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Contempt
(Le Mépris)

Screening on Film
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard.
With Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance.
France/Italy, 1963, 35mm, color, 103 min.
French, English, German & Italian with English subtitles.
Print source: HFA

The presence of Fritz Lang onscreen as a prominent member of Contempt’s ensemble cast is not only an homage by Jean-Luc Godard to one of his masters; it is also a key marker of the director’s cunning strategy to make the ultimate self-reflexive film—a film about itself. The plot focuses on the screenwriter of an adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey, aninternational co-production overseen by a crass American producer—played by Jack Palance—and directed by an aristocratic filmmaker named Fritz Lang. The narrative follows two parallel trajectories: one detailing the struggle between art and commerce during the shoot, and the other tracing the deteriorating marriage between the writer and his wife. In tribute to Lang’s uncanny ability to trace the linkage between human relationships and the society in which they exist is Godard’s brilliant intertwining of his two ultimately defeatist plots.

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