Thursday, November 13, 2008


Alphaville, Jean-Luc Godard's 1965 science fiction film featuring British pulp character Lemmy Caution, is a strange, noir-like picture that takes place in the titular city. It utilizes some elements of typical dystopian science fiction-a central body or entity controlling the population (the supercompuer, Alpha 60), the loss and suppressing of emotions by the ruling body-but never relies on any elaborate sets, props, or effects usually seen in science-fiction films.

As is usual of Godard's genre films, he pushes the film into near parody territory. He makes use of some of the usual cliches while ignoring others. It almost seemed intentionally convoluted and murky, at least to me, but the story itself is actually quite simple.

I found Alpha 60 comparable to the character IT in Madeleine L'Engle's 1962 novel A Wrinkle in Time. IT is a brain that controls the entire planet of Camazotz, forcing ITs citizens into a role of utter and complete conformity, both in actions and emotions. Much as Strange defeats Alpha 60 by reciting poetry to it, Wrinkle's hero, teenager Meg Murray, confronts and incapacitates IT by showing an intense feeling of love for her mentally imprisoned brother. Both characters escape.

I personally found the ending perfectly suitable. I can understand how some might find it a bit cliche, but I think that the fact it ends on a simple "I love you" makes it all the better. There's no cheesy monologue or elaboration needed; less is more here and the film ends on a stronger note because of it. In a film about the loss of human emotion, the simple recitation of the most emotional of statements-"I love you," is more than enough.

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