Jean-Luc Godard's ALPHAVILLE is a poetic, funny, and visually inspired blend of sci-fi, detective-film satire, and political allegory.
Secret agent Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) enters Alphaville in search of his predecessor Henri Dickson (Akim Tamiroff) and Professor Von Braun (Howard Vernon), the inventor of a death ray. Pretending to be a reporter, Lemmy discovers that Alphaville is a cold and loveless automated society
that's run by a computer invented by Von Braun called Alpha 60. He meets Von Braun's daughter Natasha (Anna Karina) and finds Dickson at a hotel where dissidents are kept until they commit suicide. After seeing Dickson die, Natasha takes Lemmy to see her father. Von Braun's guards capture Lemmy
and he's interrogated by Alpha 60, then given a tour of the computer's control center. There he learns that Von Braun intends to declare war on the Outlands.
ALPHAVILLE is a brilliant satire of an alienated society that has been robbed of its poetry and emotion by science and technology. The film's central conceit--and joke--is that this dystopian futuristic society is actually contemporary France, and the pod-like, conformist mindset of its people
already exists. All of the interiors were filmed in dehumanizing glass and concrete office buildings and hotels, filled with sterile corridors and fluorescent computer rooms. All of the exteriors take place in a nocturnal Paris illuminated only by car lights and flashing neon. The casting of Eddie
Constantine was inspired, as he had established the character of the hard-boiled dick Lemmy Caution in a series of French movies based on Peter Cheyney's novels. With his trench-coat, fedora, cigarette, and craggy face, Constantine recalls a poor-man's Humphrey Bogart, nonchalantly shooting
everything in sight. Raoul Coutard's superbly mobile camerawork and Paul Misraki's excellent score all contribute to a movie that proves that you need neither a huge budget or computer effects to make a classic sci-fi movie, but only imagination.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Jean-Luc Godard's ALPHAVILLE is a poetic, funny, and visually inspired blend of sci-fi, detective-film satire, and political allegory. Secret agent Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) enters Alphaville in search of his predecessor Henri Dickson (Akim Tamiro… (more)