Working with his biggest budget to date, Jean-Luc Godard created a sublime widescreen drama about marital breakdown, set during pre-production on a film shoot.
Famously, producer Carlo Ponti was disappointed that Jean-Luc Godard’s adaptation of the Alberto Moravia’s novel A Ghost at Noon contained no nude shots of star Brigitte Bardot. With typical perversity, Godard compromised by adding an explicit scene of Camille (Bardot) naked on a bed as screenwriter-husband Paul (Michel Piccoli) lists her attractive features. The anecdote is appropriate for a film that features an American film producer (Jack Palance) exerting his crass influence over the Grecian epic being made by German genius Fritz Lang (playing himself).
While filled with playful cinematic references, Le Mépris is perhaps Godard’s most emotionally direct film, particularly intense in the long central apartment scene – masterfully shot by Raoul Coutard – in which the fractures in Paul and Camille’s marriage come to seem irreversible.
“Godard’s finest film is a deeply cynical study of the loss of artistic integrity and the loss of respect that comes from it, a warning to every artist who chooses to sell out for financial gain.” David Flint
“The ideal balance between a Godard work’s self-reflexivity and its penchant for the elegiac and transcendent. It’s at once a send-up of the institution of cinema and, somehow, a meditation on love and art’s profound mysteries.” Rielle Navitski
“The schematic beauty of the colours and the detached acting of the actors, in contrast to the lyricism of the music, make Le Mépris an obsessive story.” François Jost