Week 6

After sitting through the two hour romantic crash and burn that is Contempt, I was left in awe. The movie was a condensed version of falling out of love. Ninety percent of the movie was a continuous shot of Paul and Camille just talking, not even arguing. Jean-Luc Godard was able to capture the sequence of falling out of love and compact these events into a film that was set over a span of maybe two days.

The scene that stands out the most in my mind is when Camille and Paul are in the apartment and there is obviously an argument brewing. Camille presents to Paul her new look, metaphorically a look that is not the same girl that Paul fell in love with, almost to represent that she had changed. Paul bluntly replies with something along the lines of I like you better blonde and an argument ensues. In this scene especially, I notice how subtitles almost distract from the tone of voice that the characters are speaking in. When I read the subtitles I just hear a voice inside my head reading them calmly, not Camille or Paul’s voice screaming them. Even though there was not much dramatic screaming throughout the film, I had a lot harder of a time judging the characters tones and emotions while having to read the subtitles.

All in all, this movie is written without a firm or concrete plot and is shot very simply with not many effects or brilliant cinematography. The majority of the time it is just Camille and Paul being followed around their apartment, the street, or a cliff and every time they argue and become one more step towards their inevitable separation.



4 thoughts on “Week 6

  1. I really like what you said about Contempt being a condensed version of falling out of love. It is obvious from the beginning that there is doubt in the relationship and probably a decent amount of trust issues, at least from Camille’s side. I also agree that the subtitles could at times be distracting because the tone of voice was really what mattered; it was almost somewhat predictable what they were saying because it’s the same thing over and over. What was happening on the screen was really where the symbolism and deep emotional feelings were being displayed. The characters’ emotions and the framing of the film were so impactful that it almost didn’t matter what they were saying-you could just see it in their eyes or their gaze, or simply just who was in the frame and who wasn’t. The distance created between Camille and Paul definitely didn’t need words to define it.

  2. You are right on point about the movie capturing the progression of a break up between Camille and Paul. From the way the movie starts, the audience should assume that the film would encompass not much aside from Camille and Paul’s relationship. The frame in the beginning captures the couple in bed, and only the couple. This puts them in our main focus. The way Camille was questioning him with a sense of doubt foreshadowed her disconnect within the relationship. From her purchasing and putting on the wig, one can presume that Camille wants some change in her life. Paul’s negative reaction towards her alterations symbolizes his disgust with her actual change of heart. Godard makes it quite obvious that it is only a matter of time before the couple’s relationship is in complete shambles. I had not really noticed prior to your post, but as far as I can remember you are correct in saying that Camille and Paul did not engage in much screaming. Even though they essentially fought the entire movie, it was never just a constant exchange of shrills.

  3. I really agree with your idea about Godard condensing love into one film. It makes perfect sense to me because I feel that it is possible to break the film down into three specific periods of falling out of love. At the beginning, Godard introduces the sort of honeymoon period of love with the bed scene. It is here where the audience first gets to see Paul and Camille’s love. In the apartment scene, Godard introduces the period love in which Paul and Camille are still trying to work things out. Finally, the rest of the movie serves to show the tragic death of their love, marriage and ultimately Camille. It gives the phrase “till death due us part” a sort of dramatic irony as the only time in which Camille did not ask Paul permission to go and accompany Jerry was the fatal one.

    I also agree with your stance on the subtitles, but I do feel that that the dramatic music helps to alleviate this problem a little bit. In either case, Contempt is truly a story filled with deep value on the lessons of love.

  4. I definitely agree that Contempt basically depicts a condensed version of a story of two lovers inevitably falling out of love. The entire film is like a short love poem, conveying a very straightforward plot line; therefore, in that sense, some may see it as being very long and drawn out. However, I find that the very reason many may turn away from the film (finding it boring, bland, etc.) is actually the basis for its artistic appeal – it takes an uncomplicated idea, and on top of it, paints layers and layers of symbolism and motifs as well as allows the audience to psychoanalyze the characters and understand them through the intricate cinematography. Although the dialogue seemed repetitive at points and some scenes were very long, filmed entirely in the vicinity of one place, the elements of each scene actually created the film’s sophistication and identity.
    I also find it very interesting that you pointed out Camille’s changing of the wig to show that she was no longer the same woman that Paul loved nor the same woman that fell in love with him. It comes to show how the subtle details in each scene truly convey the depth of the film, rather than the face-value of the scenes themselves.

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