Review: Alphaville


Alphaville is the first sci-fi neo-noir film that I’m aware of.  It is the predecessor for films like 12 Monkeys, Donnie Darko, and Predestination, but it may be closer to Matrix, Terminator and Blade Runner.  Why? you ask…, the theme.  The Theme of this movie and the other three are not time travel but machines taking over and running the humans.  This film is very strange, beautiful, unique, challenging, and trippy.  I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t understand a lot of this film.  I think each person that watches it may take something different away from the experience.  A Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution is the tag line of this film and seems to be a far assessment.

This film is written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, a french director that started directing in 1955 and is still going strong today.  He has made a few noir type films and I look forward to reviewing some of those later on this blog.  This film is filmed in a classic film-noir fashion, black and white, interesting angles and lighting, an odd perspective that makes it interesting to watch.  It takes place in the future in the city of Alphaville, but is just filmed in than modern-day 1965 Paris.  This gives it a unique look, its futuristic for classic noir era, but probably felt old-looking to 1965 viewers.

Eddie Constantine plays Lemmy Caution in this film, he also played this character in 13 other films.  Though I have never seen any of these other movies, they look to range from traditional crime dramas in the 1950’s to musicals to a drama in 1991, also directed by Godard.  This is interesting to me and would like to see a few of these to see how the character evolves over time.

Anna Karina plays our femme fatale, we never know if we can trust her, if she is just a pawn for the computer Alpha 60, or she is working with her engineer father to take down Caution. Karina was married to Godard at this time and starred in many of his films in the 1960’s.

I still don’t know what to think of this film, it will definitely stay with you and make you think.  It may be a movie worth watching a couple of times to get all the subtleties.  I would not recommend this film to just anybody, but if you find the science fiction neo-noir movies I listed above interesting and some of your favorites, I would check it out.  Would this replace any of the above movies on my favorite 1001 movies of all time?  No, but this movie gave me some prospective of where they came from.