Tuesday, November 7, 2023

[4K UHD Review] — Le Mépris (Contempt)

Available to buy on *4K ULTRA HD
(* Paid Link) 

To commemorate its 60th anniversary, Lionsgate has released a limited edition 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray™ (+Digital) of Jean-Luc Godard's legendary French "New Wave" classic film Le Mépris (Contempt). The release includes a special introduction by Colin MacCabe, an academic, film producer, and author of Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at Seventy. In this romantic drama, Michel Piccoli (Topaz), Jack Palance (City Slickers), Brigitte Bardot (And God Created Woman), and Fritz Lang (M) all have prominent roles. Le Mépris (Contempt) has a suggested retail price of $24.99 for 4K Digital and $28.99 for 4K Blu-ray™.

It's the first-ever 4K release of Jean-Luc Godard's landmark Le Mépris (Contempt). The 1963 film, based on Alberto Moravia's 1954 Italian novel II disprezzo (A Ghost at Noon), combines a striking visual aesthetic with thought-provoking narratives. Le Mépris is a movie within a movie. The film centers on a playwright (Michel Piccoli) rewriting The Odyssey for an American producer (Jack Palance). During this time, his wife Camille (the legendary Brigitte Bardot) falls out of love with him. Underneath this story of a doomed relationship, however, is Godard's real subject: the commercial cinema industry, which he satirizes in a subversive, darkly humorous, and wholly unique tour de force.

In 2021 and 2023, StudioCanal repaired and digitalized the film in 4K at Hiventy, with assistance from the CNC. The original 35mm negative, sequences from the interpositive, and the reference print that the director of photography for the movie, Mr. Raoul Coutard, had revised in 2002 were all used to maximize the 4K restoration. The StudioCanal team, consisting of Sophie Boyer and Jean-Pierre Bolget, oversaw the project.

Le Mépris (Contempt) is one of those films I've heard about but never had the opportunity to see—that is until Lionsgate released it in 4K. After watching it, I can summarize the movie in one word: artistic. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. To appreciate the plodding plot, you must understand 1960s French filmmaking.

In case you were wondering, the majority of the dialogue in the 103-minute film is in French, although certain actors, including Jack Palance, do speak English. There are also optional English subtitles for those who don't speak French.

To put it mildly, I think Le Mépris (Contempt) is overrated. The cinematography and acting are excellent, but the screenplay is riddled with flaws. Though not meant as a slight to the late director Jean-Luc Godard, the purported love story suffers from his too-visible personal conflicts with the film industry at the time. It's more like the gradual breakdown of a marriage than a love story.

While not my usual fare, I enjoyed Le Mépris (Contempt) for what it was—a story of a doomed marriage. I expected more extras and features for a 60th-anniversary release, but there is only one introduction. Talk about being disappointed; at least the picture quality looked good. ╌★★★½✰

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