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Commentaries on this disc:
Film historian Robert Stam
Rating:7.7/10 (7 votes) [
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Reviewed by colinr on March 7th, 2007
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One of my very favourite commentary tracks, this time for in my opinion Jean-Luc Godard's best and most accessible film. This, like Solaris was for Andrei Tarkovsky, is really the film to start with when beginning with Godard. The commentary says it was his attempt to made a studio film, with widescreen, colour, Brigitte Bardot (and her bottom!), stunning locations and a simple 'end of a relationship' plot. Yet this film is so much more: a discussion on filmmaking and its limitations when faced with the reality of funding and scriptwriting (and actors, and locations etc, etc!).
Robert Stam uses his commentary track to introduce Godard's signature fragmentary editing style and use of score overpowering characters dialogue. Although Criterion had released some of Godard's films before and since they released Contempt, only this film has a commentary and so a lot of discussion of Godard's career, his relationship with Fritz Lang who he cast in this film, is also included, as well as discussion of how Contempt adapts The Odyssey and the numerous film references that occur.
Stam puts across his points in a clear and consise manner and provides an extra layer of understanding that reallys helps to appreciate this complex film more (for example the opening scene with Bardot lying nude on her bed dispassionately asking if her boyfriend likes each part of her body is said by the commentary to be a response to the producers seeing an initial edit of the film and being very upset that Bardot wasn't given more and longer nude scenes! So this satire on the film business being more interested in sex than art was played out in real life - perhaps fortunately so because if it had not been, it would not have given Godard such a great, ironic opening to his film!)
Essential listening (and the film is an essential watch!) for anyone wishing to expand their horizons beyond mainstream Hollywood movies.
Reviewed by zombking on January 20th, 2008
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Contempt is a film that grows on you, so I would recommend that you view the film a few times (as opposed to the usual once that I watch before going to the commentary) before listening to the commentary. I would recommend coming up with your own ideas, and then listening to the commentary to see his own ideas.
This historian knows more than you might think about both Godard and Lang. The differences between these two directorial styles is somewhat integral to understanding the film, and the commentator knows this. He also knows the somewhat odd production schedule of the film, and he comments often on how Godard wanted to mock the Hollywood system.
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