Jean-Luc Godard's Classic Defines Contempt

Article excerpt


No MPAA rating, adult themes, some nudity, violence. Running time: 1:43.

FRENCH director Jean-Luc Godard took a departure from his characteristically experimental filmmaking style when he made "Contempt" in 1963. It was his first big-budget American film - complete with big names (Brigitte Bardot and Jack Palance) - a big story (based on the Alberto Moravia novel, "A Ghost at Noon") and big film stock (it was the first time Godard ever shot in CinemaScope). This re-release of the film, which has hardly been in circulation the past 34 years, is in a dazzling new CinemaScope print. It is a Martin Scorsese presentation. Despite being circumscribed by the demands of producers Joseph E. Levine and Carlo Ponti, Godard put his indelible stamp on the film. He uses it in part to show contempt for Hollywood filmmaking and the p roducers who were paying for his movie. He also chronicles the breakdown of a relationship, shows us a film being made within the film and breaks the illusion of the fourth wall to communicate with the audience. The story is about a failed playwright, Paul (Michel Piccoli), who is offered a script-doctoring job by a vulgar American film producer, Jerry Prokosch, played eccentrically by Jack Palance. Jerry already has a director working on the film, noted German director Fritz Lang, here playing himself. …


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