A 50th anniversary restoration of this Godard classic
ContemptFilm Forum (209 West Houston Street, New York, NY) Map it $12
Directed by JEAN-LUC GODARD
50th ANNIVERSARY RESTORATION
Starring BRIGITTE BARDOT & MICHEL PICCOLI
(1963) That's what ex-typist Brigitte Bardot has for husband playwright/screenwriter Michel Piccoli—but why? Does she think he used her to get that lucrative assignment (to rewrite an adaptation of The Odyssey) from overbearing American producer Jack Palance (“I like gods. I know exactly how they feel”)? Was it that (innocent) fanny pat to multilingual interpreter Giorgia Moll? Or does she just “not love him anymore?” New Wave wild man Godard, given international stars, a best selling novel by Alberto Moravia, two high-maintenance producers (Joseph E. Levine and Carlo Ponti), and the biggest budget of his career, still succeeded, as usual, in overturning the conventions of mainstream filmmaking, while producing a meditation on post-Hollywood filmmaking; the pitfalls of international productions; CinemaScope (“only for snakes and funerals,” chortles Lang); imposing modern psychological interpretations on classical themes; and Bardot’s derrière. From the beginning, as Godard’s voiceover recites the credits and his cameraman Raoul Coutard films at Rome’s Cinecittà; Piccoli meets Palance amid endless side-tracking shots; Lang (playing “Fritz Lang”), in the screening room, casually switches from English to French to German—with a Prego thrown in—as Giorgia Moll simultaneously translates (sometimes with a twist) for monoglots Palance and Piccoli; and a studiedly fake death scene; we’re obviously in Godardland. But a tour de force 30-minute sequence that never strays from the Bardot/Piccoli apartment, with the couple hashing over their problems in seeming “real time” amid carefully complex mise en scène, could fit easily into a Bergman heart-searcher. (Although Piccoli also sports a cigar and hat in his bath in homage to Dean Martin in Some Came Running.) Godard’s most sun-splashed production, unfolding amid the airiest and most fabulous of apartments and villas, and against dazzling seascapes, with a complex color scheme featuring a retina-searing red - always the same shade - on robes, railings, convertibles, etc. And with Godard himself as Lang’s Assistant Director in the final scene. Approx. 102 min.