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on 10 November 2000
The striking red-yellow-blue colours of this film frame a harrowing, enigmatic narrative which refuses to be reduced by simple explanations. The (predominantly male) eye of the camera tenderly takes apart Brigitte Bardot's beautiful body, the female object to be looked-at. But as communication breaks down in Camille and her scriptwriter husband's marriage, woman becomes subject and man becomes object - the object of contempt. Camilles's silences, that is what she refuses to explain to her husband, is her power, so her contempt for him is never explicitly explained in the film, leaving the spectator's mind to go over and over the sparse dialogue. In the idyllic Italian landscape, with its azure sea, the story of the Odyssey is made to resonate painfully with the tragedy of a perfect love turned irrevocably sour. There's no doubt that this is a sad film, and its rather dated style may seem strange to the modern eye, but it is still incredibly powerful and striking. This wonderful film won't leave your memory quickly.
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on 13 December 2010
Quite seriously in my view the best film directed by Jean Luc-Godard & I've seen most of them.I had read the novella ("A Ghost at Noon" by Alberto Moravia),on which it is based,before I first saw the film at an art house in the early 1970s & I thought it stunning....it was made in the early 60s but was deemed too non-commercial for general release.Godard has brilliantly telescoped the story & action into a few days.Stunningly shot with haunting music by Georges Delerue, I find it a deeply moving & superbly acted tale of the collapse of a marriage.Bardot is,of course,ravishing ...made when she was in her late 20s...but do not expect any soft-core erotica a la "Et Dieu crea la femme"...just an essay in classic cinema with no cine-gimmicks that ,for me,spoils some of Godard's other work.Utterly delighted it's now available on DVD..I have a VHS copy that is getting old through years of playing.
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on 17 January 2003
You can read the synopsis of the film on the other reviews present. Let me, on the other hand, focus on one scene which captures the beauty, intelligence and genius of Le Mepris.
The scene in question is in the bedroom between Piccoli and Bardot at the beginning of the film. It is likely they have just made love and Bardot (Camille) embarks on reassuring herself the love of her husband through a series of questions about her body. This portrayal of love gives us a feeling of heart-warming gratitude to Godard for delivering us from the fog of blockbuster, commercialised half-baked notions of love. This is, however, not the only way in which Godard strives to be different.
Let us look at lighting, music and camera. This tender scene is filmed with a strong red filter to enhance the impact of love. The hypnotising soundtrack dutifully plays over the images unfolding before us. The camera begins with a steady shot of the couple in bed. Nothing to write home about, I suppose. Except the red filter first changes to natural lighting, then to blue. When a piece from the soundtrack comes to an end, it does not coincide with the end of the scene as is usually the case, but rather the latter continues with all its intensity in silence. At other times the music becomes so loud we cannot hear the dialogue. The camera, having performed its common tasks of presenting the scene embarks on a close-up amble of Camille's nude body as if it had a mind of its own.
All the above techniques are deliberately engineered by Godard to make the spectator snap out of his passiveness. He is telling us to be independant, to react against being told how things are, in this case love. Incidentally, let us not forget that the physical love-making between Bardot and Piccoli is absent in this scene. Think about how hard a commercial movie will painfully try to film its obligatory love-scene in a constantly novel way to realise how significant this is.
Although nearly 40 years old now, Le Mepris remains and will remain fresh and inspiring for many years to come. The film is a necessary antidote to today's multiplexes and as relevant in the present cinematic climate to film-making in the 1960's.
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VINE VOICEon 11 October 2005
"Le Mepris" is another superb Godard movie. It tells the story of the marital difficulties of a scriptwriter (Piccoli) and his typist wife (Bardot) as Piccoli's involvement in the filming of Homer's "Odyssey" (directed by Fritz Lang) causes friction between the pair.The film starts off with the couple very much in love, but a perceived slight by Piccoli on his wife and a flirtation by him with the film producer's female assistant him act as the catalyst for the unhinging of their relationship.
"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.
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on 8 December 2015
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 a movie director (himself), French star actor Michel Piccoli as a screen scriptwriter and American film star Jack Palance as a difficult American film producer. They are all cinema icons of the era - and Godard uses them cannily...
http://derekwinnert.com/le-mepris-contempt-1963-brigitte-bardot-jack-palance-michel-piccoli-fritz-lang-classic-movie-review-3011/
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on 21 June 2005
From the very first shot, this film seemlessly blends intense melodrama with a more wistful and abstract feeling of loss. The contempt is never actually explained, and everything ends in a self sabotaging, wonderfully anti theatrical manner that brilliantly undermines the films constant reference to standard cinematic practice (the film is set on a movie set, and stars Fritz Lang as himself. Wonderful!)
Almost every cinematic conciet is deliberately overused, for example the long, flowing dollys (even a standard shot/countershot conversation is shot on a dolly) and the persistant, repetitive main theame music that permeates everything, to the dizzying conflict of the principal chracters different languages (language is portrayed as the barrier here, its more the unxplainable and impeceptable contempt that suddenly flares up in the central chracters previously flawless love.)
Absolute classic Goddard, proberbly his best film, and almost flawless in every respect.
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on 16 April 2006
Generally considered to be Godard's finest work, Le Mépris is a film about film and about the disintegration of a marriage, where neither party is sure why the relationship is falling apart. The acting is excellent, with Brigitte Bardot giving a mesmerising and enigmatic performance. The direction is superb and stylish, particularly in terms of Godard's use of colour. (The film was made in 1963, when colour was just beginning to be introduced, so it was very much a new tool.) This is a film where little happens, but which burns itself into your consciousness.
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on 22 April 2011
A few shots don't seem to fit picture quality of a Blu-ray disc:
TC 00:27:22-40;
00:29:38-43;
00:33:01-34:32;
00:36:29-37:05;
01:25:47-30:08
- total = 5'21"

Runtime: 1:42'56"; 24 fps
Aspect ratio: 2,35:1, (orig.)
Audio: GB, F, D, E
ST: GB, F, D, E, NL, DK, N, SU, S, JPN
Region Code: A, B
Chpt.: 12
Dual Layer, 47 GB (Film: 29 GB)
Bonus:
- Introduction Colin MacCabe [author of
"J.-L. Godard - Portrait of the Artist at Seventy"; faber&faber Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at Seventy] 5'31"
- "Contempt"; 52'28"
- "Le Mepris... tenderly"; 31'31"
- J.-L. Godard talks to Fritz Lang, 1:00'57"
- Meeting with Fritz Lang" by P. Fleischmann, 14'27"
- Trailer
- BD Live
- 20-pages colour booklet
- Digipak
Studio: Canal
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on 6 November 2016
I couldn't watch this to the end. Waiting for Bardot to lose the bathrobe completely couldn't make up for the gratuitous violence and the usual exploitation of glamourous women in cinema. Palance over acting like mad and the rest of them not acting at all. The whole thing hasn't worn well and now looks faintly silly and very self conscious.
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on 26 October 2015
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.
Also annoying - a chap with a hat he never removes from his head even when in the bath!
Bardot playing the bored wife left me unmoved.
At times pretentious & arty farty the movie was going absolutely nowhere at the hour mark.
Don't waste your valuable time watching this drivel!
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