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5.0 out of 5 stars
The Eternal Theme of the Individual VS The State, Jan. 1 2004
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 afficionados. Some of that can be seen in the reviews for this film, both on this page and throughout the Internet. The truth however, is that while Godard was a borderline socialist and critical of the supposed decadence of "America", he was more of a heroic individualist than anything else and his pre-1970 films all demonstrate this fact.
Alphavile is without a doubt, his greatest achievement and it is a work that speaks of an artistic sensibility all but lost in the France of today, which is overun with rampant anti-intellectualism and a worship of un-reason.
Godard takes the Bogart-like "Lemmy Caution" character out of his former slew of 40/50's French spy thrillers and puts the very same character into a future where a technocratic dictatorship exists. In doing so, the very best idealism of American pulp-fiction is given back its soul by a French director, Godard, who truly was interested in the world of ideas.
This film not only shows why a totalitarian state must be destroyed, it also demonstrates some key philosophical concepts in the process. Through Godard, we learn that it is language that first must be assaulted before one can enslave man, then mathematics, then history and finally, the human mind itself. We can see parallels to this line of thinking through the world today and yet, how ironic that it is today's France that probably best embodies Godard's nightmare come to life (for a Western democracy of course).
The cinematography of Alphaville is superb, as is the musical score by Paul Misraki which is one of the finest I have experienced, for it reaches its crescendo with the most important line in the film, almost as an answer to a question. The theme of Alphaville is simple enough - the Individual against the State, but the soul of Alphaville reaches higher to a level where Man is sanctified against all intrusions on his life, liberty and happiness.
Anna Karina plays the part of the Ideal Woman still capable of feeling and understanding the value of love and that immortal word that may still one day save humanity - "I". It is a rare thing to find a work of art that speaks so eloquently to the sublime beauty of Man, Humanity and Individualism. Godard does this and more in Alphaville and for that, he should go down in history as one of Europe's finest artists.
Note - One would need to watch this film about 3 times to completely grasp every important nuance. Also, Anthem and 1984 are good reads along the same vain.