This CRITERION edition of "Contempt" gives the cinema buff plenty of causes of rejoicing. Not only does it offer a terrific cinemascope version of the film, but also a lot of valuable bonus material.
Now, into the film itself. One can suspect that European filmmaking is and has been boring and pedantic. Particularly, as regards the Nouvelle Vague, and its author-directors, it seems to be so, on the face of it. But if you make the allowances that should be made and take that for granted, you'll be able to enjoy a kind of art that has enomous values.
Watching "Contempt" one is never sure what its director's intentions are. Apparently, to mock much of the tradicional way the films were made was one ot its aims. Both technically and thematically, the desire to transgress and parody is evident. It is good, nevertheless, to open new avenues to creativity in any field.
This is probably one of the best films ever made on cinema making and couple splitting. Forget our fast-paced and overwhelmingly charged (with special effects) contemporary movies. This is the opposite pole. Something of a play, very well written, and very well acted by most of the cast. We see how a married couple breaks off, because of the "contempt" the wife has been developing towards the man. Many quotations, references to other films and directors (Rossellini, Hawks, Ray, Hitchcock, etc.), an erudite script and creative directorial style are the attractions of this film. Also, Brigitte Bardot, nude at the peak of her splendor, and the opportunity to see the great Fritz Lang playing himself.
"The dinosaur and the baby" is an interview to Lang by Godard. With me, it has been a little disappointing. On the one hand, Godard looks (or looked) like an introvert, a not very nice person. And Lang was at the time an old man, very happy of course of the admiration the rampant youths from the Nouvelle Vague professed for him. Neither of them communicates very well -the interview was made in 1967- and what they have to say is relatively interesting. We'd better watch their achievements as directors. At one point, Lang says, very sensibly, that a director speaks with his films. If he has to explain them away, he is not as valuable as that.
At any rate, this film is a masterpiece, and up to now, the best work for the screen that I've seen relating to the crisis in a couple -forget "Eyes withe shut", for example-. It is enjoyable, too, and you get the desire to watch it many times and know more about it and its makers. So, it is money well spent to purchase this faboulous Criterion edition.