Watch Contempt

"More Bold! More Brazen! And Much, Much More Bardot!"
  • NR
  • 1963
  • 1 hr 43 min
  • 7.5  (35,458)

Contempt is a 1963 French-Italian drama movie directed by Jean-Luc Godard, which stars Brigitte Bardot as Camille Javal, a woman who has grown distant from her husband, French writer Paul Javal (Michel Piccoli), while working on a film adaption of Homer's Odyssey with American producer Jeremy Prokosch (Jack Palance). The film is widely acclaimed for its innovative take on cinema aesthetics, its subtle commentary on the commercialisation of cinema, and its poignant narrative.

The movie is set in Italy and mostly takes place in an apartment where Paul and Camille live. They are struggling to make ends meet, but they get a break when Paul is invited to write the screenplay for a film adaptation of Homer's Odyssey by established director Fritz Lang, who plays himself in the film. Despite his reservations, Paul agrees to work on the project, and they move to Capri, where they meet Prokosch, the vulgar and pushy American producer who has taken over the film. Here starts a story of betrayal, greed, and the loss of artistic integrity.

Godard, himself a film critic before becoming a filmmaker, uses Contempt as a dialogue between himself and the audience, where he questions the value of the movie-making process on the quality and authenticity of art. Throughout the movie, Godard employs various cinematic techniques to illustrate his point. For example, the film begins with a close-up of Bardot's shoulder and back, as she lies in bed, naked, and with her husband looking at her. This objectifying shot of a woman's body acts like a metaphor for how Hollywood and its producers view women, as mere objects to be exploited.

The use of color is also significant in Contempt. Godard employs rich, bold, and enigmatic colors such as pink and blue, which represent the turmoil and confusion that the characters are experiencing. Similarly, the color yellow is used to represent the ignorance and superficiality of Prokosch, who, throughout the films, wears an ostentatious yellow sports jacket.

One of the most memorable scenes of Contempt is when Bardot and Piccoli have a long and intense argument in their apartment. The scene lasts for about 30 minutes, which is unusual for a movie, but the interaction between the two actors is riveting. The conversation shows how their marriage had failed and how they have become strangers to each other. The dullness and domesticity of their flat are further emphasized, highlighting the contrast between the Mediterranean landscape and the glaring artificiality and commercialism of the movie industry. It is a scene that is both sad and profound, revealing how the business of filmmaking can destroy personal relationships and artistic integrity.

Interestingly, Contempt was also the first film where Godard directed someone else's script, in this case, Alberto Moravia's story Il disprezzo. In doing so, Godard had some parts of the story altered to reflect his vision. He added more metaphors and symbolic elements, such as the use of the sea, which serves as a metaphor for the uncontrollable and erratic flow of emotions.

In conclusion, Contempt is a remarkable and engaging film that examines the human condition, love, and art, and exposes the corruption and commercialisation of the movie industry. The performances by the principal actors are flawless, the color palette and the elegant cinematography are breathtaking, and the soundtrack, composed by Georges Delerue, is both melancholic and powerful. The unorthodox storytelling, the use of symbolism and metaphor, and the message behind the film make Contempt a profoundly moving experience that must be seen by anyone who loves cinema.

Contempt is a 1963 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 43 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.5.

Where to Watch Contempt
Contempt is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Google Play. Some platforms allow you to rent Contempt for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 43 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.5  (35,458)