On this 220th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, I’m reminded of one of the great gems of the French New Wave, and one of my personal favorites, Contempt (Le Mépris in French). It’s been forty-five years since Americans first laid eyes on Godard’s Technicolor maelstrom of Hollywood commercialism, power, and art. I don’t have to extol a film that has been hailed as “the greatest work of art produced in postwar Europe.” But to watch the film now (whether for the first time or the tenth time) in the fallout of savage capitalism is to reconsider its beautifully drawn dilemma: how can art survive the onslaught of industry? As with any of Godard’s films, there’s no answer—only puzzles, doubts, and misunderstandings. In the end, art and industry crash.
Bio: Swetha Regunathan is assistant editor of Guernica. Her last article, “Who’ll Stop the Rain”:https://www.guernicamag.com/features/916/wholl_stop_the_rain/ appeared in Guernica‘s March 2009 issue. Read her last recommendation “here”:https://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1122/staff_pick_swetha_regunathan_1/.