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Contempt (The Criterion Collection)

81 customer reviews

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(Dec 10, 2002)
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The Criterion Collection
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Jean-Luc Godard's subversive foray into commercial filmmaking is a star-studded Cinemascope epic. Contempt (Le M pris) stars Michel Piccoli as a screenwriter torn between the demands of a proud European director (played by legendary director Fritz Lang), a crude and arrogant American producer (Jack Palance), and his disillusioned wife, Camille (Brigitte Bardot) as he attempts to doctor the script for a new film version of The Odyssey.

With his aptly titled Contempt, Jean-Luc Godard embraced the widescreen splendor of Hollywood while thumbing his nose at Hollywood itself. A rebel with a cause, Godard pursues an iconoclast's agenda, using the Franscope format (expertly controlled by cinematographer Raoul Coutard) to undermine the grandeur of widescreen melodramas. The story ostensibly concerns an innovative production of Homer's Odyssey and the struggle of a respected screenwriter (Michel Piccoli) to please a pugnacious producer (Jack Palance), a veteran director (Fritz Lang, essentially playing himself), and a petulant wife (Brigitte Bardot) who's grown tired of their turbulent relationship. It's all pretense, however, for Godard's mischievous (and yes, contemptuous) deconstruction of commercial Hollywood filmmaking, potently infused with film-buff in-jokes, astute observations about love, stardom, and artistry, and enough glossy style to suggest that Godard had mastered the craft he so willfully rejects. Contempt is one of his most accessibly fascinating films. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Disc One
  • New high definition digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Raoul Coutard
  • Audio commentary by film scholar Robert Stam
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • Disc Two
  • Two short documentaries featuring Godard on the set of "Contempt": Contempt: Godard et Bardot (8 minutes) and Paparazzi (22 minutes)
  • The Dinosaur and the Baby: a conversation between Jean-Luc Godard and Fritz Lang, filmed in 1967 (61 minutes)
  • Encounter with Fritz Lang: a short film by Peter Fleischmann (1963)
  • Excerpt from an interview between Francois Chalais and Godard about Contempt on French TV program "Cinepanorama"
  • New video interview with cinematographer Raoul Coutard
  • Widescreen vs. full-frame demo

Product Details

  • Actors: Brigitte Bardot, Jack Palance, Michel Piccoli, Giorgia Moll, Fritz Lang
  • Directors: Jean-Luc Godard
  • Writers: Jean-Luc Godard, Alberto Moravia
  • Producers: Carlo Ponti, Georges de Beauregard, Joseph E. Levine
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: December 10, 2002
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JKPT
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,667 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Contempt (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 30, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Criterion does it again. A wonderful, fascinating 1963 film rescued from terrible, faded prints and murky video transfers and made to look - like Criterion's equally outstanding refurbishment of Fellini's "Juliet of the Spirits" - almost like a brand-new movie; as clean and as beautiful as I have ever seen it. Not everyone will "get" what Jean-Luc Godard is up to with "Contempt", and some will get it but still not care for it - fair enough. He never claimed to be making movies for every audience any more than he claimed to be making them for rarefied elites, nevertheless a broad spectrum of us do understand and appreciate his artistic project (of which this is one sublime outcome), and if you can suspend for two hours the narrow, conventional expectations Hollywood product has cultivated in many of us, that number may include you. Robert Stam's alternate-channel audio commentary provides many interesting insights regarding the significance and filmmaking innovations of "Contempt", along with superb analysis of the sources of the story (in Homer and recent Italian literature) and the performances, and some information regarding how the movie came to be cast and produced, which goes a long way toward explaining why Godard made the movie he eventually made. "Contempt" may be Godard's most "conventional" film, but then art is not only about innovation, but also about mastery. If the performances are not always so subtle they are nevertheless wonderfully nuanced, including that of the great director (and non-actor) Fritz Lang, and Brigitte Bardot - still at the apogee of her Gallic voluptuousness - reveals a depth unimagined by those quick to dismiss her bathtub sex kitten persona - not to mention, most of her legendarily beautiful naked body, in Technicolor and CinemaScope.Read more ›
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54 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Addisson DeWitt on June 21, 2010
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This is,without a doubt, one of the best films ever made by Godard and his cinematographer, Raoul Coutard.
The Criterion Collection transfer is impeccable - sharp focus, well-balanced primary colors, great sound.
The Blue-ray disc (not from Criterion but Lionsgate's Studio Canal label) is a major disappointment on just about every level - especially with the color levels. There appears to be a yellowish cast to everything. No hard reds, blues, yellows or greens.
Skin tones are dull and gray. It seems to have been made from completely different elements, with no reference to the original intent, or even the Coutard approved transfer.
At least it was not panned and scanned, about the only thing in it's favor.
If you have the Criterion version already - keep it.
The "up grade" to Blu-Ray is NOT an improvement.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By andy7 on March 17, 2002
Format: DVD
One of Brigitte Bardot's few high brow films is an amazing modern Space Age parable of the Homer's "Odyssey" in which innocuous writer Michel Piccoli allows sleazy creep producer Jack Palance (his best film, hands down) have his way with wife BB...she feels nothing but contempt for Piccoli for his apathy... I'm with her...the screenplay to the proposed film is supposed to be about the death of romance between Ulysses and Penelope in Homer's "Odyssey", but life imitates art when the romance between BB and Piccoli rots away due to Piccoli's wimpy attitude toward Palance's lecherous advances towards his wife...then again, Palance clearly reperesents commerce......
This is a superior film to "Breathless", IMHO, .. the film is total eye candy, if not due to the awesome BB, then by the gorgeous locations...
Godard really deserves more credit, he's a consummate filmmaker......Breathless, Alphaville, First Name Carmen, Band of Outsiders...
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Andrea Choe on September 26, 2004
Format: DVD
Camille: "Then you love me totally."

Paul: "I love you totally, tenderly, tragically."

Such is the story of Camille and Paul, whose lives we watch slowly unravel in tender tragedy. This is a movie to be watched and to be felt; to be understood by the part of you that has struggled to change an unchangeable love or the part of you that has felt the urge to desecrate your own life simply out of restless need to feel something new or understand something raw.

To begin with, Godard takes insoluble feelings of love/hate/restlessness/desire/contempt and weaves it under a thin layer of lives, which as you watch, cannot be seen directly but is clearly felt. He foregoes standard cinematic technique/storytelling criteria as he drops changing color filters over Bardot's introductory nude scene and compares the raging emotions of man against the widescapes of the still ocean and skies (as is seen in particularly breathtaking shots rotating around Greek statues with eyes painted in bright red against a backdrop of bluish white skies and a tortuous finale to which Godard himself yells "Silence!" and cuts to the motionless sea).

On top of this, the musical score done by Georges Delerue has been called the most beautiful score ever heard. It is repeated throughout the movie and it comes and goes unpredictably, like the asthmatic attacks that life often unveils at times not necessarily warranted. Altogether, this movie is an honest replication of feelings that course through all of us during the best of times and the worst of times.
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