"Silencio"'s Origin

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Joined: Apr 2002
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Hopefully this hasn't been brought up before, but I read somewhere that Lynch got the idea of "Silencio" from the film "Contempt" (or "Le Mepris") by Jean-Luc Godard, starring Brigitte Bardot. I have never seen the film, but this got me into some serious research. Observe these interesting parallels and near-parallels:

"Silencio" is the last line of both films.

Both films contain dialogue from at least three languages.

"Contempt"'s main character is Camille - One of the main "Mulholland Drive" characters is Camilla

Camille is seen wrapped in a red towel - Camilla is seen wrapped in a red towel

Camille, a blonde, is seen wearing a brunette wig - Camilla, a brunette, is seen wearing a blonde wig

Camille is nude more than once in the film - Camilla is nude more than once in the film

"Contempt" involves the troubles in making a film version of Homer's "Odyssey" - "Mulholland Drive" involves the troubles in making a film called "The Sylvia North Story"

"Contempt" takes place in 1963 - "The Sylvia North Story" takes place in the early '60s.

Camille gets into an early '60s convertible with a film producer who makes a pass at her - Camilla gets into an early '60s convertible with a film director who kisses her

In "Contempt", the audience is shown the text "il cinema e un invenzione senza avvenire", which is a quote by Louis Lumiere - In 1995, Lynch directed one of the scenes in the film "Lumiere and Company", dedicated to the legendary Lumiere Brothers

"Contempt" is a French film, partly made by American money - "Mulholland Drive" is an American film, partly made by French money

The first "Contempt" poster on this page reminds me of the "Mulholland Drive" posters
http://us.imdb.com/Posters?0057345


This just adds yet another layer to the film, just as "Oz" does. I can tell you it was pretty damn exciting finding all this stuff out, and I'm glad I'm sharing it all with you.
Apr 25, 2002 12:08 AM
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Can I assume by the lack of responses that you all think I'm insane on this? I thought the connection was super neato!
Apr 25, 2002 7:14 PM
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Maybe you could assume by the lack of response that this is a pretty neat connection none of us knew, previously?

Darklite, I think we're all just speechless. Know I am. Will have to see this movie or do more research. You've a terrific brain and are a more than welcome addition to the forum, btw.
Apr 25, 2002 8:06 PM
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*sigh of relief* Ok, thanks! I'd love to see the movie too, but it's out of print and nowhere to be found in my pathetic Canadian town. Who knows what else could be found if one of us got to see it.
Apr 25, 2002 11:45 PM
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That's quite something you noticed there. Great discovery!

I noticed that the other posters for that french flick is similar to Camilla Rhodes's (Laura Herring) photo resume. The one that Diane (Naomi Watts) gave to the hitman.
Apr 26, 2002 12:27 AM
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Hey, Darklite, that pathetic Ontario town yer from...that wouldn't happen to be Deep River, now would it?
Apr 26, 2002 5:55 PM
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No, I'm afraid not. I'm about 150 miles southwest of it. I had never heard of it until MD...
Apr 26, 2002 6:18 PM
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I think you've made a super neato discovery as well, Darklite!

I got the following thoughts after having read an article at http://www.salon.com/july97/entertainment/contempt970704.html.

1. Godard was, like Lynch is, favorable to directing urban scenes.

2. Contempt, also, is a movie about the making of a movie.

3. In Contempt, the dissolution of a relationship also symbolizes the end of a Hollywood era.

This quote reminded me of Lynch's use of color in MD, as well as the way in which very good directors affect the audience with such ... (I don't even know the word), but it brought back very much the kind of feelings I had upon seeing MD for the first time.

[quote]Godard called "Contempt" "the story of castaways of the Western world ... [who] one day reach a mysterious island, whose mystery is the inexorable lack of mystery." Everything in the film evokes a pitiable isolation -- the circular movement of Georges Delerue's sorrowful score, the emptiness of the film's apartments and villas and studios and screening rooms. Shot by the great cinematographer Raoul Coutard in hard reds and yellows and blues, "Contempt" paints its actors as solitary figures bathed in a Mediterranean light that's both pitiless and softening. A stray flashback shot of Bardot running by a lake framed with golden fall leaves is a postcard from a lost paradise.[/quote]

Finally, it was a huge deal for Godard to get Brigitte Bardot as the lead actress. Perhaps she was "the girl."
Apr 28, 2002 9:39 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Darklite
Hopefully this hasn't been brought up before, but I read somewhere that Lynch got the idea of "Silencio" from the film "Contempt" (or "Le Mepris") by Jean-Luc Godard, starring Brigitte Bardot. I have never seen the film, but this got me into some serious research.[/quote]

I think I'm the one who first made the Contempt reference. :-) There are definite broad similarities between the two films. The one I mentioned originally (which is not on your list) was that both dealt with artists dealing with the issue of artistic integrity. The writer in Contempt sells-out (to Hollywood) to support the materialistic cravings of his wife. (My favorite line from contempt is when Jack Palance, as the American movie producer, says to the writer, as he mocks reaming him from the rear: "Whenever I hear the word 'art' I pull out my checkbook".) Diane sells out to Hollywood too, in a different way. Both movies are about people losing their innocent artistic souls. I think Sunset Boulevard is also about this theme.

However, though your list is technically correct, the two movies do not feel similar at all! Silencio (in Italian in Godard's movie) is meant in a different way, with completely different meaning. Most importantly, in Contempt, Godard uses the director Fritz Lang (playing himself) as an example of someone who kept his integrity while still being artistically and materialistically successful in the Hollywood system--referencing Lang's existential rejection of Nazi Germany as much as his film history. In MD we have no such example, and that changes everything. Adam Kesher is no Fritz Lang! The closest we have to artistic integrity is .... Coco. (As Woodlouse poignantly observed, Coco is a model of what Diane would have become if she were not so messed up and had better luck, not exactly a role model like Lang.) Lynch's irreverence as opposed to Godard's ideallism.

Question to think about: How does Wilder's use of De Mille in "Sunset Boulevard" compare to Lynch's Coco and Godard's Lang in the other two movies?

jk
Sep 30, 2002 8:18 AM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by jkandell
I think I'm the one who first made the Contempt reference. :-) There are definite broad similarities between the two films. The one I mentioned originally (which is not on your list) was that both dealt with artists dealing with the issue of artistic integrity. The writer in Contempt sells-out (to Hollywood) to support the materialistic cravings of his wife. (My favorite line from contempt is when Jack Palance, as the American movie producer, says to the writer, as he mocks reaming him from the rear: "Whenever I hear the word 'art' I pull out my checkbook".) Diane sells out to Hollywood too, in a different way. Both movies are about people losing their innocent artistic souls. I think Sunset Boulevard is also about this theme.

snip ...

Adam Kesher is no Fritz Lang! The closest we have to artistic integrity is .... Coco. (As Woodlouse poignantly observed, Coco is a model of what Diane would have become if she were not so messed up and had better luck, not exactly a role model like Lang.) Lynch's irreverence as opposed to Godard's ideallism.

snip ...
[/QUOTE]

What makes you think that Coco is an artist? Or that being an artist that she has artistic integrity?
Sep 30, 2002 1:31 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by ctyankee
What makes you think that Coco is an artist? Or that being an artist that she has artistic integrity?[/QUOTE]

Exactly. Which is why despite the surface similarities, I don' think MD is like Contempt! I cited Coco because she's <i>as close as we get</i> in this movie to a Fritz Lang/Cecille DeMille character... and that's aint' much. (Adam Kesher fails miserably, he's too covered in pink paint.)


jk
Oct 1, 2002 1:35 AM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by jkandell
Exactly. Which is why despite the surface similarities, I don' think MD is like Contempt! I cited Coco because she's <i>as close as we get</i> in this movie to a Fritz Lang/Cecille DeMille character... and that's aint' much. (Adam Kesher fails miserably, he's too covered in pink paint.)


jk
[/QUOTE]

To me the artistic integrity is lost by Adam and by the Screenwriter in Le Mepris. Although, the interest in lost of artistic integrity is something all directors are faced with dealing with.

To understand more about Lang's and Godard's views on this, I would recommend the 30 minute interview 'the dinosaur and the baby' on the special features DVD of Criterion's Contempt.

Btw, the correct quote is anytime I hear the word "Culture" I get out my checkbook ...
Jan 4, 2003 12:29 PM
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i finally got to see Le Mépris!
but i cant find the various threads refering to the comparison (the search engine seems broken today)
i believe there was a thread with stills posted by ct...

ok my first impression is not good.
i didnt like Godard much before, and seeing his masterpiece didnt change my opinion. especially because the movie didnt age well.

but i can see now how this movie is definitely one major reference in MD by Lynch.


i know those who worship the legend will kill me but i want to give some perspective to Godard's overrated fame, in comparison to a true Genius: Lynch. (i feel bad if Lynch worships Godard as well now)

i think Godard maybe films "documentaries", or abstract film essays, or (non adapted) theatre plays... but he cant make movies. he clearly ignores how to express his creativity (which i'd rather call contestating subversivity) through the cinemascope medium.
he'd better direct some theatre play.

i know this movie is 40 years old (i wasnt even born when it was made) and the standard of the Nouvelle Vague were quite innovative for that time. but i have seen recent Godard's work that show no evolution in his mastering of the filming process.

i dont know how deep is his intellectual struggle, but to point at "artistic integrity corruption", "the Hollywood machine", the contradiction between art and money" is nothing new, even back then.


the only great topic in Le Mépris, is the crack in this couple, the overwhelming burden of silence and lies, the unspokable unexplainable feelings that break a relationship within a second.
which is very roughly painted by Godard. repeated scenes, clichés, "anachronological editing", shallow/monolithic characters...
tricks that Lynch uses in MD btw, with much more successful effect!
May 10, 2003 12:50 AM
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I also am critical of Contempt. I personally do not consider it to be Godard's masterpiece or anything remotely close.

However, someone took me to task regarding my criticism and rightfully so, I think.

As follow:

Reducing the movie to that, is to ignore many of the creative
elements of the film. The long breakup sequence at the flat is
inspired. He's perfectly captured the realism of the way two
people disconnect on emotional and intellectual levels.
Paul vacillates too much for Camille. He's too weak for her.
He has trouble connecting with anyone. The dialogue is
very carefully written. Superb.

The camera setups match his previous work. The
camera-tracking motif, the juxtaposition of staccato bits
with long languorous scenes is extremely tasteful and
vintage Godard.

The audition scene in the theater is
very original with a disorienting tracking shot and
jolting use of alternating silence/music/dialogue that
looks inspired to me. (inspired Lynch's MD opening)

The casting is perfect.

The first viewing for me was the worst. After Alphaville
and Band of Outsiders, I felt Contempt lacked
Godard's 'playful' quality. That is true, but Contempt
has a tone of contempt not 'playful'.

When Jerry first meets Paul, who is with Jerry's assistant,
he drives up to them in his sportscar. They converse and then
leave to go look at the film's dailies. (footage)
This shot is great. Jerry jumps back in his car and speeds away
as the camera tracks the other two on foot. Finally the camera
finishes it's movement to the right following the two on foot
AND most of that shot also has Jerry/sportscar driving around
in the background. The two on foot are filmed as the car
is filmed. It's just a beautiful shot that doesn't look
composed.

The mysterious element in the film is Camille, who develops
contempt as the movie moves forward. At one point she tries
to please Paul by modeling a new dress and black wig.
(similar style to Anna/Nana's hair in My Life To Live)

Paul doesn't approve of this change of fashion.
Paul doesn't appear to have any passion for Brigitte Bardot's
Camille. Go figure. He's a weak stagnant writer. She's
a playful typist. In Paul's company, she would rather read
books about art or Fritz Lang.

She alternates blond/brunette a number of times.

The first flashback sequence ends with Paul moving indoors
to use the bathroom. It feels to me like 'When do the flashbacks end?'
Godard gives the flashbacks a real and present tense feeling.
The insertion of those segments are wonderful.

I find that most Godard films improve with multiple viewings.
Hmmm....Lynch films too. -doug
May 10, 2003 4:40 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by bellabuddy
Thanks Harry. This will force me to watch this film again. Perhaps more watching and less reading this time. Maybe your perspective is different because you watch it in your first language?[/QUOTE]

i dont think there are any language subtility that would be lost in the translation. Godard intentionaly made a cross language movie (especially the translator echo scene)

[QUOTE] could you explain more precisely what you think the differences are between the two directors? Is it that Godard's "meanings" aren't hidden enough inside the works?[/QUOTE]

well it is just my humble opinion, but i dont think there are any hidden meanings in Godard works, except relating to his own biography and metaphisical quest.
it looks like a collage of intellectual concepts he didnt even bother to disguise/melt in the movie. (notice the striking banners, the pompuous quotes the producer reads!!! very subtle )

on the other hand: DL is a genius. he masters the message, and the means to transmit it.


[QUOTE]"corrupt" "Hollywood" "art vs. money" aren't worth repeating in your opinion?[/QUOTE]


well it is a valid theme. and was more so at that time. but a movie is supposed to become a fable that will illustrate, not a documentary where someone is filmed reading a political speech from end to end (=exagerated caricature of Le Mépris )
considering those themes, i dont think we can say there is any subtility to instill them in the scenario.

[QUOTE]How much ( or, if so, for what reason ) do you think Lynch believes in making a "movie", or "evolving" in the "filming process"? And would this be at the expense of "telling the truth", or contribute to it?[/QUOTE]

i didnt read any biography of DL, and only talks of what i've seen of his work. the finished artistic end on the viewer side.
his movies speak form himself. there is a tremendous amount of work! in the directing of actors, the writing of the scenario, the composition of the photography, and the subtle editing. everything si carefuly mastered.
i didnt mention "evolving" in direct comparison to DL. i meant LE Mépris is an old movie, and to be fair i kept this in mind to keep the time frame perspective... but Godard is consistant even today, with the raw/rough filming process of Le Mépris. so we can reasonably say it was not due to lack of technic or because of a rising style (Nouvelle vague). he uses digital cam now! lol

well if we are comparing technic styles stricly. this raw/rough filming process we see with Lars Von Trier "Dogma", is way superior is emotion, with same visual poverty.


i dont understand your second question... but maybe it is because of the misunderstanding in the first one.
May 11, 2003 5:40 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by ctyankee
I also am critical of Contempt. I personally do not consider it to be Godard's masterpiece or anything remotely close.

However, someone took me to task regarding my criticism and rightfully so, I think.

As follow:

Reducing the movie to that, is to ignore many of the creative
elements of the film. The long breakup sequence at the flat is
inspired. He's perfectly captured the realism of the way two
people disconnect on emotional and intellectual levels.
Paul vacillates too much for Camille. He's too weak for her.
He has trouble connecting with anyone. The dialogue is
very carefully written. Superb.

The camera setups match his previous work. The
camera-tracking motif, the juxtaposition of staccato bits
with long languorous scenes is extremely tasteful and
vintage Godard.
[/QUOTE]


well i could go into details and give my opinion of each scene u describe. but my comment is unanimous:

lets say the script (or the pitch) is very good. i agree.
but the movie and the screenplay are less than average...

this is the perfect example of a movie where u give a great scenario and great actors to a bad director, u get a bad movie.
it is not enough to use color symbols, dream/psychanalitic symbols, intellectual references, name dropping (Le Mépris is a gallery!), gold casting to make a good movie.

i'd argue about the beautiful dialog... but such a dry/cryptic dialog was successful in other movies.
here it is overrated, artifical, disconnected, anti-spontanous, anti-realist. that is why i refered to theatre performance, where actors exagerate their moves and yell their words for the distant audience to see. those tricks are not necessary in a movie, and can be very annoying if not used to make a point.
a movie is supposed to be fluid, flowing with the images, integrating the silences.
Godard's characters seem to reciting their lines in the air, like if they didnt talk to somebody (even when they are both on screen!)
and this si purely technical, this is not a "style" to paint the isolation of individuals in their own worlds that cannot communicate with eachother... because actions triggers reactions in real life. Godard's characters never express a "natural" reaction to the situation: like a slap, and a head dodge.

the couple of Le Mépris is full of contradictions, metaphisical thoughts, wondering process, self centering (ok, great, that is all good for a deep impersonation), but there not full of life! unfortunately they look like puppets manipulated by Godard's orders instead of their individual inner guts.

that is my disappointment, and my blame.


i agree the "sportscar roundabout" is one of the good finding of this movie (like the empty door, and the bed scene, not the audition scene tho!), a steadycam would certainly improve the effect, but hey it was 1963
but what else does it bring to the movie than a witty visual pun? does it explores Jerry's character indepth? does it setup an atmosphere? does it reveal the story or a mystery? the good scenes look alien in the movie because they contrast.

honestly, what do we know of this character: Jerry? he is archetypal! a pure charicature. this a shallow and blunt anti-americanism joke of Godard's protest against Hollywood. it doesnt serve his cause at all.
compare with Lynch's critcism of hollywood. much more subtle!

i guess Diane is such a character we have so much trouble to figure, because Lynch gives so few details of her personality and most of his hints are purposely confusing (distorted reality, unreliable dream...) but that was the point of the movie! and the rest of the movie, every character revolves around her to "describe" her from the outside.

Jerry is helpless to the couple in the Contempt. he is just a passive substitute for Camille (the kiss) to break up with Paul. he doesnt even play an active part in the movie...

he represents the seizure in the film (odyssea) production, because he wants to change the movie: premise of the movie. this character is simply monolythic, no feelings, not plans, no mystery, no seduction, no ambition, nothing...
May 11, 2003 6:46 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by bellabuddy
Well, you answered to my satisfaction, at least for now. My final question was about whether either Lynch or Godard would sacrifice anything of the truth ( as they perceive it ) to style, except insofar as this "style" better reflected the truth. But here again I think you already answered that, in a way. [/QUOTE]

i dont understand this debate at all. what is truth in cinema???

cinema is all about tricks and fakes in the filming process, and also in the storytelling, since linear timeline, omniscient script is only boring and anti-dramatic.
IMHO style is more cinema than truth itself.

Lynch is doing Lynch's films.
Godard is doing Godard's films.
this is style. one is (technicaly) sensible, the other is (intellectualy) "subversive".

do we want them to tell us the truth? what truth? the truth about their perception of the world? or the truth about their psychoterapy analisis?


well if u only asked the difference between Lynch and Godard, i'd say IMHO, Lynch is true to himself and seeks deep emotion (up to his own limit of understanding), Godard is an intellectual who thinks cinema (like a film critic) before he practize it.

was it the aim of your question? and what do YOU think about this?
May 14, 2003 3:39 AM
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May 14, 2003 3:40 AM
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well the debate i refered to was in another thread earlier. not in your post. ;)

well i am not a Godard Specialist either... i saw the both u've watched and "A Bout de Souffle"... maybe another one i cant remember. but his attitude is quite famous in France.
i cant believe he's got so much film critics behind him tho (they are all from his generation i suppose )

i dont think it is all about Godard... but certainly the "Nouvelle Vague" with Truffaut and others mentored Lynch's education.
it is an interesting conceptual food, but not much of a photography/screenplay/narration school like Hitchcock or Welles...

i didnt notice your hobo comparison. where is Godard's hobo? i probably forgot this movie already (i was bored to death in the theatre of IPOL and forced myself to stay because it was Godard and couldnt be that bad... )
May 14, 2003 5:34 PM
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where are the other threads about The Contempt? i cant find them and the search engine doesnt work
May 14, 2003 5:36 PM
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