A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
Lemmy Caution, an American private-eye, arrives in Alphaville, a futuristic city on another planet. His very American character is at odds with the city's ruler, an evil scientist named Von Braun, who has outlawed love and self-expression.Written by
Gene Volovich <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Towards the end when Lemmy and Natasha get into their car while all the Alphaville residents are incapacitated, cars can be seen driving past, while the drivers should have been knocked out. See more »
Godard was one of the most brilliant directors to ever make movies. His rebellious attitude and style simply puts some people off, which is unfortunate since Godard's movies are smart, well-crafted and, yes, entertaining.
Alphaville is most often compared to movies that came after it, which goes to show how unique and groundbreaking it was (even if perhaps this has been obscured in hindsight). What Godard achieved is seen best at what HASN'T aged. Anytime you show computers and technology in a sci-fi movie it invariably will look dated years later. Yet Godard's stylized approach looks far beyond the superficiality of Alphaville. For example, the first scene with Lemmy Caution in Alpha 60 shows him monitored with microphones manipulated about his head. The jerky motion of the mics (equipment that isn't futuristic is the slightest) portray the mechanical control of Alpha 60 with cunning insight. The microphones are neither left static nor moved with fluid grace (just as another scene with discontinuous shots of a fight). The ominous, intermittent movements suggest the limitations of this computerized state.
I like this movie in its correlation to William S. Burroughs' fictional world Interzone. Alphaville's Dr. Nosferatu (which translates into the undead, as in vampires) bears some resemblance to Burroughs' Dr. Benway. Alpha 60, the monsterous human/machine computer running Alphaville, functions much as Burroughs' Nova Mob. Concerns over science dehumanizing society are pervasive. The scene where Alphaville executes the poets using water ballet echoes the fictional dichotomy the state has drawn.
"Alphaville" is hypnotic. The continuous use of flashing lights impresses this. The ending is what cracks me up. Ending with Natasha VonBraun (Anna Karina) straining to utter "I...love...you." Is this all Lemmy Caution has faught for, some sentimental tripe? Maybe Godard subtly revised Hitchcock's ending to his second "The Man Who Knew Too Little"--Jimmy Stewart delivers the beyond-obvious line, "Sorry I'm late, I just had to go pick up Henry."
"Alphaville" throws together a multitude of increasingly aggresive styles. After "Le Mepris" in 1963, this movie (if one ever could) shows a transition to Godard's scathing "Weekend" in 1967. Godard made so many wonderful movies each its own treasure. Not that everybody should make movies like Godard, I do wish everyone could make movies as good as his are.
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