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, Amazon.com
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.