Alphaville

I apologize for this review being late. I will not make excuses for my obvious faultiness when it comes to posting. I also don’t think anyone is actually listening, so why does it matter?

Anyway here is my next film in the Godard series. Alphaville is a dystopia sci-fi film about a man who comes from the Outlands and tries to take down the professor who programmed a computer to take over the town of Alphaville.  Along the way he meets several enemies and a couple of lovers all of which he vanquishes except for one: Anna Karina who plays Natasha Von Braun the professor’s daughter. The only way that you know it is a sci-fi film is not because of the spaceships or the way they are dressed, but by what they say. I found that to be really interesting. Godard was interested in commenting on the effects of technology that he saw taking hold already in 1965. He was interested in commenting on scientific coldness and corruption. He was not interested in constructing a huge world where the main character moves through in a flying car.

Just like every other film of his that I have reviewed, the film goes about telling its story in a slightly inaccessible and different way than his previous films. In the world that Godard creates there are words that mean different things, for example yes is different from no. There are also words that are banned, so when Natasha is alone with the man she obsesses about them. Also the super computer that controls everything has a voice of its own which is sometimes hard to understand. Once you get into and watch the film again, however, everything that didn’t make sense initially make perfect sense in the end.

Godard captures machines of the 1960s very well. A time when the only people who had access to computers wore doctors jackets and only controlled a small portion of a multi-room unit. He also populated the frame with many light tricks evocative of Metropolis, modernist furniture, and lots of buttons. All of these set pieces add to the atmosphere of the simple story.

This film is an intellectual exercise more than it is an emotional film. The main characters are neither believable nor unbelievable. They are just present in order to have a story to tell in this setting. However the story is suspenseful and the execution great. It should be mentioned with other atmospheric science fiction like Stalker and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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