Jean Luc-Godard’s Contempt is a film about the never-ending strain of a couple’s relationship from love to ruins. Contempt makes use of cinematography in order to emphasize and tell a deeper story by the use of its beautiful shots and cinematographic excellence.
Several scenes stood out to me concerning cinematography, such as the bedroom scene where the couple lays in bed. Middle focus is used and gives a traditional perspective of the events unfolding. The deep shadow of Camille who is naked covers the face of her “Love”, Paul. Both are framed in quite closely and a deep focus is used allowing a total focus of the entire picture. The use of deep focus is repeated through out the film. Deep focus is a key characteristic of French new wave cinema because of Andre Bazin’s preference and its realistic characterization of events.
Beautiful cinematography and framing is also used in the scene where Paul is about to meet the American producer he is walking along the street which is a shot with a short focal length then as he arrives at the American producer’s building the scene hat began as a short focus, tracking shot that added distance, with a turn of the camera the shot suddenly becomes very flat which is a characteristic of a long focus. As Paul arrives at the building the camera tilts up and then the image of the producer becomes flat but centralized, there is a quality of hierarchy of scale that the producer has as he is above Paul. He exerts a level of control, which is similar to the control that Camille’s naked body has over Paul while he is clothed in the bed. The camera movement following his lengthy pattering continues with a pan/tracking of the producer’s movement. Another significant fact about this shot is the framing. The way the ledge is used plays up the element of theatre. The producer gives us a performance.