Alphaville (1965)

alphaville poster 1965 movie jean-luc godard
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 9/10

Interesting concepts, influential

Story and style can be frustrating for viewers

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:   Alphaville

Studio:  André Michelin Productions

Genre(s):   Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):   May 5, 1965

MPAA Rating:   Not Rated

alphaville questioning alpha 60 lemmy caution eddie constantine

I have the feeling I’m being recorded….

Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) has gone undercover as Ivan Johnson of the Figaro-Pravda.  Entering the Alphaville from the Outlands, he must locate a missing agent (Akim Tamiroff) and find Outland outcast (and Alphaville creator) Professor von Braun (Howard Vernon).  With Professor von Braun’s daughter Natacha von Braun (Anna Karina) as his guide, Lemmy learns Alphaville can be a dangerous place and asking the wrong questions could get him killed.

Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, Alphaville (Alphaville: une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution aka Alphaville:  A Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution) is a science-fiction detective film.  Part of the French “New Wave”, the film was critically acclaimed upon its release and is considered influential on other genre pictures.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #25) but it is no longer in print.

Alphaville blended a lot of genres and that blending of genres is what makes it unusual.  It is a sci-fi film, a detective film, and in some ways (not very) an action film.  These pieces come together roughly in the film in an intentional manner and watching it is challenging but also is somewhat rewarding.

alphaville lemmy caution natacha von braun eddie constantine anna karina

Eddie and Anna bring the heat…

The story is very loose.  You know that Lemmy is from the “outer worlds” and you know that there is a conflict between Alphaville and the outer worlds, but other than that, it doesn’t go deep into explaining it.  You learn a little about the people of Alphaville and their views on emotions and punishment, but all the interactions are off (which is pretty indicative of French New Wave).  Lemmy is able to move around Alphaville rather easily despite being an obvious spy and it never feels like he is in danger.  The romance that blooms between Lemmy and Natacha also feels like more of the science-fiction aspect of the story than any true romance.

Eddie Constantine often played the Lemmy Caution figure in films.  He is a decent hard-boiled detective, but even emotes less than Bogart.  He feels very robotic (one of the many similarities between this film and Blade Runner) and detached from the story and events.  Anna Karina is always charming as the Alphaville resident and romantic interest.  I am however extremely distracted by Alpha 60’s voice and narration that he provides…it is gravelly and almost like chalk on a blackboard at points (it was provided by a man who lost his larynx to cancer).

alphaville action sequence lemmy caution eddie constantine

Pretty intense wrestling movie Lemmy…

Visually the movie is interesting.  The film is shot in a noire type style, but the science-fiction and computer aspect of the story (which was modern for the time) play with the genre.  I particularly like the intentionally slowed down and unrealistic fight scenes…sometimes with Eddie Constantine posing in fighting holds and punches.  Once again, it isn’t realistic, but it is intentional.

Alphaville is a unique trip from a bizarre director who never plays by the standard rules.  This adds to the story’s style and telling, but also can be extremely frustrating at points which makes the movie definitely not for all viewers.  Alphaville is an important film and it is odd that it is rather difficult to find now despite the influence it had.  Make a trip to Alphaville…you won’t forget it (for better or worse).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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