Contempt (1963)

Radiant, ambiguous, serenely perverse. […] Maybe we need [Le mépris] because it’s one of the few movies of the anxious past half-century that seems equally at home with history and modernity. It might once have looked conventional, but its audacity, we now see, is breathtaking. The world of [Le mépris] is epic in a new way: a world growing in harmony, not opposition, with artifice.

Terrence Rafferty, The New York Times

Godard is a prose-poet of contempt [mépris]. He has contempt for postwar imperialism, for the hypocrisy of sexual relations, and even for the commerce underlying modern cinema.

The movie is adapted from Alberto Moravia’s 1954 novel […]. Jack Palance plays Prokosch, an American producer who hires Paul (Michel Piccoli) to write a screen adaptation of The Odyssey. Paul is pressured to commercialise the project, taking away from the purely artistic values envisioned by the director (Fritz Lang, playing himself). This sours his relationship with his wife, Camille (Brigitte Bardot).

It’s a self-referential movie, a film whose deconstructive gaze is turned on itself, especially on the mechanics of sexual allure – as in Bardot’s famous speech, enumerating the charms of her naked body. Uncompromising, uningratiating film-making.

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

  • Orig. title: Le mépris
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Distribution: Institut Français de Finlande
  • Cinematography: Raoul Coutard
  • Editing: Agnès Guillemot