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Alphaville

France/Italy 1965. Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Cast: Eddie Constantine, Anna Karina, Howard Vernon, Akim Tamiroff, László Szabó

Subtitled “A Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution,” Godard’s hugely-influential mix of science fiction and film noir was originally called Tarzan vs. IBM, a title indicative of its pop art/pulp fiction sensibility and suggestive of its theme: the alienating, dehumanizing effects of contemporary corporate/computer culture. Lemmy Caution, Secret Agent .003 from the Outlands, travels through space in a Ford Galaxie to Alphaville, the city of the future, where love, art, and individuality are outlawed. His mission is to neutralize the dictatorial Professor Von Braun and destroy Alpha 60, the ruthless computer that demands mindless conformity. Cartoon-balloon dialogue complements the comic-book plot, while the amazing visuals of cinematographer Raoul Coutard render the city of the title as a shadowy, menacing, harshly-lit world of concrete and glass — sort of a Cold War-era vision of a futuristic East Berlin. In fact, Alphaville was shot entirely on location in contemporary Paris, underscoring Godard’s point that the sterile, soulless world of Alphaville had already arrived. “The most influential movie of the genre next to Kubrick’s 2001” (Armond White). “Dazzling ... One of Godard’s most sheerly enjoyable movies” (Tom Milne, Time Out). B&W, DCP, in French with English subtitles. 98 mins.

 

REVIEWS

"It remains an outstanding example of the filmmaker's power to transform an environment through the selection of detail: everything in it is familiar, but nothing is recognizable."

Chicago Reader | full review

"Godard again shows his uncompromising, intellectual, unorthodox methods for a pic that is both piquant and sketchy."

Variety | full review