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Le Mepris (The Studio Canal Collection) [Blu-ray]
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Jean-Luc Godard writes and directs this French drama starring Brigitte Bardot, Fritz Lang and Jack Palance. An aspiring playwright, Paul Javal (Michel Piccoli), finds himself caught between the creative director (Lang) and the crass American producer, Jeremy Prokosch (Palance), on a movie adaptation of Homer's epic poem 'The Odyssey'. While the director wants to faithfully recreate Homer's world artistically, the producer demands a more commercial feature and waves his mighty chequebook to make it happen. When Paul finds himself swayed by the power of the producer's money, he finds his wife Camille (Bardot) begins to regard him with increasing contempt.
Starring Brigitte Bardot, then at the height of her fame, and Michel Piccoli as a married couple tearing the last strips off a failing marriage, Le Mépris is both one of Jean-Luc Godard's most accessible films and perhaps his most excoriating and emotionally raw. Godard and his regular cinematographer Raoul Coutard (lensman for most of the greatest films of the New Wave) splashed out the budget for this international co-production on Bardot's salary and gorgeous CinemaScope photography to capture the Italian setting's intense beauty, bright as a knife.
The nominal story concerns the film production of an adaptation of Homer's Odyssey, on which Piccoli is the scriptwriter, much to the disgust of his wife Camille (Bardot) who preferred life when he merely wrote novels. Hired by Jack Palance's swaggering American producer to adapt the Greek epic for a film to be directed by the august Fritz Lang (director of M, here playing himself), Paul inadvertently sets in motion the elements which will unravel his marriage, earning his wife's contempt (the closest translation of the French word "mépris"). Soon, the tenderness of the film's opening sequence--wherein they loll naked on a bed as she coquettishly solicits his approval of each of her body parts--gives way to harrowing bickering, the meat of film's central 35-minute scene which will induce pained winces in anyone who has ever been through a bitter split-up. If that sounds harrowing, be reassured that Le Mépris is not without its lighter moments and joys: Godard's trademarked musings on the nature of cinema, Bardot looking exquisitely chic in a selection of soigné little outfits, Lang bemusedly quoting the German poet Hölderlin and Bertolt Brecht. As mannered as the New Wave posturings now seem, Le Mépris still looks unbeatably stylish, its themes as eternal as Homer and the Capri landscape. --Leslie Felperin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
"Le Mepris" is filmed exquisitely; its colours are vivid , the mood languid and pensive , the soundtrack haunting. Like in "Au Bout de Souffle", Godard's female lead is capricious and mysterious,beautiful but dangerous. She turns a minor display of indifference by her husband into a marital make or break ,much to his surprise. However as the film unravels ,we see that the harmony and tenderness of the couple in the opening scenes disguises fundamental shifts in the balance of their relationship. Piccoli has a sharper intellect and more ambition than Bardot and she feels he is leaving her behind, only her physical beauty appealing to him. She wants to bring things to a head, restore the marital equilibrium in some way ; Piccoli is merely bemused at her sudden coldness to him.
The viewer never quite knows whether the marital problems are down to Piccoli's insensitivity or Bardot's irrationality, in the same way as the subplot of the filming of the "Odyssey" leads to debate about whether either Odysseus or Penelope were secretly fed up with each other despite appearances to the contrary on the surface and who was most to blame.
An enjoyable film which has much to say about the fickleness of modern relationships and Bardot's portrayal of a selfish,cold bitch/ strong ,liberated woman (delete as appropriate) was ahead of its time by several decades.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Marvellous, Raoul Coutard, Bardot, Technicolor. If only films this century were as good.Published 2 months ago by Mr. R. Stevens
Jean-Luc Godard's 1963 French New Wave meditation on cinema features France's number one sex symbol Brigitte Bardot in provocative poses, great world cinema director Fritz Lang as... Read morePublished 8 months ago by heath ledger
There's not been many films that I've failed to see through to the end but this is one.
Gave up watching after an hour as it was so incredibly boring. Read more
Movie about its own production processes could not help be anything but solipsistic. And such proves to be the case here - overlaid with the director’s obvious despair at the state... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Frank TALKER
considered by many to be Godard's best film, this is an excellent transfer from Studio Canal, and includes extensive special features such as two interviews between Godard and... Read morePublished on 30 April 2014 by DM
Goddard clearly is a major figure in world cinema...
This is probably as good a print as you are going to see...
It has many interesting things about it... Read more