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3.5 out of 5 stars
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3.5 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 25 September 2005
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. Perhaps in a wider,symbolic sense this is Godard acknowledging that it is preferable that these negative traits and actions ,which are the downside of a liberal, decentralised society, are tolerated rather than succumb to the sort of society envisaged in "Alphaville" ? That there is no black and white only shades of grey ? "Alphaville" certainly provides the viewer with plenty of food for thought.
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on 21 October 2010
Excellent condition, as new, speedy delivery. The film itself is rather arty-farty but it does take me back to my youth when I was very idealistic, into French cinema and enjoying deep meaning new wave films. Still entertaining and pleased to say it is in French with English subtitles - to me, films that are dubbed are an insult to the talents of the actors.
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on 9 February 2016
as advertised, excellent
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on 6 June 2016
Great classic movie and a fantastic price. Unbeatable. Arrived unscathed.
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on 19 May 2007
I am going through a phase of seeking out meaningful movies. The movies of today just don't have that umph, too much cgi and hollywood glam. So i recalled the days when i watch Alphaville. I'm not though, one of those film buffs that understands entirely what the director was ever thinking when he/she did what they did. or shot from this angle etc...But Alphaville simply hits the weird, surreal button every time. But then you sit down and read reviews and articles about Goddard and you start to watch it again, and see it in a different light. Kind of an enlightment moment.

Alphaville is weird and mysterious, not quite explaining where it is, or what the city/town is all about. In a way this is the colour contrast to the black and white media used.

There is a Goddard collection. I bought Alphaville by itself simply for nostalgia, but now realise after watching 'Weekend', that Goddard truely has his head screwed on, and he has a message(s) to tell. This film like Weekend ain't just World Cinema, or Art House, but a back road film, one that isn't shown that often on our soap infested, reality tv drowning and glorifiying news channels because it might make the watcher wake up for once in their life, and think about what they are watching.
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on 30 November 2013
"Alphaville" is compelling viewing. I'm glad I bought a copy because you really have to watch it several times to take it in. The introduction is helpful, and the documentary about the film's development and impact really good at setting the context and explaining some of the themes and threads.

That's not to say the film is perfect. Quite how the hero, Lemmy Caution, manages to successfully achieve the things he does when broadly speaking he's just one man against the system, stretches credibility. I can't help wondering how he'd have fared in the totalitarian regime of George Orwell's '1984' - which is one source of inspiration for 'Alphaville'. Although, to be fair, you could probably level this accusation at most of the other spies; P.I.s and detectives in fiction.

Also, some things seem to happen without a set-up - generally when the hero is attacked by henchmen a couple of times. Although these action sequences are supposed to come out of the blue - like in James Bond films from around the same time - at least they had some short set-up to which the fight sequences are the pay-off. Just the occasional menacing henchman slowly walking up to the en suite bathroom/phone-booth /lift would have done.

Though to be fair, Goddard isn't really that kind of film maker or storyteller. He has other fish to fry. And the compensations include enjoyably bizarre imagery, like the hotel prostitute (or 'seductress') randomly having a sexy bath whilst seemingly unaware of the two tough guys punching the living daylights out of each other in the same en suite bathroom. And possibly the most arty car park punch-up ever committed to cinema. And just why do state executions need to be conducted at a swimming pool?

The film's strengths lie in the themes of the power of words and legends. In the city of Alphaville, hotel bibles are really dictionaries which are republished at regular enough intervals to get rid of words. Rather like the regime of Big Brother, it seems Alpha 60 thinks that by destroying words, it can destroy ideas; thoughts and feelings. The film even begins by saying, (and I'll paraphrasing here): "Words cannot describe everything. This is where legends are formed. We form the world through these legends."

This is where Lemmy Caution comes in. Originally a Philip Marlow-esque character from pulp thrillers written by the British Peter Cheyney. He then started to appear in popular French films, starring Eddie Constantine, who plays the character in "Alphaville" - the same character, inexplicably turning up out of his place and time, in a totalitarian city in another galaxy in the far future. What would be its equivalent? James Bond, played by Sean Connery, rocks up in '1984'? Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes arrives in "Elysium"? John Thaw's Inspector Morse in "Blade Runner"? (surely that would be melancholy amplified - truly cinema to slit your wrists to).

Yet Lemmy Caution is - in his own pulp way - a legend. It could have been Bond; or it could have been Hercules, or Robin Hood or King Arthur. He's come to try and save his friend, and slay the monster.

As many Science Fiction films reluctantly testify, nothing seems to age faster than the future. Yet Goddard's film-making approach leaves it faring better than expected. The use of real locations in and around the then new modernist buildings of Paris, and the retention of early sixties fashions makes it strangely undated. We now know that fashions are cyclical. We might call it atomicpunk, but there's nothing wrong with that. Maybe the future will look atomicpunk. In one scene Caution is asked why he is using a 1965 design camera. "I distrust modern technology" he says. No one who owns a smartphone could disagree with him.

It's a great film that stands up well. You'll want to watch it again and again.
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on 10 August 2014
A film that manages to tell a frightening story of the future without recourse to futuristic sets and costumes. If anything, it harks back to the 'film noir' of the 1930's and 40's, particularly in the character of Lemmie Caution who obviously attended the same private eye training school as Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade.
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on 22 March 2014
A trip down memory lane - first viewing since 1973. It is difficult to place this into any genre as it fits several. Delivery was prompt, packaging was such that the item arrived undamaged.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 January 2015
This is the film that inspired the classic Monochrome Set song, and is practically a sourcebook of ideas for subsequent big screen science fiction. Having said that it is really a mash up of classic pulp fiction and other determinedly anti realistic French films such as Orphee and Last Year at Marienbad, so expect plenty of profound or pretentious dialogue. A night time Paris does a decent job of passing for the future city.

I imagine Godard as being quite po faced, but I think he enjoyed making this, it is brim full of imagination and ideas. Some ideas work, some don't but it zips along to the next one. The objectification of women now seems quite crass, and the hero is clearly an elderly psychopath. There seems to be a real Brechtian determination to avoid any semblance of realism, but there is an excitement and vitality to scenes despite this.

I am certainly not a Godard fan, but I do enjoy this film. Despite its wilful pretentiousness, it zips along with energy and imagination, and if you don't take it too seriously there is plenty to enjoy.
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on 10 April 2013
Jean-Luc Godard made many either sheer beautiful nouvelle vague films ao A Bout De Souffle & A Band Apart or at least intriguing films like La Chinoise or female adoration in Une femme mariée, fragments d'un film tourné en 1964 en noir et blanc. All these together with Alphaville are my favourite JLG's. Alphaville is a dystopian science fiction combined with film noir and as the full title reads : Alphaville: Une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution - it is a strange story indeed. Anna Karina is beautiful as ever and Eddie Constantine plays the trenchcoat-wearing agent. The dialogues in this movie are stunning. And especially the question "L'amour, c'est quoi?". What is love ? That question still remains unreplied until today because it must be one of the most difficult questions to respond to. Also beautiful are the real shot locations in Paris. A killer must have JLG DVD and now we are awaiting a BLU-RAY release of this nouvelle vague jewel. Highest possible recommendation.
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