Contempt by Jean-Luc Godard, 1963

Le Mépris by Jean-Luc Godard, 1963, 56’42”

Learn more about the film at The Criterion Collection website.
Here are the very first lines of Alberto Moravia’s novel from which the film was adapted:

During the first two years of our married life my relations with my wife were, I can now assert, perfect. By which I mean to say that, in those two years, a complete, profound harmony of the senses was accompanied by a kind of numbness –or should I say silence?– of the mind which, in such circumstances, causes an entire suspension of judgment and looks only to love for any estimate of the beloved person. Emilia, in fact, seemed to me wholly without defects, and so also, I believe, I appeared to her. Or perhaps I saw her defects and she saw mine, but, through some mysterious transformation produced by the feeling of love, such defects appeared to us both not merely forgivable but even lovable, as though instead of defects they had been positive qualities, if of a rather special kind. Anyhow, we did not judge: we loved each other. This story sets out to relate how, while I continued to love her and not judge her, Emilia, on the other hand, discovered, or thought she discovered, certain defects in me, and judged me and in consequence ceased to love me. (Contempt, tr. by Angus Davidson, New York Review of Books, [1954]1999)

And here’s the French translation as well:

Durant les deux premières années de mon marriage, mes rapports avec ma femme furent, je puis aujourd’hui l’affirmer, parfaits. Je veux dire que pendant ces deux années l’accord complet et profond de nos sens s’accompagnait de cet obscurcissement ou, si l’on préfère, de ce silence de l’esprit qui, en de telles circonstances, suspend toute critique et s’en remet à l’amour seul pour juger la personne aimée. Emilia me semblait absolument sans défaut et je crois que je paraissais tel à ses yeux. Ou peut-être voyais-je ses défauts et voyait-elle les miens, mais, par une transmutation mystérieuse due à l’amour, ils nous semblaient à tous deux non seulement pardonnable mais en quelque sorte aimables, comme si au lieu de défauts ils eussent été des qualités d’un genre particulier. Bref, nous ne nous jugions pas: nous nous aimions. L’objet de ce récit est de raconter comment, alors que je continuais à l’aimer et à ne pas la juger, Emilia au contraire découvrit ou crut découvrir certains de mes défauts, me jugea et, en conséquence, cessa de m’aimer. (Le Mépris, tr. Claude Poncet, Flammarion, [1954]1989)


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