mépris)

  • Dir: Jean-Luc Godard

  • France/Italy, 1963, 103min, DCP

  • Cast: Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance, Fritz Lang

A cause celebre following Breathless (1960) and Vivre sa Vie (1962) , Godard was courted by producer Carlo Ponti to make a film in Italy. The Frenchman settled on an adaptation of Alberto Moravia’s novel Il Disprezzo, about a scriptwriter working on an adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey, while struggling with his own failing marriage. Portrayed onscreen by Michel Piccoli and the radiant Brigitte Bardot, their relationship begins to mirror that of Ulysses and Penelope, especially once Camille (Bardot) catches the eye of Jack Palance’s playboy producer. Godard, at the height of his metaphysical experiments, takes the story one step forward, projecting his own troubled relationship with actress Anna Karina onto his protagonists. What emerged was a radiant, visually ravishing story of cinema and relationships regarded as one of the director’s best works. Also, watch out for German Expressionist master Fritz Lang, who plays himself.

#21 in Sight & Sound ‘s 2012 Greatest Films of All Time Poll



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