A surreal missing person case sends an American private investigator by the name of Lemmy Caution on an interplanetary journey to the futuristic city of Alphaville, where he becomes at odds with the sinister ruler of the town.
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Orpheus meets Flash Gordon! It may be the best newbie's intro to Godard, thanks to the stylish atmosphere and lean plotting, but it's far from slight—in fact, it's a rich, bewitching manifesto on the challenge of personal/political art in an industrial system. Alpha 60's slogan ("Silence-Safety-Logic-Prudence") sums up mass culture nicely, and the movie blasts it apart in an ending that celebrates both high and low.
Under Alphaville's notion that a society based on technocratic efficiency will lead to a totalitarian state lies embedded JLG's greatest idea. In his dystopia the cinema is a thing of the past: "The old cinerama museums." "Mr. Nosferatu ... that man no longer exists." Yet in the end, it's a hero out of the movies (Lemmy Caution) that saves the day, suggesting that there is actually no longer a world without cinema.
Remember when Godard was playful? When I talk about my love for Godard I'm really talking about this period, before he became the angriest dog in the world. I love everything about this movie. There is this strange story about how he ran out of money at the end and ended up using the negative film for the weird sequence at the end.
"Something's not in orbit in the capitol of this galaxy."
There is something unavoidably quaint about Godard's essay in hard-boiled sf dystopia, but Alphaville wears its goofiness on its sleeve, and it loses no points for being dated. Kitsch it ain't -- not really, and not only because it's put together with the expected impeccable style. The fact is that we need its surprisingly hokey humanism now more than ever.
A strange, yet powerful master working. What I really love about this movie is that it just asks you to imagine along with it. It doesn't need special effects - it transcends special effects. Godard speaks about emotions and the human condition like no one else.