CONTEMPT: Introduction by Phillip Lopate (Recorded September 6, 2013)
$7 Member $12.50 Regular
Directed by JEAN-LUC GODARD
50th ANNIVERSARY RESTORATION
Starring BRIGITTE BARDOT & MICHEL PICCOLI
(1963) 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) from overbearing American producer Jack Palance (“I like gods. I know exactly how they feel”)? Was it that (innocent) fanny pat to multilingual interpreter Giorgia Moll? Or does she just “not love him anymore?” New Wave wild man Godard, 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, while producing a meditation on post-Hollywood filmmaking; the pitfalls of international productions; CinemaScope (“only for snakes and funerals,” chortles Lang); imposing modern psychological interpretations on classical themes; and Bardot’s derrière. From the beginning, as Godard’s voiceover recites the credits and his cameraman Raoul Coutard films at Rome’s Cinecittà; Piccoli meets Palance amid endless side-tracking shots; Lang (playing “Fritz Lang”), in the screening room, casually switches from English to French to German—with a Prego thrown in—as Giorgia Moll simultaneously translates (sometimes with a twist) for monoglots Palance and Piccoli; and 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 in seeming “real time” amid carefully complex mise en scène, 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, unfolding amid 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. And with Godard himself as Lang’s Assistant Director in the final scene. Approx. 102 min. DCP.
A RIALTO PICTURES RELEASE
"One of the masterworks of modern cinema that has influenced a generation of filmmakers… What makes Contempt so unique a viewing experience, even more than in 1963, is the way it stimulates an audience's attention as well as its senses… Godardians regard Contempt as an anomaly, the master's most 'orthodox' movie. The paradox is that it may also be his finest...with Contempt Godard was able to strike his deepest human chords."
– Phillip Lopate, The New York Times
“It seems like an elegy for European art cinema, at once tragic and serene. This myth of baleful movie gods is also the story of Godard’s victory over temptation. Lashed to the mast of irascible genius, he heard the song of the sirens and lived to tell the tale.”
– J. Hoberman
"Godard's most melancholy and most beautiful! As romantic tragedies go, Contempt is a near-perfect sphere, an exploration of the cosmos of sadness that can open up between a man and a woman, between a living room, a bedroom, and beyond."
– Stephanie Zacharek, Village Voice
"Cinemascope lusciousness! How many viewings of this movie are sufficient? The right answer is always 'one more.'"
– The L Magazine
"Godard’s most gorgeously fabricated movie—his most movieish movie!"
– Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
"They don't make them like this anymore. Point of fact, they never did; Godard's Contempt is a once-a-century cultural constellation."
– Nick Pinkerton, Village Voice
“Brilliant, romantic and genuinely tragic. It's also one of the greatest films ever made about the actual process of moviemaking."
– Martin Scorsese
“Restored, refreshed, and still raring to offend the cinema status quo. A lament—for both cinema and love, Godard’s two great themes, and for the sad fact that people always have their reasons.”
– John Anderson, Newsday