Contempt Screen 9 articles

Contempt

1963

Contempt Poster
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    The Village Voice: J. Hoberman
    July 01, 1997 | The Village Voice Guide (pp. 79-80)

    Godard called Contempt the "story of castaways of the Western world, survivors of the shipwreck of modernity." Thirty-odd years later, it seems like an elegy for European art cinema, at once tragic and serene. If Contempt is a myth about the baleful effect of the movie god on the lives of two mortals, it is also the story of Godard's victory over a similar seduction. Lashed to the mast of irascible genius, he heard the song of the sirens and lived to tell the tale.

  • Though today I wouldn’t hesitate to call it a masterpiece, and certainly one of the great films of the 60s... I still feel more comfortable with my earlier ambivalence about it than I do with its current acclamation as a timeless, unproblematic classic. Indeed, I would argue that Godard’s eclecticism must be acknowledged and understood before one can genuinely appreciate the film.

  • Contempt is the only one of Godard’s films in which his sequences have enough room to become spells, boosted on the achingly sad strains of Georges Delerue’s seesawing orchestral score. Piccoli’s screenwriter is Godard’s most honest indictment of his treasured fake world, a hired gun too blind to see his own ruination. And by film’s end—“Silencio!”—Godard has finally dared to get serious, achieving not mock pathos but a perfect tragedy.

  • All the films that Jean-Luc Godard made in the 1960s are readily rewatchable for their infectious, trailblazing energy, but CONTEMPT also possesses a magisterial authority that anticipates the poetry of his awesome late period.

  • Contempt fully earns every possible interpretation of its bold title, as Godard commits the ultimate act of artistic bravery, refuting everything he's embraced or known, saying by implication that, "I can do better. I can be more. I can be purer."

  • [Contempt is] possibly Godard's most melancholy film and probably his 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...

  • it is a full and immensely satisfying work, its tensions and teasing contradictions, moral, cinematic and intellectual, making it as exhilarating, alive and modern a film as any... The repeated motifs and melodies themselves combine, as does the movie, the classical and the modern, deepenening the meanings and the mixed emotions of defiance and nostalgia that make Le Mépris so very affecting and – a word Godard would be proud of – so very beautiful.

  • I first saw Le Mépris many years ago in a print so faded that everything was pale pink; it felt like gazing at an artefact from an immeasurably distant past. Watching the film now, with its reds and Mediterranean blues restored to their full intensity, the film is still redolent of a lost antiquity, not least because Jean-Luc Godard’s 1963 feature is so steeped in melancholy and a sense of mourning.

  • A prescient exercise in meta, this brilliant movie traces the deterioration of a screenwriter’s marriage, which parallels the film based on The Odyssey (directed by Fritz Lang, suavely playing himself) that the writer is hired to rewrite. Here love brings out the worst machinations in people, as Georges Delerue’s elegiac score strikes a moving and unsettling juxtaposition of the exaltation and meanness of human life.

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