Here it Comes…

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Remember, Film Club tomorrow! An invention without a future! Tell your friends.

LE MEPRIS de Jean-Luc Godard, 1963.

16 Responses to “Here it Comes…”

  1. Arthur S. Says:

    Jack Palance is an ace ballerina in that still. He can do it all, thug, producer, discus thrower and then stand on his twinkletoes and be graceful as a gazelle.

    Just took a look at CONTEMPT again last night in preparation for tomorrow’s congregation, still as painfully beautiful as ever.

    Cinema may be an art without a future(- Louis Lumiere) but death is no solution(- Fritz Lang). And so cinema’s ghost will haunt us for all eternity, gazing deeply into the past and tormenting us with our loss.

    One thing’s certain, there won’t ever be anything like LE MEPRIS from the coming generations(cue Delerue’ Camille crescendo).

  2. JP gets to grips with Greek culture.

    Maybe some emerging cinema somewhere will hit on a comparable blend of youthful innocence and probing intellect. Someday.

  3. Remember Mankiewicz is to Godard as Hitchcock is to Truffaut. Therefore the key points of influence are The Barefoot Contessa (with Jack Palance as Brad Dexter with a soupcon of Marius Goring) and The Quiet American (whose leading lady Godard borrows for a pivotal supporting role.)

  4. Arthur S. Says:

    Oh I am sure great films will still get made but…the thrill is gone.

    CONTEMPT was made at a time when cinema had it’s first encounter with an exciting modernism and yet it’s made something timeless and powerful within the commercial film culture, it has colour, it has Cinecitta, it has Brigitte Bardot and it’s certainly Godard’s most “mainstream” film, today the mainstream has decaded into a corporate consumerist culture and the art cinema world is relegated into ghettoes. This is part of the longing and angst which the characters experience in CONTEMPT and what gives it strength, its tragic character, how its analysis of Graeco-Roman culture’s remoteness from modern life manifests itself so personally.

    Mankiewicz’s films may be important as is Minnelli, but CONTEMPT is very Rossellini inspired. Especially VIAGGIO IN ITALIA(which might be a good Film Club suggestion somewhere down the line), the stunning apartment fight that is the centerpiece of the film is super-duper neorealism.

  5. That’s brilliant, David, you’ve basically put up the still that corresponds exactly with the point I stopped watching this when it was on television. “What a rubbish joke” I thought. Sounds like I’ve missed quite a bit.

  6. Godard plants a Viaggio in Italia poster in the background outside the cinema when Piccoli is debating whether to go to Capri.

    Nick Ray is also referenced, and the use of red certainly seems inspired.

    Alas I haven’t had time to watch the Minnelli and Mankiewicz films which inform Le Mepris, but have moved them up my to-watch list…

    There are a few rubbish jokes in Le Mepris, but i don’t mind the discus. Palance is often used as the set-up to gags critiquiing Hollywood vulgarity, in a rather basic way. When he says “When I hear the word culture I reach for my cheque book,” it allows Lang to compare him to the Nazis, as if Palance could possibly have made that remark without knowing whom he was misquoting. But this surface broad-brush stuff is a sop to the audience who are going to have to struggle with a very elusive and underplayed love/hate story…

  7. Arthur S. Says:

    Jack Palance is a caricature of the Kirk Douglas character in THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL and the story of Michel Piccoli and his wife is inspired from the Dick Powell-Gloria Grahame section of that film where the producer manipulates the screenwriter’s wife into the arms and bed of another man so that the screenwriter can thrive artistically, only for her to die in an accident with her lover thereby giving the writer a bitter freedom. Only Godard incorporates the wife’s point-of-view to a greater degree and is more critical of the husband. Here he is the one who pimps his own wife to the producer, in the metaphorical sense.

    The Capri shoot is a hommage to Minnelli’s TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN(when was that released? or was it a coincidence), the boat and the Minnelli yellow sails(minnelli yellow is also the colour of the bathrobes worn by Giorgia Moll and Bardot) and the other influence is obviously SOME CAME RUNNING, about a novelist whose writing career is nurtured and subverted by his confusion between a madonna(Martha Hyer) and a whore(Shirley MacClaine) only here it’s incorporated into the dynamic of the marital relationship between Piccoli and Bardot.

    And the final tracking shot, extending towards a beautiful, stretching sea is also similar to the final camera movement of the Sinatra-Martin classic(where right after the camera pans away from Dean Martin taking off his hat for the first time it goes towards the sea).

    David E. suggested SOME CAME RUNNING for a Film Club program. We can do it again. One advantage of doing Godard is that there are so many movie references, you get to see ten films just doing research on one of his.

  8. It’s true. I don’t like it so much when the characters actually name-drop movies, but that’s useful because it clues you in to look for the less obvious references, like the colour schemes and characters.

    I passed over Some Came Running purely because it’s harder to see for anyone who’s not an illegal downloader. I plan to write about it soon though.

    Got some nice suggestions for future Film Clubs from Tom Sutpen: Repulsion; Anatomy of a Murder; Le Samourai; Kiss Me Stupid…

  9. Arthur S. Says:

    Have never seen KISS ME STUPID, am indifferent towards REPULSION(never understood the fuss), wholeheartedly recommend the other two!!!!

  10. robert keser Says:

    TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN was released in 1962, while CONTEMPT was out in 1963, so Minnelli’s influence is absolutely possible.

  11. I *think* Godard has actually discussed the influence.

    Kiss Me Stupid is a pretty fascinating late-ish Wilder: its apparent vices are sometimes interpreted as hidden virtues. It would make an interesting companion to Le Mepris, psychologically.

    Repulsion’s noticeable faults include all the dialogue and most of the acting (except Deneuve) but its evocation of psychosis is so powerful I barely consider it flawed at all.

  12. The last shot of Le Mepris looks forward to Michael Snow’s Wavelength (1967) more than it does backwards to Minnelli, IMO.

    Rossellini is indeed referenced, but he would never make a movie like Le Mepris. In Viaggio in Italai the estranged couple reconcile.

  13. As you can see all the themes are stated in the bluntest way possible

  14. Arthur S. Says:

    Well there’s also the fact that the couple in VOYAGE TO ITALY are far older than Paul and Camille and have been married for a much longer time than these two(who I think are together for around five years or so).

    I have never seen WAVELENGTH(and sadly any of Michael Snow’s). I never got the chance to. Its never played in any theatre near where I live or where I’ve travelled. So I’ll take your word for it.

    Besides it might not be Minnelli because PIERROT LE FOU has a similar final shot of the eternal stretching water.

    Thanks Robert for clearing it up. I got confused between the releases.

    One interesting thing, Minnelli said in an interview with Henry Sheehan that he admired Godard and when asked about the reference in CONTEMPT to his big cult favourite, he was puzzled by it. He missed Michel Piccolli saying, “I am like Dean Martin in Some Came Running”(Piccolli uses the English title there).

  15. Rather faded and a bit blurry, but still. . .

  16. Piccoli enunciates, very carefully but distortedly, “Soom… kem…. rrrrooneeengg!” And they don’t subtitle it because in theory it’s English. Minnelli must have been wondering “What happened to the subs? Was that supposed to be English?”

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