Alphaville, A Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution (1965)
“I see: people have become slaves to probability.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
He describes Alphaville as a “computer-run, robotized society where technology has replaced humanity”:
… “where there is repression/murder of all who don’t think logically”:
… “whose women, like the leader’s daughter, Natasha (Anna Karina), have numbers tattooed on their backs”:
… “and function as first-, second-, or third-class prostitutes/seducers; where words such as ‘conscience’ and ‘love’ do not exist in its Bible-dictionary.” He points out that “picture has the novel twist of having a two-fisted tough guy teaching a sensual female the meaning of ‘love'”:
… and he notes that while “the political themes aren’t that novel,” “Godard’s direction is consistently offbeat and fascinating.” For instance, he notes that Godard’s “use of flickering lights (including those from Lemmy’s camera), sounds (including a monstrous male voice on a loud-speaker), ominous suspense music, choice settings…, and sudden, unexpected actions by characters… makes us feel we’re in another world whose look and rhythm are different from our own.”
He posits that while the “film isn’t altogether successful,” it “has moments of brilliance” and features “exceptional cinematography by Raoul Coutard.” He also notes that “the casting of ‘B’-movie actor Constantine was inspired”:
… and points out that Akim Tamaroff, playing “a corrupted ex-agent,” looks “like his co-star in Touch of Evil, Orson Welles.”
I’m essentially in agreement with Peary’ assessment of this unexpectedly provocative, typically low-budget Godard film — one in which, as DVD Savant puts it, “what we see and what we hear are at constant odds with one another”. There are enough interesting ideas explored here, in visually creative ways, that it’s easy to stay engaged; and film fanatics will surely take note of how closely some aspects of this film — particularly the end — resemble (and perhaps inspired) Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982).
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)
One thought on “Alphaville, A Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution (1965)”
Rewatch. Not must-see; only for Godard fans.
The film does have plus factors: DP Coutard (who puts this among the best-looking b&w Godard films); Paul Misraki’s unusual score; production design / film editing; the combo of Karina / Constantine / Tamiroff.
The film itself is just Godard silliness (putting it mildly). Even if you could go for this kind of futuristic secret agent tale, it can certainly be… trying.