Alphaville


1h 40m 1965
Alphaville

Brief Synopsis

A private eye is sent to rescue a scientist from a future world ruled by computers.

Film Details

Also Known As
Agente Lemmy Caution missione Alphaville, Tarzan versus I.B.M., Une Étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution
Genre
Drama
Foreign
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jan 1965
Premiere Information
New York opening: 25 Oct 1965
Production Company
Chaumiane Production; Film Studio
Distribution Company
Pathé Contemporary Films
Country
France
Location
Paris, France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Synopsis

In 1984, Earth sends secret agent Lemmy Caution across the galaxy to Alphaville. In this steel and concrete city of the future, his mission is to capture or dispose of the Earth scientist Professor Leonard Nosferatu, alias von Braun, and to find Henri Dickson, Caution's predecessor. Von Braun rules Alphaville through a giant computer, Alpha 60. This machine controls the lives of the people according to its own logic. It unemotionally orders the executions of those who resist, or still believe in such outmoded concepts as love and conscience. In his disguise as Yvan Johnson, reporter for the Figaro-Pravda , Caution proceeds with his investigations while at the same time becoming involved with von Braun's daughter, Natacha. Caution is able to find Dickson, who is hiding in a hotel in another part of the city. Here the men who resist the machine's orders come to kill themselves or be executed. At the hotel the staff consists of robot-like people, their jobs and ranks tattooed on their bodies. Sex is provided by official seductresses. Dickson dies in the hotel, and, disguised again, Caution is taken by von Braun to the nerve center of the city, while the computer decides what to do with him. Just before it decides to execute Caution, the secret agent shoots von Braun, thus ensuring the destruction of Alpha 60. The inhabitants of the land, by now all mutants, are either killed or made harmless with the death of the machine. Natacha is saved only because she has learned the meaning of love, and she is able to return to Earth with Caution.

Film Details

Also Known As
Agente Lemmy Caution missione Alphaville, Tarzan versus I.B.M., Une Étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution
Genre
Drama
Foreign
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jan 1965
Premiere Information
New York opening: 25 Oct 1965
Production Company
Chaumiane Production; Film Studio
Distribution Company
Pathé Contemporary Films
Country
France
Location
Paris, France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Articles

Alphaville


One characteristic that united the French New Wave filmmakers was their admiration for certain genre films and well-crafted Hollywood features by iconoclastic directors like Nicholas Ray and Sam Fuller. Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville (1965) is probably the closest the director has ever come to fashioning an entertainment inspired by his love of American movies. Its innovative mix of science fiction, film noir, pop art, and comic book influences make it his most accessible work if not his most thought-provoking. Godard also makes ironic use of B-movie stereotypes with the casting of Eddie Constantine as secret agent Lemmy Caution, a character Constantine had previously portrayed in a series of low-budget French thrillers.

Essentially a film about the threat of dehumanization in a technological society, Alphaville follows Lemmy Caution as he tries to locate a missing colleague from a city controlled by a power-hungry scientist and his super computer, Alpha 60. Caution's tour guide in this brave new world is Nastasha Von Braun (Anna Karina), a robotic slave of the system. In a plot twist that parodies the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Caution saves Nastasha from her preprogrammed existence and brings her back to the land of the living, an ending that anticipates the climax of Blade Runner (1982).

Filmed in Paris in the winter of 1965, Alphaville takes full advantage of the city's most futuristic buildings. The snail-shaped Maison de la Radio, the wing-topped Palais des Expositions at the Rond-Point de la Defense, and the office of Les Machines Bull (a computer company) make ideal locations for Raoul Coutard's dramatic contrasts in neon and total blackness. The fragmented music score by Paul Misraki also adds immeasurably to Godard's futuristic vision, which now seems more topical than ever.

Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Producer: Andre Michelin
Screenplay: Jean-Luc Godard, Peter Cheyney (novel)
Cinematography: Raoul Coutard
Editing: Agnes Guillemot
Music: Paul Misraki
Cast: Eddie Constantine (Lemmy Caution), Anna Karina (Natasha Von Braun), Akim Tamiroff (Henri Dickson), Laszlo Szabo (Doctor), Howard Vernon (Professor Von Braun).
In French with English subtitles
BW-100m.

by Jeff Stafford
Alphaville

Alphaville

One characteristic that united the French New Wave filmmakers was their admiration for certain genre films and well-crafted Hollywood features by iconoclastic directors like Nicholas Ray and Sam Fuller. Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville (1965) is probably the closest the director has ever come to fashioning an entertainment inspired by his love of American movies. Its innovative mix of science fiction, film noir, pop art, and comic book influences make it his most accessible work if not his most thought-provoking. Godard also makes ironic use of B-movie stereotypes with the casting of Eddie Constantine as secret agent Lemmy Caution, a character Constantine had previously portrayed in a series of low-budget French thrillers. Essentially a film about the threat of dehumanization in a technological society, Alphaville follows Lemmy Caution as he tries to locate a missing colleague from a city controlled by a power-hungry scientist and his super computer, Alpha 60. Caution's tour guide in this brave new world is Nastasha Von Braun (Anna Karina), a robotic slave of the system. In a plot twist that parodies the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Caution saves Nastasha from her preprogrammed existence and brings her back to the land of the living, an ending that anticipates the climax of Blade Runner (1982). Filmed in Paris in the winter of 1965, Alphaville takes full advantage of the city's most futuristic buildings. The snail-shaped Maison de la Radio, the wing-topped Palais des Expositions at the Rond-Point de la Defense, and the office of Les Machines Bull (a computer company) make ideal locations for Raoul Coutard's dramatic contrasts in neon and total blackness. The fragmented music score by Paul Misraki also adds immeasurably to Godard's futuristic vision, which now seems more topical than ever. Director: Jean-Luc Godard Producer: Andre Michelin Screenplay: Jean-Luc Godard, Peter Cheyney (novel) Cinematography: Raoul Coutard Editing: Agnes Guillemot Music: Paul Misraki Cast: Eddie Constantine (Lemmy Caution), Anna Karina (Natasha Von Braun), Akim Tamiroff (Henri Dickson), Laszlo Szabo (Doctor), Howard Vernon (Professor Von Braun). In French with English subtitles BW-100m. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Sometimes reality is too complex for oral communication. But legend embodies it in a form which enables it to spread all over the world.
- Alpha 60
Time is like a circle which is endlessly described. The declining arc is the past. The inclining arc is the future.
- Alpha 60
Everything has been said, provided words do not change their meanings, and meanings their words.
- Alpha 60
Once we know the number one, we believe that we know the number two, because one plus one equals two. We forget that first we must know the meaning of plus.
- Alpha 60
Men of your type will soon become extinct. You'll become something worse than dead. You'll become a legend.
- Professor Von Braun

Trivia

Professors Heckel and Jeckell are named after the cartoon birds "Heckle and Jeckle", created by U.S. animator Paul Terry (of "Terrytoons" fame).

Professor von Braun's real name, Leonard Nosferatu, is a tribute to F.W. Murnau's silent film, Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922).

Despite the fact that the film is a work of science fiction and supposed to be in a city of the future, all the sets were existing locations in Paris in 1965, and all the weapons are conventional firearms.

Godard originally wanted Roland Barthes for the role of Professor von Braun.

The line by Alpha60 that begins "Time is the substance of which I am made" is paraphrased from the 1946 essay "A New Refutation of Time" by famous Argentinean writer and fantasist Jorge Luis Borges, which reads: "Our destiny is not frightful by being unreal; it is frightful because it is irreversible and iron-clad. Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire. The world, unfortunately, is real; I, unfortunately, am Borges."

Notes

Filmed on location in Paris. Opened in Paris in May 1965; running time: 90 min. Alternative title: Une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution. Released in Italy as Agente Lemmy Caution missione Alphaville. The working title of this film is Tarzan versus I.B.M.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall October 25, 1965

Released in United States February 1965

Released in United States September 7, 1965

Released in United States November 1965

Released in United States March 1975

Released in United States 2001

Shown at Berlin Film Festival February 1965.

Shown at New York Film Festival September 7, 1965.

Shown at London Film Festival November 1965.

Shown at the National Film Theatre in London, England as part of a special two-month program dedicated to Jean-Luc Godard, June 1 - July 31, 2001.

Godard nicknamed the film "Tarzan vs IBM". Released in Italy under the title "Agente Lemmy Caution missione Alphaville". Leaud has only a bit part in the film.

Shot between January-February 1965.

Re-released in Paris April 25, 1990.

Released in United States February 1965 (Shown at Berlin Film Festival February 1965.)

Released in United States September 7, 1965 (Shown at New York Film Festival September 7, 1965.)

Released in United States November 1965 (Shown at London Film Festival November 1965.)

Released in United States Fall October 25, 1965

Released in United States March 1975 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Science Fiction Movie Marathon - Excerpts shown) March 13-26, 1975.)

Released in United States 2001 (Shown at the National Film Theatre in London, England as part of a special two-month program dedicated to Jean-Luc Godard, June 1 - July 31, 2001.)

Winner of the Golden Bear for Best Film at the 1965 Berlin Film Festival.