Friday, August 26, 2011

Gold and Women

Alphaville (1965) - Godard
Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine), a hard-boiled spy from outland arrives in the Orwellian city of Alphaville, where people are controlled by a super computer named Alpha 60. The all the girls have numbers tattooed on their body and have no emotions. Words are disappearing every day and people get executed if they behave 'illogically'. Caution meets his predecessor Henry (Akim Tamiroff) who dies mysteriously after feeding him a bit of information on Prof. Von Braun (Howard Vernon) who invented the Death X-ray. Then he meets enchanting Natasha Von Braun (Anna Karina) who gets intrigued by the unpredictable outlander.

The setting is minimal. The 60s Paris doubles as the modern megalopolis. Godard's mash-up of noir and B-grade sci-fi films has its moments, especially the pool execution scene with the knife wielding synchronized swimmers. For a Godard film, it's surprisingly accessible, thanks in parts to constant narration by the gravelly voiced supercomputer. Yet it's a complex film. It's a satire on the advanced, soulless capitalist society and mainstream movies. It also examines the question 'what makes us human?' Caution is not your regular straight-up 'good' man. He says gold and women when asked about his desire at the interrogation. But he also reads surrealist poetry, so.... I didn't care for the 'love conquers all' ending (has a lot of similarities with Blade Runner) but it's an interesting little film nonetheless.

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