Godard`s Alphaville
production:
Chaumiane (Paris) and filmstudio (Rom) black and white, 35mm, running time 98 min., some sources list 100min. released 1965
produced by Andre Michelin, screenplay by Jean-Luc Godard, based a
character created by Peter Cheney, directed by Jean-Luc Godard, photography by Raoul Coutard, edited by Agnes Guillemot, sound by Rene Levert, music by Paul Misraki, assistant directors included Chaarles Bitsch, Jean-Paul Savignac and Helene Kalonguine
filmed January through February 1965 in Paris best film Berlin Film festival 1965
Cast: Eddi Constantin (Lemmy Caution), Anna Karina (Natasha von Braun), Howard Vemon (Professor von Braun), Akin Tamiroff (Henri Dickson), Laszlo Szabo (Chief Engineer), Michael Delahaye (von Braun`s assistant), Jean-Andre Fieschi (Professor Heckel); Jean-Louis Comolli (Professor Jeckel), Alpha 60 (itself)
 
 

Since the early 1950s a tendency has begun to manifest itself in the genre of the science-fiction film as an increasing number of important directors use the sci-fi-form to express their views on society, mankind, the present and the future. One of these is Jean-Luc Godard, whose 1965 Alphaville takes place in a utopian world of the future. Godard`s world is not one of joy and happieness; Alphaville is governed by a totalitarian system in which the individual counts for almost nothing and its alienated people have no use for art, love, or even thought. People are reduced essentially to the level of rolots, identified only by numbers, without a will of their own, with no ideas or feelings. Even though it belongs in the category of Science fiction. Godard`s film does not closely follow the conventional patterns of the genre. As a member of the French New Wave Godard has held, since his debut, an individual and welldefined view of the cinema. One of the most important features of his work is his emphasis on the contemporary world. All of his films deal with modern man: we do not find a return to the past in his entire work. The stamp of the present can also be seen in his sole excursion into the future, Alphaville, which is less about what the world will be like tomorrow that what it is like today, and what it is gradually becoming before our very eyes without our realizing it. In the present and the past Godard sees the pootential seeds of a future world, and therefore the story has an admonitory subtext. From this thematic interpretation flows the film`s realization, its formal execution and visual aspect. The viewer encounters on the screen nothing that appears to be unusual or extraordinary, and Godard even forgoes any futuristic mise-enscene. His Alphaville of the future is the Paris of 1965, in which a dehumanizing atmosphere is expressed through the camera work of Raoul Contard, who shoots buildings of concrete and glass in high contrast, alternates positive and negative images in very short takes, and makes particularly effective use of Paris by night. The most unusual aspect of the film is the sound, particularly the monotonous voice of the central brain governing Alphaville, a voice in contrast to the somewhat ingratiating music of Paul Misraki. A characteristic feature of the entire French New Wave was a certain admiration for the American cinema - its perfect craftmanship and its ability to entertain, move, or thrill with suspense. In Alphaville, Godard`s affinity for popular film can be seen, for example, in the choice of Eddi Constantine for the starring role- viewers know him chiefly from gangster films- and in the dramatic structure influenced by both film serials of the 1930s and by comic strips. Another striking feature of Godard`s direction is his free use of ideas and resources borrowed from other films and other art forms; Godard summons these according to this own needs. In Alphaville we find links with the work of Jean Coctean in the sequence in which Lemmy converses with Alpha 60; the labyrinthine passages recall the phantasmic world of the novels of Franz Kafka; and we find a refernce to the ancient myth of Eurydice and the Biblical story of Lot`s wife. There are also references to the unforgotten Fascist past, as in the tattooed numbers wom by the city`s inhabitants, the name of the designer of the central brain, Proffessor von Braun, or the use of actual rooms of the Parisian Hotel Confinental, where the Gestapo was quartered during the occupation. These references in the film are not incidental; they are utilized intentionally to broaden and deepen the picture and shift the story to another, more relevant level. However, they do not destroy the integrity and unity of the film even when the viewer is aware of them. Godard`s film of the 1960s were often received by a portion of the public and by some critics with an enthusiasm that was almost excessive. In the course of time, some of these films have lost their appeal. This has not happened in the case of Alphaville, which remains part of a valuable current of science fiction while holding its place in the history of cinema.