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Slideshow

CONTEMPT

Saturday, July 30
8:00

Tuesday, August 9
8:15

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France, 1963
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Starring Brigitte Bardot, Jack Palance, Michel Piccoli, Giorgia Moll, Fritz Lang
Screenplay by Jean-Luc Godard
DCP. Approx. 101 min.


That’s what ex-typist Brigitte Bardot has for husband playwright/screenwriter Michel Piccoli – but why? Does she think he used her to get that lucrative assignment (to rewrite an adaptation of The Odyssey, to be directed by Fritz Lang) from overbearing American producer Jack Palance? Was it that (innocent) fanny pat to multilingual interpreter Giorgia Moll? Or does she just “not love him anymore?” Wild man Jean-Luc Goddard, given international stars, a best-selling novel by Alberto Moravia, two high-maintenance producers Joseph E. Levine and Carlo Ponti), and the biggest budget of his career, still succeeded as usual in overturning the conventions of mainstream filmmaking; CinemaScope (“only for snakes and funerals,” chortles Lang); imposing modern psychological interpretations on classical themes; and Bardot’s derriere. From the beginning, as Godard’s voiceover recites the credits and D.P. Raoul Coutard shoots at Rome’s Cinecittá; Piccoli meets Palance amid endless side-tracking shots; Lang, in the screening room, casually switched from English to French to German; to a studiedly fake death scene; we’re obviously in Godardland. But a tour de force 30-minute sequence that never strays from the Bardot/Piccoli apartment, with the couple hashing over their problems amid carefully complex mise en scene, could fit easily into a Bergman heart-searcher. (Although Piccoli also sports a cigar and hat in his bath in homage to Dean Martin in SOME CAME RUNNING.) Godard’s most sun-splashed production with achingly romantic music by Georges Delerue, unfolds in the airiest and most fabulous of apartments and villas, and against dazzling seascapes, with a complex color scheme featuring a retina-searing red — always the same shade — on robes, railings, convertibles, etc.

Reviews

“One of the defining moments of modern filmmaking. Thrilling in its stylistic freedom, hilarious in its dry wit and yet infinitely sad in its vision of a media-cluttered modern world cut off from the wholeness and harmony of the Greeks. Remains as vital and challenging as the day it was made.”
– Dave Kehr

“It still seems like an elegy for European art cinema, at once tragic and serene. This myth of baleful movie gods is also the story of irascible genius, he heard the song of the sirens and lived to tell the tale.”
– J. Hoberman, Village Voice

Film Forum