Contempt was a very interesting film that played on various elements of mise-en-scene and cinematography.
A prominent element of mise-en-scene that was used was the type of acting. The scene that stood out for me the most in this respect was when the couple was having a conversation from two different rooms in the house – Camille was trying on her wig and Paul was in the bathroom. This scene had such natural acting in it as anyone that has shared a home with someone can relate to those through-the-wall conversations. The camera movement played a large role in this too as the couple is seldom seen together, but most of their dialogue is said with the focus on each character. The acting was also important in this scene as Camille’s nonchalant answers build up Paul’s frustration, causing him to lash out at her later.
Cinematography was played on with the speed of motion in the scene where the couple goes to the theater. There is loud music as the performer sings and people dance. Then, suddenly, the music and singing stops and the camera immediately switches to the audience members – Camille, Paul, the translator, and the director – as lines are exchanged. This was most likely done to emphasize how chaotic the American director’s ideas for the Odyssey were becoming. It also draws attention to the couple’s tension as not long after these switches take place, Paul is badgering Camille asking her why she despises him. The framing in this scene was also just as important as the lovers did not sit directly next to each other in the audience. They sat with the aisle in between them, causing the focus to be on either one or the other. This draws on the new separation that they were feeling. It should also be noticed that Paul sat next to the American director as if to show why Camille would not be sitting next to him.
This movie was very interesting and taught me a lot about mise-en-scene and cinematography.