Le Mépris (1963)
directed by Jean-Luc Godard
starring Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance and Fritz Lang
Paul Javal, in Le Mépris (1963)
As with most of my experiences with Godard and the french new wave, Le Mépris (1963) was not a smooth watch for me. Though I was expecting a film that is simultaneously aloof and too aware of itself, something about this one frustrated and bored me. The first culprit is undoubtedly the use of the translator. Because there are three different languages between the characters – english, french, and german – there’s literally a translator in every scene where they co-exist, repeating every line that is spoken. While I usually find the use of multiple languages in film interesting, this was frankly just exhausting.
I went in rather intrigued about Lang’s role and did not come out disappointed. His grounding presence was a compelling counterweight to the otherworldliness of Bardot and Piccoli; whilst Palance’s character felt vulgar and ordinary in a funny but disconcerting way. Bardot and Piccoli had an effortless allure that shines particularly bright when it’s just the two of them, but in the end it wasn’t enough for me.
— Camille Javal, in Le Mépris (1963)
Because the thing about these films, is that if you can’t get into them and feel them, if you can’t understand them, you’re left with two hours of characters saying things they seemingly don’t mean, mocking you with references you don’t get. When this happens, there’s very little to hold on to besides gorgeous imagery, an iconic score, and poetic dialogue. It’s an aesthetically pleasing experience, but not a very fulfilling one.
Le Mépris (1963)
Rating: 3.0 Stars
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Writen by Alberto Moravia (novel)
Starring Brigitte Bardot, Jack Palance, Michel Piccoli, Fritz Lang
Running Time: 1h43min Genre: Drama, French New Wave
Synopsis A philistine in the art film business, Jeremy Prokosch is a producer unhappy with the work of his director. Prokosch has hired Fritz Lang (as himself) to direct an adaptation of The Odyssey, but when it seems that the legendary filmmaker is making a picture destined to bomb at the box office, he brings in a screenwriter to energise the script. The professional intersects with the personal when a rift develops between the writer and his wife.
Previous Blind Spot Entries:
A Place in The Sun (1951) | January
Love With The Proper Stranger (1963) | February
Letter From An Unknown Woman (1948) | March
La Notte (1961) | April
Metropolis (1927) | May
Paths of Glory (1957) | June