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"Contempt" (Le Mepris) Jean-Luc Godard (1963)

Jean-Luc Godard’s “Contempt” is a 1963 French New Wave melodrama film. This film stars Brigitte Bardot as Camille Javal, Michel Piccoli as Paul Javal, Jack Palance as Jerry Prokosch, Giorgia Moll as Francesca Vanini and German film producer, Fritz Lang as himself. In the early 1960s, Godard was experimenting with creating movies that focused more on the action instead of dialogue and plot, starting with his first film “Breathless”. Contempt’s storyline was quite unique for this movie because the main characters, Camille and Paul were mostly unhappy with one another at all times, when they are in public and in private.

The opening illustrated how Camille and Paul were deeply in love prior to meeting Jerry. From that point, they met Jerry and Francesca at a studio backlot where they spoke about Fritz Lang and how he was difficult to work with. Jerry spoke to Paul and Camille in English where Francesca translated for Paul and Camille of what Jerry is saying. The use of multiple languages is quite unusual in a foreign film, which in this case may confuse the viewers of what is actually going on where some of the dialogue has some subtitles (Foreign Language Dialogue) and others do not have subtitles (English Dialogue).

Paul and Camille then were introduced to Fritz Lang and he showed them some clips from his most recent film. Following that, Paul introduced himself late to Jerry and then Jerry gets super angry at Fritz Lang where he destroys some of his films. Following their introduction, Paul began writing a screenplay for Fritz Lang’s next movie, which did not end up being written because of conflicts between the film crew and Paul and Camille.

Shortly after they met Fritz, Paul and Camille’s relationship began to go upside down, where Camille started not liking everybody including her own husband, Paul. The main trigger was accelerated when Paul wanted to go on to vacation and Camille wanted to stay back. Throughout the entire film, there were several instances where Camille and Paul were fighting over and arguing if they still love each other or not. Additionally, Paul continuously refused to accept that Camille and Paul are not a great fit until one final fight on the island of Capri.

Jean-Luc Godard was successful at creating a story that was quite unique because his main goal was to have viewers enjoy and to be thrilled of what might happen between Paul and Camille. Also, he included wonderful camera shots of Capri, the film studio and all of the settings where Paul, Camille and the film crew performed at. The actors including Fritz Lang successfully portrayed the obstacles between the characters from beginning to end. Despite the storyline’s obstacles, the movie provided extreme drama that kept viewers entertained and thrilled of what could happen next between Camille, Paul and the film crew. “Contempt” as a whole can be used as an inspiration for people’s everyday life or to have a successful married life.

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