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Archive for June 14th, 2013

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by Allan Fish

(France 1965 98m) DVD1/2

Aka. Alphaville, une Etrange Aventure de Lemmy Caution

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p  André Michelin  d/w  Jean-Luc Godard  ph  Raoul Coutard  ed  Agnes Guillemot  m  Paul Mizraki, Michel Legrand  art  Bernard Evein

Eddie Constantine (Lemmy Caution/Ivan Johnson), Anna Karina (Natasha Von Braun), Akim Tamiroff (Henri Dickson), Howard Vernon (Professor Von Braun/Leonard Nosferatu), Laszlo Szabo, Michel Delahaye, Valerie Boisgel, Christa Lang, Jean-André Fieschi, Jean-Louis Comolli, Jean-Pierre Léaud,

Of all Godard’s classics of the 1960s, surely Alphaville is the daftest.  And yet, as you try to laugh at one scene or another you find yourself inexplicably unable to do so.  It’s a strange feeling whereby what seems almost a spoof of sci-fi at its most pretentious manages, in its borderline flippancy, to capture the essence of the Kafka and Orwell nightmare.  For 1954 it may be 1965, and where in Oceania language was being redefined and shrunk till it lost all of its wonderful ambiguity, so in Alphaville it’s done by replacing the Gideon bibles with dictionaries, still calling them bibles, but reprinting each new edition with even less words than before.  Who needs such words as tenderness or Robin Redbreast?  Indeed, who even needs colour at all?

So Lemmy Caution goes to Alphaville under the soubriquet of Ivan Johnson in search of the missing Henri Dickson.  He finds him, briefly, but also finds that Alphaville is the nerve centre of a society intent on removing all essences of humanity.  Human beings effectively turned into subservient androids.  Questions such as ‘why’ become reasons such as ‘because’ and everywhere else is the ‘Outer Countries’. (more…)

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