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The body and the book in Contempt

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In Contempt, as in so many of his films, Jean-Luc Godard included several books as part of his mise-en-scène. The nature of these books and their careful placement within the film has been largely ignored by those who have written about it. Godard depicts all of his major characters with books in their hands and uses these books as a way to elaborate their personalities. In addition, the books in Contempt allow Godard to make some general comments about the place of print culture in society and also about its relationship to the cinema. Much as the video monitors in his films of the 1970s juxtapose two different media and show their relationship with one another, his use of books in Contempt contrasts print media with the cinema and with other artistic media to show how all are interrelated. Though working in film, Godard's use of books allows him to show their ongoing importance in Western culture. As objects people have and hold, books possess a unique personal dimension.

Keywords: Contempt; Fritz Lang; Godard; Mépris; books; nouvelle vague

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/seci.1.1.31/0

Affiliations: Department of English, University of Central Oklahoma, 100 North University Drive, Edmond, Oklahoma 73034-5209, USA. Telephone: 1-405-525-3663., Email: khayes@ucok.edu

Publication date: May 25, 2004

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  • Studies in European Cinema provides an outlet for research into any aspect of European cinema and is unique in its interdisciplinary nature, celebrating the rich and diverse cultural heritage across the continent. The journal is distinctive in bringing together a range of European cinemas in one volume and in its positioning of the discussions within a range of contexts - the cultural, historical, textual, and many others.
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