Released 1965 (France)
French & Italian, in French (subtitles available)
Director - Jean-Luc Godard
Stars - Eddie Constantine, Anna Karina
Secret agent Lemmy Caution (Constantine) arrives in the futuristic city of Alphaville on a mission to assassinate the exiled scientist Von Braun (Howard Vernon) but things get complicated after he meets Von Braun’s daughter Natacha (Karina).
Violence; mild gore; blue language; heavily implied sexy times; brief female nudity (breasts and butt, although the breasts are in a magazine ad).
What in the blue hell did I just watch? I spent a large portion of the film completely clueless as to what was going on. I don’t like that. I shouldn’t have to wait an hour for a movie to explain to me what happened in its thoroughly bewildering opening scene.
Women only exist in this film to be the object of desire of men. Gross.
I didn’t like Caution. He was rude, angry, quick to commit violence [SPOILER] He beats a guy up to steal his car and very intentionally runs over his head! It’s not shown on screen but geeeeezzzzzz [SPOILER], and generally just about the least, um, cautious secret agent I’ve ever seen.
If you have a seizure disorder, proceed with caution. Lots of random, flashing lights.
I liked the ideas of it, this exploration of what could go wrong if we were to rely too much on machines/logic. And it seems pretty French to imagine that a dystopian future would lack the concept of love.
There’s some unexpected humor, like the engineers who are named Heckell and Jeckell. Or, my favorite scene, where Caution passes a vending machine that says, “please insert coin” on it, he stops to do so, and gets a small box that says, “Merci,” which he then tosses away in disgust. That made me laugh out loud.
The weird camera angles were kind of fun.
I think I may not be a fan of French New Wave cinema, because I thought this was very weird with few redeeming qualities. The DVD sleeve assured me that it’s a sci fi classic that informed many films to follow, but if this is the case, I have to wonder why I’ve never heard of it before. I think it must be its ideas that landed it on the list. It’s a thinking man’s sci fi, coming in after decades of sci fi films that were mostly about action and special effects. For myself, I have a difficult time getting over the 1960s weirdness of it, that sense I had during the whole thing that I would need to be on drugs to truly enjoy it. Definitely not to my taste.
I give it 2.5 stars.