Alphaville

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Alphaville
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Alphaville says
At a time when 10,000 of the world's leading physicists are holed up in a Swiss bunker engaged on a project that may one day enable them to pretend they understand the nature of the universe, Alphaville has never seemed more timely.
Jean-Luc Godard's film – "a science fiction film without special effects" in the words of the critic Andrew Sarris; "a fable on a realistic ground" in Godard's own description – is a cry of protest aimed at the worshippers of science and logic. Unlike Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, which now resembles a picturesque relic of long-abandoned aspirations, Alphaville still seems to be watching the world come to meet it. And the world is very much closer to the director's creation than it was back in 1965.

All the elements combine beautifully. Raoul Coutard's black-and-white photography turns everyday objects and settings – a hotel lobby, a swimming pool, a room full of mainframe computers, a jukebox, a Kodak Instamatic, the Paris suburbs at night – into the props of a convincingly dystopian futureworld whose philosophy is outlined in voiceover by the grating, inhuman tones of Alpha 60, the computer that regulates life in Alphaville. (Godard had the lines intoned by an actor who had lost his larynx and spoke through an artificial voice-box.) Paul Misraki's excellent score enhances moments of tension with warning stabs of low brass.

This was Godard's ninth feature film in six years, a rate of production resembling that of Beatles albums. There are signs of haste and improvisation, so Alphaville is much the better for its ability to make us think and trigger our feelings. At times it is a cartoon (the shootings, the use of negative images to convey disorientation) but at others it is more chillingly prescient than ever.
Yet Godard ends the piece on a note of romantic optimism, with Lemmy and Natasha escaping their pursuers and a dying world, fleeing to safety through intersidereal space (otherwise known as the Boulevard Périphérique) as the girl learns a new phrase: "Je vous aime ..."

France
1965
99 mins
1.37:1 aspect ratio, a.k.a, “Academy ratio” or “Academy flat” with the addition of sound-on-film technology
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By: Landmark's Midtown Art Cinema

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