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Le Mépris (Contempt)

Le Mépris (Contempt) (1963)



Average Rating: 8.6/10
Reviews Counted: 44
Fresh: 41 | Rotten: 3

This powerful work of essential cinema joins "meta" with "physique," casting Brigite Bardot and director Godard's inspiration Fritz Lang.


Average Rating: 8.8/10
Critic Reviews: 14
Fresh: 13 | Rotten: 1

This powerful work of essential cinema joins "meta" with "physique," casting Brigite Bardot and director Godard's inspiration Fritz Lang.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 10,206

My Rating

Movie Info

Contempt is the story of the end of a marriage. Camille (Brigitte Bardot) falls out of love with her husband Paul (Michel Piccoli) while he is rewriting the screenplay Odyssey by American producer Jeremiah Prokosch (Jack Palance). Just as the director of Prokosch's film, Fritz Lang, says that The Odyssey is the story of individuals confronting their situations in a real world, Le Mépris itself is an examination of the position of the filmmaker in the commercial cinema. Godard himself was facing


Drama, Art House & International, Comedy

Jean-Luc Godard

Nov 26, 2002


Rialto Pictures

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All Critics (48) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (41) | Rotten (3) | DVD (14)

Possibly Godard's most melancholy film and probably his most beautiful ...

September 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What's the price of selling out? Contempt asks the question of its characters, its audience, and its own director.

April 11, 2008 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Godard has finally dared to get serious, achieving not mock pathos but a perfect tragedy.

March 14, 2008 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Godard sets interesting scenes, with provocative color combinations and a suggestive pictorial flow. But out of it all comes nothing -- or very little that tells you why this wife is so contemptuous of her husband. Maybe he should be contemptuous of her!

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times | Comments (4)
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Instinctively self-reflexive, "Contempt" ("Le Mepris") is one of Jean-Luc Goddard's brightest achievements

October 7, 2013 Full Review Source:

A rich and heady cocktail of the various things swimming around in Jean-Luc Godard's mind at the time of its production.

September 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Who is the Godard guy and how could he make something as humdrum yet full-of-itself as Contempt?

July 12, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily-Reviews | Comments (2)

Godard's self-reflexive meditation about love, marriage, and filmmaking is a masterpiece, which among other things, proves that sex symbol Brigitte Bardot could act.

April 9, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

It's talky and filled with broken rhythms and a running stream of thoughts, and is boldly told in exaggerated stylized terms.

November 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

An expensive international production, but still one of Godard's most personal and most perverse films.

August 9, 2004 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Screw Adaptation and its lack of temerity. Contempt is a meta-movie that places the onus back on the viewer. How are we to sensibly respond, and is there any sense in that at all?

February 15, 2003 Full Review Source:

While Contempt is seen by many as Godard's most "commercial" or "mainstream" film, it is also one of his most emotionally stirring and deeply felt.

December 29, 2002 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

A superlative film about many things, including the making of a film, the break-up of a married couple, and the parallels between the contemporary New Wave world (of 1963) and the classical (Old Wave) world of Homer.

December 12, 2002 Full Review Source:

A powerful, uncomfortable and essential work.

November 25, 2002 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

It is not just the uniqueness of the narrative structure or the boldly original story that make Contempt such a fantastic film, but also Godard's typically original and mind-bogglingly beautiful imagery that make the it one of a kind.

September 21, 2002 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

The star pouts prettily, as always; Palance is fascinatingly evil; and famed director Fritz Lang plays himself with aplomb.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

One of my favorite Godard films.

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

A fine film about the pressures of filmmaking. And it's an even finer film about the tragedy of marital dissolution.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Le Mépris (Contempt)

Le Mepris is one of my more favourite Jean-Luc Godard films, a director who is very up and down in my book. There was a real trend of film within a film films around this time, all the greats have tried it but very few seem to pull it off successfully - Godard is in that few. Ok, so the film dips between two peaks, but getting Fritz Lang to play himself was quite a coup and Jack Palance's performance is brilliant as it is amusing, although I doubt that was intentional. Tongue, I'm guessing, was firmly in cheek throughout though I'd imagine. I think it was a great experiment and it didn't come at the expense of the entertainment value - in fact, it makes you wonder if Godard might just have been a better, or should I say, could have made much better films if he'd had better budgets!? Anyway, I liked this a lot - It's got Brigitte Badot's bare behind in it for Christ sake, what's not to like about that?
January 11, 2012

Super Reviewer

Godard's first major international picture is a visual feast. The use of Cinescope is startling and the colors are so brilliant that they seem to leap off the screen. Godard also utilizes some of the subtly hypnotic camera work that we saw in his previous films. For instance, in one conversation between Camille and Paul, Godard lifts a scene verbatim from 1962's Vivre Sa Vie.
Aside from the camera work, the film is a heartbreaking look at the disintegration of a marriage, the price of selling out, and the constant tug of war between the classical and the modern. It moves at a snail's pace but once you get a feel for it, it can at times be rather touching.
With that said, I feel like Godard missed a lot of opportunities to achieve a genuine catharsis. The ambiguity of Bardot's contempt for her husband places a wall between the characters and the viewer. While I can appreciate ambiguity, in a film which centers on a single relationship I think the audience needs more to run with.
On top of this, Palance's performance seemed to rub me the wrong way. I know that he is the greedy American producer, but his performance seemed way too over the top to be believable.
While not Godard's best, it is definitely worth a watch.
June 27, 2011
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

"There's nothing like the movies. Usually, when you see women, they're dressed. But put them in a movie, and you see their backsides."

Paul Javal is a writer who is hired to make a script for a new movie about Ulysses more commercial, which is to be directed by Fritz Lang and produced by Jeremy Prokosch. But because he let his wife Camille drive with Prokosch and he is late, she believes, he uses her as a sort of present for Prokosch to get get a better payment.

While he became far too self-indulgent later on in his career, from "Breathless" through "Week End", I am fascinated by Jean-Luc Goddard. No other filmmaker of the time managed to toy with the medium as well as he did. When it comes to meta-fiction, self reference, or breaking the forth wall, nobody can quite match Godard. In many ways, "Contempt" is one of his more restrained films, possibly since it was produced by a major studio with renowned film stars and a bigger budget. It isn't nearly as insane or shocking as "Band of Outsiders" or "Week End". However, this forced Godard to be a bit more subtle, as this contains some of his most vicious and biting attacks on the commercialization of art. Godard recognized that the major studio would attempt to bowdlerize his work, so he created a film for them about an artist being forced to compromise for profit.

Past the always interesting self reference, another reason this film works so well is that its possibly the most human of Godard's works. More than ever, his characters don't appear as revolutionary mouthpieces but actual people. Maybe its because he saw a lot of himself in the main character played by Michael Piccoli, but both him and the gorgeous Bridgette Bardot play well-rounded and sympathetic characters. This is just another layer to a complex film, one which poses questions and forces you to devise answers by watching it repeatedly. This isn't my personal favorite by Godard (that is, again, "Band of Outsiders"), but its another constantly fascinating film from the cinema's most restless experimenter.
December 19, 2010
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

Admittedly, I've had a copy of this movie for years but have never gotten through the whole thing until last night. Jesus Christ, was a pretentious piece of shit. I don't think I've hated a movie this much since Jules and Jim. And I've seen Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. Some nice cinematography, Jack Palance's amusing for his first 15 minutes turn as the ugly American producer and Bardot's ass are the only reasons I don't entirely regret watching this movie. (But even her ass got old after a few minutes. There. I said it.) Okay, maybe Fritz Lang too but his appearance aside, there was not a single character in this movie that I cared about. Just a lot of fickle arguments in scenes that go on way too long. The dramatic score had an effect until it got played every six seconds and while I don't agree, this movie fully explains to me why people can hate foreign films. For me, trying to stay interested in this movie was like babysitting a bipolar beauty pageant winner on ecstasy -- I started off kind of interested, was quickly filled with hate, but ultimately finished the job because I told myself I would.
December 2, 2010

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Le Mépris - Die Verachtung (DE)
  • Contempt (Le Mepris) (UK)
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