Le Mépris France / Italy 1963

Sunday 14th February – 3.00 PM

le-mepris

A film by Jean-Luc Godard is always an occasion. Readers may not think that he is necessarily one of the cinema greats: but he is certainly one of the most fascinating filmmakers working in World Cinema. This film hails from the 1960s, the period when he delighted, confounded and upset audiences and critics alike. The starry cast, Brigitte Bardot, Jack Palance and Michel Piccoli, may suggest a relatively mainstream story, but, as ever, Godard both subverts and innovates.

Importantly the cast also includes the veteran filmmaker Fritz Lang. This is a film about cinema set in the world of filmmaking. Lang is directing a version of The Odyssey. Whilst the film does not literally transpose the plot of Homer’s epic poem, there are intriguing parallels with the triangle at the centre of this film.

The Aegean locations were filmed by the talented Cinematographer Raoul Coutard and they look great. Watch for the beautifully executed tracking shots. There is excellent mise en scène and editing: the latter by Agnès Guillemot   and Lila Lakshmanan. There are a series of exemplary shot / reverse shot that have been much copied, including I would think by Michael Mann in Heat (1995).

The film has been restored and transferred to digital. One would expect it to look good and it has the original 103 minutes running time and the French release soundtrack [with subtitles]. It was filmed in Technicolor and on Franscope, 2.35:1. The last time I saw it I loved the sound and visuals and was fascinated as the cast presented this tragic tale.

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