Le Mépris: Godard’s masterpiece still smoulders after all these years

Brigitte Bardot, right, and Jean-Luc Godard, left, on the set of Godard’s ‘Masculin-Feminin’ in 1965. (AFP)
Updated 09 May 2018
0

Le Mépris: Godard’s masterpiece still smoulders after all these years

  • Godard proved a master at thrusting bare-faced Marxist ideology onto cinema screens
  • With “Le Mépris” Godard also proved a master manipulator of human emotion

ROTTERDAM: Director Jean-Luc Godard is a master of many things. With his stylish, noir-ish debut “Breathless” (À bout de soufflé, 1960), he was established as the French New Wave’s master of moody, monochrome, cigarette-sucking, fedora-touting cool.

With his later, post-1968 protest works, Godard proved a master at thrusting bare-faced Marxist ideology onto cinema screens. And throughout his entire six-decade career, Godard has proved a master of tearing up the rulebook — pioneering a fiercely original, cerebral, grainy, jump-cut, narrative-free and often impenetrable approach which best embodies every cliché, good or bad, about so-called arthouse cinema. 

But with “Le Mépris” (Contempt), which turns 55 in December, Godard also proved a master manipulator of human emotion. I recently had the chance to re-watch this 1963 masterpiece on a big screen. It’s a film I’ve seen perhaps a dozen times before, but even anticipating every bitter conversational turn and faux-profound witticism, the emotional rigor of Godard’s sixth picture remained undiminished. I left the cinema in a nervy but electrified state, needing an hour in a quiet café to steady and appreciate the tragic freewheeling chain of thoughts unravelling. 

Michel Piccoli plays a French scriptwriter, recently arrived in Rome to sell his soul, and maybe his beautiful young wife — a timeless turn from Brigitte Bardot — to a crass American movie producer (Jack Palance) making a narcissistic version of Homer’s “Odyssey.” With stately satire, German expressionist master Fritz Lang, of “Metropolis” authorship, plays himself as the project’s cynically aloof director. 

A movie about moviemaking, but also about love. And hate. The breakdown of Piccoli and Bardot’s marriage — over a single, real-time, 31-minute conversation, inside the claustrophobic, barren walls of their new apartment — is the film’s emotional core, a stunningly virtuoso second act of three. 

But there’s so much more to chew on: “Le Mépris” is about Greek gods and movie goddesses. About integrity, lust and power. About America and postwar Europe. About the poetry of Technicolor sunlight. “Le Mépris” is about humans — and how vicious, cruel and transactional we truly are.


Startup of the Week: ‘What comes naturally: Organic soaps head to Jeddah’

Updated 22 July 2019
0

Startup of the Week: ‘What comes naturally: Organic soaps head to Jeddah’

  • The brand offers 100 percent organic products

Organic skincare methods have always proven reliable. Lora, an organic skincare business established by 33-year-old Saudi entrepreneur Hashim Al-Shawi in 2016, understood that although globally many skincare brands have embraced this knowledge, in the Kingdom, there were relatively few.

Al-Shawi, who spent three years in the US, decided to exploit the gap in the market, while creating dream jobs for many of his Saudi contemporaries.

The brand offers 100 percent organic products, including natural soaps made with essence of lavender, olive oil, oud, rose and musk, peels, creams, scrubs and shea butter products.

“Natural oils are the main component in all of our products, which adds quality,” Al-Shawi told Arab News.

“Lora is all about what’s being produced cleanly from the earth delivered to your hands. It is all handmade, and gentle on your skin. We use carefully chosen natural ingredients ready to make you fall in love with them.”

He explained that “Lora” in Arabic means the heart of the bay tree. “This name is used in many cultures, such as Persian and Arab cultures and some cultures in Africa, to symbolize the rose and the female form alike.”

He encourages people to use organic skincare products instead of commercial ones.

“Natural soaps are best used, because we are dealing with skin, the largest organ in the human body which protects us. I encourage the use of organic skincare products to benefit it.”

Lora is working to open a new store in Jeddah in a few months. Customers can place their orders through the shop’s Instagram account (@loragoskin)