Saturday, February 13, 2010

ALPHAVILLE (French) (1965)

“I pity the French cinema because it has no money. I pity the American cinema
because it has no ideas.”- Jean Luc Godard

You don’t need skyrocketed production sum to make a classic sci-fi film when helm of the film is handled by auteur himself. Jean Luc Godard’s this minimalist film gave a shining proof of it. The movie’s theme reminds me the world depicted by the critical novels of Franz Kafka and especially the whole set up of Alphaville has close resemblance with George Orwell’s masterpiece and one of my most favorite novel 1984.

Lemmy Caution is a spy came from Outlands to futuristic shocking city called Alphaville. He pretended himself as a newspaper reporter Ivan Johnson but he’s here on a secret mission to search two men- Leonard Von Braun, the Professor & inventor and the X agent named Henry Dickson. The world of Alphaville is incomprehensible for Johnson who’s struggling to accomplish his mission and trying to awaken feelings and conscience of beautiful Natasha, a daughter of Professor Braun. He has to remain extremely careful where older agents had committed suicides while being failed to adapt the city’s controlled existence where apartments are full of glass windows.

In a future city of Alphaville any thing guided by emotions such as love or any sort of artistic progress is forbidden and instead staunchly believes in rationalism and logic orders. The centre of the town is Alpha 60, a giant powerful watchdog computer to run technocratic authoritarian city. Behaving illogically or showing honest emotion is severe crime here and the condemned ones are executed either in a swimming pool or electrocuted in auditorium chairs. Surprisingly even the chief engineer doesn’t know what a free man or conscience means! It’s because every human being here is like a brain washed programming mind controlled by their identity numbers. In each room they have a copy of Bible which is nothing but dictionary where we don’t find any words associated with abstract human emotions.

By breaking all conventions Godard had managed to create the sarcastic world of Alphaville so meticulously with tight budget, minimalist approach and experimental techniques in narration. It’s learning case for all Hollywood directors. There are so many memorable scenes and the one where Mr. Caution explaining the difference between love and sensuality to Natasha is great aesthetic JLG moment with fine focused use of on and off lights. In fact watch carefully the way he used electric neon lights in the entire film and you will agree why his cinematographer Raoul Coutard stands parallel to great George Tolland. Eddie Constantine as legendary Lemmy Caution is a new entry in my favorite movie characters. I just love the way JLG projected his heroines in the film as great combination of beauty and individualism and beautiful Anna Karina is sheer bliss to eyes. Craving to watch her in other Godard classics.

Mandatory watch by all means.


PS- For those who’ve already seen this and liked it, suggest you to read Orwell’s brilliant satirical novel named 1984 written in 1948, it’s one of my favorite classic.

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