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Article

Contempt

Posted on

Contempt

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
Unrated
runtime:
102 minutes
performer:
Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance, Fritz Lang
director:
Jean-Luc Godard
distributor:
Embassy Home Video
genre:
Foreign Language, Drama

We gave it a B+

Contempt, the early ’60s, directorial enfant terrible Jean-Luc Godard was approached by deep-pocket producers Carlo Ponti and Joseph Levine. Intending to buy Art, they waved a fat budget at Godard — who responded with this magnificent flip of the bird. It’s about a French screenwriter (Michel Piccoli) hired by Hollywood producer Jerry Prokosh (a hilariously crass Jack Palance) to doctor the script for a misguided production of Homer’s The Odyssey (i.e., to put in more T&A). The title emotion ricochets through every level of the movie: the sudden, inexplicable contempt of the writer’s wife (Brigitte Bardot) for her husband; Prokosh’s contempt for art; the gods’ contempt for Odysseus; and above all Godard’s contempt for Ponti and Levine (which extended to shooting their required Bardot nude scene as unerotically as possible). Fashioned as a neurotic fantasia on the theme of selling out, Contempt is one of Godard’s finest, most accessible works. One caveat: This cropped-print video mangles the gorgeous wide-screen visuals. Where’s letterboxing when you really need it? B+

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