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Contempt


chrtbsh
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Just a warning for people waiting to see this film tomorrow night. The master arrived today from the distributor and it's in pretty bad shape. We've been promised a better version for future airings, but for now this is the best that's available.

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Thanks for the info. I was researching an article about this film, but I didn't feel I had the time to finish. Glad I didn't now. There's nothing worse than building something up and not meeting expectations. So much of CONTEMPT's allure is in its striking visuals, color, and camera movement. A poor print of the film would hurt its effect.

 

BTW, that print you guys showed of THE TRIAL (1963) yesterday was amazing! I have never seen the film look better.

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A big thanks from me too. I think it's a great idea to let us know in advance when you foresee a problem like a poor quality master or wrong version, etc. I hope you keep doing it. I think most folks are more understanding if they know in ahead of time about these things.

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Why wasn't the restored master that Criterion used for its DVD available, since it presumably belongs to the copyright holder, and not Criterion?

 

I love the film's first half hour; Jack Palance as dull-witted, egotistical producer Jeremy Prokosch is hilarious, as is Fritz lang (as himself), commenting about the epic film-within-a-film he's trying to make despite Prokosch's interference.

 

And the behind-the-scenes look at Rome's great Cinecitt? Studios, where QUO VADIS, BEN-HUR and CLEOPATRA were shot is invaluable, especially since a significant part of the original studio lot has been developed for housing and other commercial purposes over the years. If you look closely, you can spot some fragments of the old QUO VADIS sets in the scene docks as the characters walk through the studio streets.

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I just saw some of TCM's airing of Godard's CONTEMPT, and the transfer was even worse than I feared. I really recommend any and all interested parties to rent or buy the Criterion DVD to see how the film is really supposed to look and sound. Not only was the telecast of a seriously overscanned, fuzzy, washed-out pan-and-scan transfer, but it had the English-ubbed soundtrack in which one doesn't even get to hear Fritz Lang speak in his own voice (mostly in English), as one does on the subtitled original French-language track (both tracks are available on the DVD.

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Hey CineSage

I appreciated the warning given and was expecting poor quality anyway, but having never seen Contempt, I was anxious to watch it regardless. It survived even this print. I do look forward to the Criterion dvd or the better print TCM has been promised for future showings. What a great movie. I did constantly wonder in viewing what a letter-boxed, decent print might look like. I know my enjoyment will increase by many degrees but I'm glad I watched tonight.

One question : when Camille tosses her robe and throws it back at Paul, Camille is offscreen. This being pan-and-scan, what was in the original frame? From the commentary, I did find it ironic that the nude scenes with Bardot were insisted upon by Ponti and Levine over Godard's objections. I thought that opening scene worked very well though, establishing a how-it-was-before leading into what followed.

RO, RO, no eroticism? I think that scene was the most erotic I'd seen since Stewart and Reed in It's a Wonderful Life. :)

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Tobiz,

 

In the original widescreen Camille is not seen when she tosses her robe.

 

I discussed the opening scene a bit in the Foreign section thread here:

 

http://forums.tcm.com/jive/tcm/message.jspa?messageID=8077560#8077560

 

I'm glad you enjoyed the film. I'm a bit disturbed to hear it was in Pan & Scan though. This film really NEEDS the widescreen process as it is used to manipulate space and even show the gulf between Camille and Paul. The DVD from Criterion is in the true aspect ratio and looks wonderful.

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Thank you, Arkadin, for the info and the link. I thought it only made sense that she not be seen (seeing the robe thrown back at Paul without Camille in the frame illustrates the point also), but since it was shown in pan-and-scan, I couldn't be sure.

I'll check out your comments in the Foreign forum.

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Very unusual for TCM to show a bad print like that. Normally we can rely on full-screen, non-dubbed, etc ... that's why TCM programmer came on with the warning, I watched a bit but will wait for the better cut ...

 

Palance was a bit over the top and was funny, yes, but I don't think he was right. He seemed as if acting in a skit. The key to that role is too find an actor will appear to be serious but come across as over the top. Palance looked like he was trying to be funny. Maybe it's the dubbing ...

 

Interesting that Godard tacked that beginning on for the studio. I was thinking at the time that we were supposed to be learning something vital about their marriage and specifically about Camille.To find out that the scene is not Godard's sinks puts a damper on that idea. RO thinks the scene non-erotic because there is no love making (I guess), but it's not erotic for another reason, at least for me. She comes across too much like a spoiled child who has to be admired every single minute.

 

I have a VHS of this, must be from Bravo or something because this was a TCM Premier. Better get the DVD.

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To begin to understand the film, one must understand Godard's choice of title. "Contempt" refers not only to the characters' general feeling for one another, but for what Godard wished to provoke in his audience -- he literally (I kid you not) wished to drive his very patrons out of the theater, seeing the film as a kind of what is now called "performance art," in which the audience's extreme reaction is an integral part of the cinematic statement (honest).

 

Bob Osborne's post-film "explanation" that Godard wanted to go back to doing more intimate projects over which he had more control is a kind of smoke-screen: obviously, a director who deliberately sabotages the boxoffice potential of his films (now there's an idea for a movie!) is of no use to producers like Ponti and Levine. I seriously doubt that, after CONTEMPT, Godard received many offers from well-financed producers to direct much of anything).

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>Bob Osborne's post-film "explanation" that Godard wanted to go back to doing more intimate projects over which he had more control is a kind of smoke-screen

 

Well, it sounded good anyway. ;)

 

Hi Cinesage

 

What did I say to draw such a meaty response? I guess it doesn?t matter who plays the movie director or whether Bridget (did I spell that right?) is sexy or not, so long as the patron walks out of the theater ;) I wonder how disappointed he was if there was anybody left afterwards. As absurd as the idea sounds I still believe you (honest) though naive as I am I would have thought he might have been just as happy with simply **** us off. Hmm, I wonder if anyone ever asked for their money back. At least today all we have to do is simply turn the channel or take the DVD out of disc drive, chalk it up to experience, and put it back in the red envelope. Bear with me because I?m being a little facetious, I'm not much into Godard and frankly I don't know what the hell he's trying to do, but your post has aroused my curiosity (no kidding) even more about seeing this movie. After reading what you wrote I was tempted to read reviews on Netflix and IMBD but I can?t do that and then turn right around and see the movie. I would rather see the movie before any of that. Seriously, thank you for writing what you did. I will keep it in mind.

 

Just curious, how does Micheal Hanake square with the idea of ?performance art,? in your opinion? Hanake certainly seems to want to provoke audience reaction, so much so, in fact, that in Funny Games he has the actors turn to the camera and speak to us. Maybe the title here refers not only what games the bad guys are playing with the good guys in the movie but the game that he, Michael Hanake, is playing with us. But Hanake probably doesn?t want us to walk out. He thinks he?s teaching us something about how we, the audience, view violence as entertainment. The rewind scene is, all at once, outrageous, hilarious, and yet maddening, unfair, and grossly manipulative. But I don?t think anyone walks out, or maybe they do (see below). It?s probably not performance art, or is it? I really don?t know. I'm still a little murky on that.

 

I?m probably not a good subject for Hanake because I don?t care for violence. The only way I got through Funny Games (the ?98 version, I won?t watch the new one) was by sheer determination. I ordered three or four Hanake films from Netflix and I wanted to get through them. I thought the film horrible. I knew nothing going in and would probably have ?left the theater? after realizing what has actually happening. It can be easy to dislike Hanake in some respects but he sure comes across likable in those interviews that come the DVDs.

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Cinecage,

 

oh myyyyyy u are so talented..lol....how about BRIDGET BARDOT IS TOTALLY GORGOUES!!! With and without her clothes on...is that closer on the mark for ya......give me a break....i am SURE everybody understood what i meant without YOUR corrections...lol.. and sarcasticness!

 

AvaG

 

Message was edited by: AvaG92260

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The print of Contempt that TCM aired never should have been used. It would have been better to have scheduled something else in a pinch. I have never seen a worse print in 40 years. It was an insult to Goddard, shocking because TCM's staff is supposed to hold to the highest standards. I recently rented the Criterion DVD from Netflix and it was perfect in all ways.

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James,

 

Did you see the original post that started this thread from TCMProgrammr warning that the master arrived late and the print that the distributor used to make the master was in bad shape?

 

They are at the mercy of what the studio or distributor ships them. In cases like this, they make every attempt to get a better print for subsequent airing.

 

If I read properly what TCMProgrammr wrote, a better print will be available later this year for us all to enjoy.

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Hi Cinesage

 

What did I say to draw such a meaty response? I guess it doesn?t matter who plays the movie director or whether Bridget (did I spell that right?) is sexy or not, so long as the patron walks out of the theater I wonder how disappointed he was if there was anybody left afterwards. As absurd as the idea sounds I still believe you (honest) though naive as I am I would have thought he might have been just as happy with simply **** us off. Hmm, I wonder if anyone ever asked for their money back.

 

I must make a bit of a confession, Lafitte, in that there are times when I feel that, in this, Godard and I are somewhat kindred spirits.

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I'm definitely embarrassed about the quality of the print and we are planning to air a much better version later in the year. Perhaps we should have changed the schedule - as I said in the original post, the tape didn't arrive until Saturday and was playing on Sunday night. I knew it was in bad shape (which was the reason for the warning) but didn't know how bad. You're correct that Criterion has a beautiful master but they don't own the television rights to the film. However, we will work on obtaining that version for a future play.

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When are you finally going to dig deeper into the pre-1948 Paramount package and give us FIVE GRAVES TO CAIRO, IF I WERE KING, and THE LIGHT THAT FAILED[/i]?

 

And the 1950s-'60s Paramount package that includes SECRET OF THE INCAS, OMAR KHAYYAM and CRACK IN THE WORLD?

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