Le mépris (1963)

May 24, 2023, 7:01 a.m. Evelyn Lark

Le mépris (1963)

Jean-Luc Godard's "Le Mépris" (or "Contempt" in English) is an insightful exploration of love, loss, and the often-agonizing dance of human relationships. Anchored by a masterful performance from Brigitte Bardot, it's a film that lingers long after the final frame.

"Le Mépris" is a tragic love story, an examination of the disintegration of a marriage. The central characters, Paul (Michel Piccoli) and Camille (Brigitte Bardot), navigate their deteriorating relationship against the backdrop of the film industry, as Paul grapples with the demands of adapting Homer's "Odyssey" for a capricious producer played by Jack Palance.

The film is marked by Godard's unique narrative style, full of long takes, nonlinear storytelling, and an unabashed breaking of the fourth wall. The use of color and space to reflect the emotional states of the characters is striking. One particularly memorable scene is the lengthy argument between Paul and Camille in their Rome apartment. It is both heartbreaking and engrossing, the camera circling them as they circle each other in a painful dance of misunderstanding and hurt.

Bardot delivers an arresting performance as Camille, the resentment and confusion building up inside her palpable. Piccoli's Paul is equally engaging as a man torn between his professional ambition and his personal life.

In true Godard fashion, "Le Mépris" is also a comment on the film industry itself. Through Paul's struggles with the producer, the film touches on the clash between artistic integrity and commercial success, a theme that Godard, no stranger to the dynamics of the film industry, handles with acuity.

"Le Mépris" is a film that feels intensely personal and universal at the same time. It's a contemplation of the complexities of love and the agonies of miscommunication. The film's honesty and Godard's filmmaking prowess make it a piece of cinema that continues to resonate even today.

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Le mépris (1963)

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