Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The first sequence in "Contempt"

When we watched Contempt as a class, I had never seen it before or knew the storyline. I am quite happy I can into the experience from an open perspective. The first scene in the film is a love scene. This is the only time we see Paul and Camille enamored with each other. Though this scene was only added because producers demanded more nude scene from Bardot, I think it truly helps balance the rest of the film to come. My reading of the film is enhanced by being able to see both aspects of their relationship: the love that came before the contempt. What I also find exquisite about this sequence is Godard's chose in adding color filters to different segments. He begins with a red filter, and then moves to white/polychrome and blue. 


 WHITE (polychrome)


The shift between each filter is unexpected, and manages to add new dimension to the scene. When the red filter disappears, Camille becomes exposed and our eyes are allowed more voyeuristic access. These three colors also make up the domestic space Paul and Camille share.  Godard fills their apartment with vivid primary colors against white walls. In the apartment scene, Camille uses a red towel while Paul wears a white one. When the story moves to Capri, Prokosch has a blue couch, a change from the red one in Camille and Paul's apartment. The decision to repeat these colors is interesting. Red mimics passion, white is neutral and blue represents coldness. Godard uses these colors to reminds us of the emotions of the characters both past and present, as well as how their relationship evolves. By the time Camille gets to Capri, she's lost all of her passion for Paul,  being replaced by her cold feelings towards him. Though the first sequence doesn't exhibit what will happen in the future, it does give us a hint by moving the lens colors from the initial red to blue. 

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