Sunday, March 29, 2009

Group Post #4 - Nik, Sam, and Michela

Contempt is a movie with a dynamic sexuality, and a movie with a strong inclination to narcissistic display. Do you agree that the scene with Camille and Paul celebrates desirability by utilizing the "visual dimensions" that Bersani and Dutoit discuss in their article "Forming Couples: Godard's Contempt"? Does the fact that Camille's whole body never occupies the screen disrupt the classical cinema's conventions about female sexuality? If not, what effect does this use of negative space create with respect to the sexuality in the film?

In their article "Moving Pictures," Silverman and Farocki discuss the concept of "high art" in the recreation of Rembrandt's Nightwatch as interpreted by Jerzy in his film-within-a-film. How does this painting translate into "filmic terms," and do you agree with Silverman when he says that the mobile camera "releases figures from their frozen poses" and thus invades the high art? In addition, how does the purity of the art that Jerzy is recreating contrast with the raw sexual passion inherent in the lives of the actors and filmmakers (and mainly Jerzy) off set? On a different note, what did you think about the way Godard purposefully offset the diegetic sound of conversations and the visuals of people speaking, creating a disunity between auditory and visual and disorienting the viewer?

In "The Gaze and the Limit", Restivo asserts that L'Eclisse "posits a gaze that exists on the 'far side' of the visual field presented." How does this change the way we perceive the film as a whole, and specifically the relationship between Piero and Vittoria? He also asserts that the "eruption of the gaze is in some way related to the disruptions of stable subject positions within the world" of the film. How does this translate to the diegetic portion of the film (such as when Piero and Vittoria make out in the brokerage) and the final sequence of the film, in which the diegetic structure and focus of the gaze are completely disrupted through the disappearence of the film characters? How does this figure in with our definitions of "traumatic" and "sublime"?


  1. The opening scene of Comtempt is a highly sexual one, and although Godard does not shoot the scene in a conventional manner, the conventions of classical cinema related to female sexuality are still very much present. When Camille asks whether Paul likes different parts of her body, we would expect that the camera might highlight each part as she mentions them. Instead, as Bersani and Dutoit point out, the camera instead seems to have a mind of its own, showing different parts of Camille at different times, and never her entire body at once. A classic sexual scene that we have previously discussed is that of striptease, where anticipation is built towards seeing the nude body. Since the camera in the scene from Contempt does not follow a conventional pattern, attention is drawn to a type of verbal striptease, as Camille gets to the more sexual parts of her body. Although the camera does not follow her words, a similar effect is achieved. Interestingly, where a traditional striptease ends with the naked body, Camille ends by asking about her face, a less sexual part of her body. Paul replies that he loves her face and that he loves her, totally, adding an unexpected romantic tone to the scene that goes beyond just sexual desire.

  2. I'm not sure if I would say the opening scene of Contempt disrupts cinema's norms of feminine sexuality, but it most certainly disrupts our scopophilic tendencies. She is on display for Paul, stretched out on his bed in front of him, and we desire her to be on display for us as well, with our voyeuristic intentions. However, this in a way is disrupting the typical idea of feminine sexuality in cinema, for it is this voyeurism that usually characterizes the appearance of femininity in a film.

  3. I would usually feel that by dividing a woman's body into parts, each part becomes a little decontextualized. But i think that this decontextualization of the female body can also increase its possibility for being objectified. Since you "can't tell" that each part is actually a part of a greater being, then you watch each part as if they were objects. I think this can be seen in classical Hollywood when a leg or ankle or neck is shown, it kind of makes each body part into a fetish. I feel that in Godard though, because Camille asks Paul to look at her body through the mirror, that she creates a sort of distance that may break down this subject/object relation. Also the use of filters kind of makes it obvious that the scene isn't "real" (the real world doesn't have a red or blue filter on it..)
    But is it me or the red filter kind of makes that scene look even sort of pornographic? The color is just so intense