Alphaville (Version française)
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As the French New Wave was reaching its maturity and filmgoing had evolved as a favorite pastime of intellectuals and urban sophisticates, along came Jean-Luc Godard to shake up every convention and send highfalutin critics scrambling to their typewriters. 1965's Alphaville is a perfect example of Godard's willingness to disrupt expectation, combine genres, and comment on movies while making sociopolitical statements that inspired doctoral theses and left a majority of viewers mystified. Part science fiction and part hard-boiled detective yarn, Alphaville presents a futuristic scenario using the most modern and impersonal architecture that Godard could find in mid-'60s Paris. A haggard private eye (Eddie Constantine) is sent to an ultramodern city run by a master computer, where his mission is to locate and rescue a scientist who is trapped there. As the story unfolds on Godard's strictly low-budget terms, the movie tackles a variety of topics such as the dehumanizing effect of technology, willful suppression of personality, saturation of commercial products, and, of course, the constant recollection of previous films through Godard's carefully chosen images. For most people Alphaville, like many of the director's films, will prove utterly baffling. For those inclined to dig deeper into Godard's artistic intentions, the words of critic Andrew Sarris (quoted from an essay that accompanies the Criterion Collection DVD) will ring true: "To understand and appreciate Alphaville is to understand Godard, and vice versa." --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Criterion's DVD release of Alphaville can almost be considered 'Godardian' in and of itself. Almost in keeping with the director's minimalist ideals, this DVD has no added "extras." Criterion instead focused their sole attention on greatly improving the visual and audio qualities of the film. This new digital transfer was created from a 35mm fine grain master made from the original negative. Though there are manipulated letterboxed additions available, this DVD is presented in the film's originally intended 1.33:1 aspect ratio and French Mono 1.0 soundtrack. Though a little grainy in spots, this is without a doubt the best Alphaville has ever looked. One could even argue that the visual faults add to Alphaville's grittiness. Though a commentary would have been a nice extra to this complex film, it is the vast technical improvements that make this Criterion DVD a worthwhile addition to any film fan's collection. --Rob Bracco --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The film is fast paced, reminiscent of crime thrillers, and of sci-fi dystopians such as Blade Runner. The film examines human nature, and the redeeming value of love, and spirit, over mind, and material. The film is both very entertaining, and philosophical, that rewards multiple viewing, that offers new insights. I recommend this very much. 5 stars.
I like a number of Godard films: Breathless, My Life To Live, Contempt, Pierrot Le Fou, First Name: Carmen, Hail Mary, In Praise of Love --still Alphaville remains kind of a hard one for me to get into. Perhaps because I am not too keen on science fiction. It seems the people who like this film are the ones who like science fiction in general. To me science fiction is full of cliches and so is film noir and so to me it seems Godard is using these genres to address cultural cliches -- and yet he is also making pointed comments on modern culture as he does so. You can always count on a Godard film to be smart and even though its not one of my favorites Alphaville is no exception to that rule.
Anna Karina looks great as always. Unfortunately for Lemmy Caution she is the daughter of Alphaville's overlord. No one really believes the future will look like a parking garage nor that a super-computer will run our lives and that people will become vacant automatons. Only a handful of early twentieth-century authors thought the future was leading us toward Alphaville. In the context of the swinging sixties sci fi just looks campy and noir even campier. Whats going on in Godards head? Hard to say in this film. To me its funny, but a surprising amount of people seem to take this sci fi stuff seriously.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This film leaves me baffled still. In more bad ways than good. It's so aloof in where it's trying to get at and what it's trying to say. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Johnny Rocker
The DVD with the black and white case is a French only edition, and comes with no extra features at all, and no English subtitles. Read morePublished on Jan. 16 2012 by Mark
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
This film which is one of several involving the character Lemmy Caution remains popular to this day as one... Read more
It should not surprise anyone that a film from Jean-Luc Godard will invariably attract the usual assortment of Post-Modernist, ethically and politically retarded, anti-Western... Read morePublished on Jan. 1 2004 by S. D'Anconia
...Needs no introduction. The Criterion DVD is subpar only due to lack of extras (hence the three stars). Very strange for Criterion. Read morePublished on Nov. 20 2003 by Arno Parke
Curate a screening of Godard's *Alphaville* for today's Digerati. Snag as many technocrats, cognitive logicians, Kripkean analytical philosophers, MIT scions, and 80K-a-year... Read morePublished on June 30 2003 by Alexander
A silly, ugly, pretentious, inept, embarrassing, shallow, dreary film that was dated the day it was made.Published on April 25 2003
Jean Luc Goddard presents a brilliant look at an Huxleyian future, with comedy made uncomfortable by a callously violent society. Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2003 by KNO2skull
Godard, famous the world over with the art house, college course, and critic corner, has here, made a piece so absurd and in the extreme which creates a needed desire to view the... Read morePublished on Oct. 26 2002 by Paul Broadstone Jr.