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Alphaville [DVD]

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Alphaville [DVD] + Une Femme Est Une Femme [DVD] + Breathless [DVD] (1960)
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Product details

  • Actors: Eddie Constantine, Anna Karina, Akim Tamiroff, Howard Vernon, Laszlo Szabo
  • Directors: Jean-Luc Godard
  • Producers: Andre Michelin
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Studiocanal
  • DVD Release Date: 7 Jan 2008
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000Z63YXY
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,880 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Private eye Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) is catapulted into space and ends up in Alphaville, a city run by domineering scientist Dr von Braun (Howard Vernon). After Caution sees his chief contact being killed, he becomes determined to strike at Alphaville's cold heart: a powerful computer system that stamps out all traces of individuality and emotion in the populace it controls. Director Jean-Luc Godard used contemporary Parisian locations for his offbeat futuristic thriller, whilst Eddie Constantine, as the detective hero, reprises a role he had already played in a number of B-movie policiers.


As the French New Wave was reaching its maturity and film going had evolved as a favourite pastime of intellectuals and urban sophisticates, along came Jean-Luc Godard to shake up every convention and send highfalutin critics scrambling to their typewriters. 1965's Alphaville is a perfect example of Godard's willingness to disrupt expectation, combine genres, and comment on movies while making socio-political statements that inspired doctoral theses and left a majority of viewers mystified. Part science fiction and part hard-boiled detective yarn, Alphaville presents a futuristic scenario using the most modern and impersonal architecture that Godard could find in mid-60s Paris. A haggard private eye (Eddie Constantine) is sent to an ultramodern city run by a master computer, where his mission is to locate and rescue a scientist who is trapped there. As the story unfolds on Godard's strictly low-budget terms, the movie tackles a variety of topics such as the dehumanising effect of technology, wilful suppression of personality, saturation of commercial products, and, of course, the constant recollection of previous films through Godard's carefully chosen images. For most people Alphaville, like many of the director's films, will prove utterly baffling. For those inclined to dig deeper into Godard's artistic intentions, the words of critic Andrew Sarris will ring true: "To understand and appreciate Alphaville is to understand Godard, and vice versa." --Jeff Shannon, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By L. Davidson VINE VOICE on 25 Sep 2005
Format: DVD
Forty years old it may be , but I was mightily impressed by "Alphaville" ,a monochromatic science-fiction/detective/love story directed by Jean-Luc Godard.The plot is not unlike that of "1984" , with Eddie Constantine playing Lemmy Caution, a spy sent to eliminate the creator of a "Big Brother" computer called "Alpha 60" which controls the lives,thoughts and actions of the Alphaville metropolis. Lemmy assumes the identity of a reporter ,meets up and falls in love with Anna Karina's Natasha Von Braun (the daughter of the dictator of Alphaville who Lemmy is there to assassinate) and as he discovers more about the city and "Alpha 60", he comes into conflict with the authorities. The cinematography ,direction and editing of "Alphaville" is mesmerising; every image is full of movement ,inventive camera angles and surreal imagery all combined together into one mellifluous visual totality. This cinematic quality complements the profundity of the philosophical questions raised in the film ,which are many years ahead of their time and are equally relevant today because the symbolic city of Alphaville bears marked similarities to modern Western society;a corporate civilisation which strives for cultural,social and political homogeneity, holds emotions such as love,tenderness,generosity and sacrifice in contempt, and prefers to build a hierarchical society based on logic,science ,censorship and regimentation. However the main symbol of resistance to Alpha 60 , Lemmy Caution ,is a bit of an anti-hero and this adds further depth to the film. While abhorring the totalitarian technocracy of Alphaville , Lemmy is not averse to displaying some of the negative emotions and actions that Alpha 60 was created to eliminate, such as machismo,murder, impulsiveness and self-centredness.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S J Buck TOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 Jan 2012
Format: DVD
Theres no doubt about the directors status as one of the greats, but this will not be for everybody. Partly a film noir movie, with some elements, particularly in the dialog, of sci-fi, and also allegorical references to concentration camps and 1984. This should make an interesting mix.....

However, whilst this might have been in the new wave of cinema in the 60s, it now seems gimicky, in places pretentious, and ended up annoying me. The strange lighting effects, jumpy music and frankly weird goings on are very stylised, which may leave todays audience stone cold.

Its not without merit though. Some of the camera work and photography is superb and there is no doubt that Goddard has created a unique little film here. Whether its your cup of tea will be very much a personal thing.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Budge Burgess on 1 Aug 2005
Format: DVD
Godard belongs to that first generation of filmmakers who could reference the history of cinema - he grew up in a culture which was largely shaped by cinematic reference. The nature of Godard's cinema is the wonder of the cinema - his films are as much about filmmaking as about character or narrative, are told in the language of cinema.
Godard developed a style of remaining distanced, of observing his characters, often leaving them to improvise while he tried to capture the immediacy of their action and reaction. In "Alphaville" - originally entitled "Tarzan vs. IBM" - Godard combines a futuristic, science fiction tale with American gangster noir and the comic book tradition to explore the dehumanising effects of computers and the corporate identities they create. Made in 1965, its vision is extraordinary. While the 'new' technology demonstrated in the film now appears clunky and quaint, "Alphaville" parallels Orwell's "1984" in creating a dystopic vision of the future.
Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) is agent 003, a Dick Tracy character, complete with trenchcoat, felt hat, Zippo, and a .45 calibre automatic. He has come to Alphaville to assassinate its dictator, Professor Von Braun. This is a city ruled by the computer, the Alpha-60, and its scientist creators and neophytes. Politics no longer exists, only the dehumanising logic of the binary system.
Shot in Paris on a very tight budget, Godard makes graphic use of his surroundings, playing with the black and white images and emphasising the ruggedness of Constantine and the striking beauty of Anna Karina.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Munro on 26 Aug 2010
Format: DVD
Alphaville combines all that is best in Godard's early films: his elegant and enthusiastic visual style; his love for b-movie, genre cinema; his slippery, oblique, charming characters and dialogue; his earnest philosophical and sociological ideology; and, most importantly, Anna Karina.

Godard uses the freedom of possibility offered by the science fiction genre to explore the advancements of science and technology in the 20th century, and question whether such a ruthless pursuit of logical perfection hinders the very things that make us human. The city of Alphaville is Godard's Orwellian nightmare, where logical, rational technological advancement supersedes all the unexplainable imperfections of human nature which define the human race, i.e. creativity, impulse, emotion, love, passion... anything that contributes to producing unique culture or art. Godard again using prostitution (as in Vivre Sa Vie) as a de-humanising concept; the most soulless, exploitative and perfunctory of transactions, and an allegory perhaps for all of Godard's disquiet with the technologically advanced capitalist Western world.

All in all, Alphaville is a must for any fan of Godard's early films and, more generally, French New Wave cinema. However it is perhaps not as accessible as A Bout de Souffle or the joyfully exuberant Bande a Part (1964) for those either uninterested in the more serious side of Godard, or new to his films.
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