“Cinema substitutes for our gaze a world more in harmony with our desires.”
Le Mépris (Contempt) is a Franco-Italian film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, starring Brigitte Bardot and Michel Piccoli.
Jeremy Prokosch (Jack Palance) is an American film producer who wants to make a film adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey and thus hires Fritz Lang (playing himself). Displeased with Lang’s artistic approach, Prokosch wants to hire a French play-writer, Paul Javal (Piccoli) in order to finish the script and perhaps render the film into a commercial success. While we see how the artistic and commercial clash progresses, we also witness how Paul’s relations with his wife, Camille (Bardot) are in a crisis.
One of the most characteristic cases of a film within a film, this one deals with Godard’s theoretical aspects on life and art (as expressed by Lang) as well as with the practical difficulties that a couple may face. Bardot has a double role: she embodies Godard’s view on woman and also gives him the opportunity to criticize how american cinema tends to attract the audience.
One of the most obvious examples of that is the film’s opening scene, which is a three-minute close-up of Bardot’s naked body. This sequence was filmed after the film was completed, because American producer Joseph Levine definitely wanted Bardot’s… derriere to be present, believing that this would boost viewers’ numbers. Godard gave Levine what he wanted, by filming an impressing approach of the female body, through the eyes of the (man) viewer.