Sorry for the gap in these installments. I’m currently in the process of moving my family to a new house and it’s been very busy for quite some time and will remain so for another month, at least. But – on with the movie!
Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) is a secret agent posing as a reporter in Alphaville. He dresses in the classic trenchcoat and fedora, and the city, which is referred to as futuristic, looks pretty much like a city of the 1960s. Most of the territory covered in the film takes place in hotel lobbies, rooms, hallways, elevators, and various offices. Caution says he comes from the Outer Countries and claims he had to cross the galaxy to get here so I’m guessing this is supposed to be far in the future and this planet may not even be Earth.
In his hotel room he is provided with an escort which he refuses, and sometimes people try to kill him and he fends them off. There’s this croaking voice everywhere in the city which is Alpha 60, which I’m guessing is some kind of central computer or A.I. that runs everything although I don’t think the word computer is ever used. Alpha 60 also sometimes narrates directly to the audience, I think.
Caution does finally take a liking to Natacha von Braun (Anna Karina) who I guess is another escort, but they bond over the Bible that’s usually located in every hotel room. Apparently city officials come through on a regular basis and replace them with updated Bibles removing all the problematic words. Natacha struggles to remember the words that have been removed.
There are a couple of pretty interesting scenes, where people accused of crimes are placed on a diving board and asked questions. If they answer wrong I think, they are shot and fall into the swimming pool below. There’s another scene where Caution himself is interrogated by Alpha 60 in a room full of boom mikes. I think they keep swatting at his head just to be annoying.
Caution comes across a fellow agent who has given up on the quest but tells him some information before dying. He later confronts Prof. von Braun (Howard Vernon) who I think is the architect of Alphaville, who he aims to apprehend for some crime. I think the crime was the creation of Alphaville? To be honest I watched this movie twice and found it somewhat hard to follow. Or maybe my mind just wandered.
What we eventually learn is that Alphaville collects people and trains them in groupthink. Those that are receptive to the process become citizens, and those that aren’t are dealt with. Alpha 60 doesn’t understand human emotion so that’s what it’s trying to breed out of it’s citizens, I think. Eventually Lemmy and Natacha escape Alphaville for happier places.
was written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, a French New Wave filmmaker. I admit I know nothing of Godard or the French New Wave and I’d probably appreciate this movie more if I did.
is a private detective character created by British writer Peter Cheyney in the 1930s. He appeared in a dozen or so novels. The character, by the way, is American. I wonder if he was a satirical caricature of Americans like Judge Dredd. For some reason the Lemmy Caution character never made it to film in the UK or US but did so in France. Eddie Constantine, an American expatriate actor living in France, played the character in several movies before this, all of which were set in Caution’s native present day. Alphaville
was Constantine’s final outing as the character and I’m sure it was strange for audiences at the time to see him blasted into the future. I suppose it would be for us Americans like if Sam Spade was the title character in Blade Runner
, played by Humphrey Bogart.
is cited as an early example of tech-noir or cyberpunk. Even though it’s not flashy I can see that the themes are there, ripe for future filmmakers to add more of the futuristic window dressing.