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5.0 out of 5 stars The Beauty of Individuality Exemplified
It is a rare thing to see a film that not only shows one what life is, but espouses a concrete vision of what life should be. Even more rare is a film which does this by situating characters in a world where one would not want to live thereby isolating the very essence of what makes on human. Godard's Alfaville not only accomplishes this feet but it creates an...
Published on Jan. 16 1999

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars French only edition
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. Do not be fooled into thinking, as I was, that this is the Criterion edition of this great film. I think the sellers of the disc above should make it a lot clearer and prevent this waste of time and money. This order should have been as...
Published on Jan. 16 2012 by Mark


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars French only edition, Jan. 16 2012
This review is from: Alphaville (Version française) (DVD)
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. Do not be fooled into thinking, as I was, that this is the Criterion edition of this great film. I think the sellers of the disc above should make it a lot clearer and prevent this waste of time and money. This order should have been as satisfying as my other recent purchases on Amazon. Instead it was disappointing, and there was no reason for that.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Beauty of Individuality Exemplified, Jan. 16 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Alphaville (VHS Tape)
It is a rare thing to see a film that not only shows one what life is, but espouses a concrete vision of what life should be. Even more rare is a film which does this by situating characters in a world where one would not want to live thereby isolating the very essence of what makes on human. Godard's Alfaville not only accomplishes this feet but it creates an artistic embodiment of all that true individuality stands for. More potent than 1984 and just as beautiful as novels such as Atlas Shrugged, Alfaville shows one who is willing to watch and listen the true value and purpose of freedom and the ominous results when that freedom is removed from their lives. The music, cinematography and overall directing could only be done by an individual who's sense of life is majestic and bordering on, if not completely genius. This is not only great science fiction but it is art at its highest ideal, a work that makes me proud to be human.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the greatest sci-fi film ever: not a special effect in sight, Nov. 26 2001
This review is from: Alphaville (DVD)
'Alphaville' is Jean-Luc Cinema Godard's 'The Wizard of Oz', the story of an American stranded in a strange fantasy city, who must find its controlling wizard before he can return home, evading forces sent to destroy him. Eddie Constantine reprises the role of Lemmy Caution that made him famous in 1950s France, as the roughneck FBI agent who fisticuffed, dame-bothered and slang-winked his way through a series of simple-minded thrillers. here he has become Special Agent 003, sent by his superiors in the Outlands to assassinate Professor Von Braun, the brains behind Alphaville, a futuristic city controlled by a philosophical computer, and which bears more than a passing resemblance to Gaullist Paris.
Alphaville is a classic dystopia, its minions brainwashed, dehumanised and branded; photographs of its leader on every available wall; the surveilling computer present in every room. dissidents are tortured or murdered in elaborate rituals (e.g. diving-board firing-squads in swimming pools before a gallery of socialites). Double-talk couched in the complexities of dialectic numb the brain; dictionaries are censored daily.
Much of the fun in Godard films of this period lies in their playfulness with familiar cinematic genres; and the trappings of the gangster and spy genres, the detective story and sci-fi adventure (brawls, shoot-outs, car-chases, interrogations, (literal) femmes fatales etc.) are made ridiculous by their slapstick treatment, comic exagerration and over-emphatic music. 'Alphaville' may be a pulp adventure, but the world Lemmy must negotiate is not one of genre, but of ideas, about reality, history, politics, freedom, love, poetry, dreams, the mind, logic, conformity, escape, all reverberating in an environment based on One Big Idea.
'Alphaville', like Chris Marker's similar 'La Jetee', is less a futuristic satire than a reflection of contemporary France (its dark and dense mise-en-scene like a negative photograph of the familiar city; with its extraordinary modern architecture reconfigured as a giant prison), with memories of the recent Nazi Occupation. But, as its name suggests, Alphaville is also the first (cinematic) city of post-modernity, where meaning and authority is decentred, where language ceases to have any shared value, where time ceases to exist, the past and future are abolished, and the mindless live in an eternal present, unable to learn from mistakes or hope for improvement, unable to acknowledge the value of culture. Lemmy seems to be set up as a very 'human' interloper, a repository of 'our' feelings and values in a culture that would seek to suppress them. But Godard called him a Martian', and he is a stranger to Alphaville, which, after all, is our world: he is a figure from pulp fiction , a risible set of signifiers who can only offer Natasha a choice between who gives her orders.
Most dystopias, like '1984' and 'Blade Runner', ultimately fail, because they are as cold and inhuman as the worlds they portray. 'Alphaville', especially in its visionary climactic half hour, shares more with Nabokov's novel 'Bend Sinister' - positing whimsy, idiosyncrasy, gags, Surrealism (Eluard, Bellmer), pop art, the absurd, the unexpected, the daft, the poetic, the aesthetic, the cinematic (especially Melville's 'Deux Hommes Dans Manhattan'), Anna Karina's gorgeous coats against the Brave New World.
But we shouldn't get too comfortable in this ''us vs. them', anti-totalitarian model: Professor Von Braun, with dark, impenetrable shades permenantly welded, is the clean-cut image of the director; he too forces Anna Karina (his daughter, Godard's wife) to perform for strangers and suppress her personality; he, like Godard, is the creator of Alphaville.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Analysis of Genre, Dec 15 2003
By 
Doug Anderson (Miami Beach, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Alphaville (DVD)
As usual with Godard moments stand out. In this film the most absurd sequence involves a diving platform in what looks to be an eastern bloc recreational center and a number of black sweatered and bereted revolutionaries with sub-machine guns standing on the pool deck spraying the divers as they dive. Whats it all mean? Well I suppose you could say its Godards way of commenting on the wests ability to turn even political oppression into mass entertainment.
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.
I think the new wave band of outsiders enjoyed genre hopping because it gave them a chance to flex their movie knowledge. Plus genres come loaded with rules which the new wavers can then subvert -- so that is the fun of Alphaville, subversion of genre and in this case its a double dose of subversion because Godards subverting two genres, sci fi and noir. I think its interesting to note that in both of these genres men and women relate in steretypical and fatalistic ways -- and the new wave was about being hyper-conscious of these film conventions. Perhaps what Godard is really saying is that in order to invent life anew we must break free of these conventions. This is of course something his characters often fail to do although in some films they try.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Great Transfer of Great Film with NO Extras, Nov. 20 2003
This review is from: Alphaville (DVD)
...Needs no introduction. The Criterion DVD is subpar only due to lack of extras (hence the three stars). Very strange for Criterion. Nice transfer of a beautiful print with generous chaptering. Still, a trailer or at least some production stills would have been nice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, and philosophical, Dec 12 2002
This review is from: Alphaville (DVD)
Jean-Luc Godard, the most experimental and influential filmmaker from the French New Wave, made this film in 1965, about an out of control, totalitarian, scientific, logical society. Lemmy Caution, a spy from the outlands, comes to Alphaville, under the name Ivan Johnson to investigate. He discovers a society run by a supercomputer Alpha 65, and populated by brainwashed drones, where love, art, and emotions are against the law. Lemmy gets involved with Alphaville's top scientist's daughter. He helps her discover her true human nature, they fall in love, and together they fight the leaders of Alphaville, and Alpha 65 itself.
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 'Absurdity' as a Teacher, Oct. 26 2002
By 
Paul Broadstone Jr. (North Little Rock, AR United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Alphaville (DVD)
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 '65 film. Within the same breath as sci-fi fantasy modern satire overpopulation history imploding upon itself hysterical nonsence overall dehumanization sadness wit born out of suffering lost in a vacuous sucking system of rule where even anarchy has become dull and pointless living non-living automaton where love is only a reflex automation bombardment constant forced labotomy imagery of a so called so named hopeless modernization salvation. Are we to conclude that we only can "learn" from black and white dogma, lines of good/bad, common love/hate? No, yet a certain learning can be gained from the hyperbole, the extreme, and absurdity. Of course, the world has changed faces a dozen times over since '65 and ideals come and go. Some proven beneficent, others perfectly cataclysmic. ... However, one can learn from the darkest periods of this past century alone (and what you learn is really of your own doing and construction). So the movie has classic original overtones and gritty reality met by brutish characters and eerie mechanized beings floating through scenes with at times misplaced soundtrack in foreground interspersed with street/billboard-like signs setting a desired mood and pace. ...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Godard's A #1., Jan. 11 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Alphaville (DVD)
Godard's best film, in my judgment. Certainly his most cerebral. Manages to be quite affecting and parodistic all at once--not an easy feat, even for a Frenchman. Naturally such a sensibility is alien to the American mindset. Most Americans would hate this. In fact, it may be fair to say that *Alphaville* is the litmus test for whether or not a person can handle French New Wave cinema: if you make it through this one, baby, hey, look up--it only gets easier. It's about a French Mike Hammer-type called Lemmy Caution (an amusing name for English speakers--another of Godard's calculated effects) who drives on up to Planet Alphaville by way of a Ford Galaxy. Suspend your belief, baby. This is sci-fi cinema by way of Elizabethan theatre. His secret mission: either assassinate or kidnap a mad technocrat named Vonbraun (get it?) who has created the evil Alpha 60 supercomputer. Along the way, he runs into "seductresses, third-class", Vonbraun's daughter (Anna Karina in the height of 60's fashion), an old friend and former fellow-agent (Akim Tamiroff, doing a hilarious impression of Orson Welles in *Mr. Arkadin*), various other assassins, bureaucrats, garage-park attendants, and even Alpha 60 itself. What does it all mean? I have a relatively good idea, but I don't kid myself for one second: Godard's having a bit of fun w / us, here. Too much analysis and you'll be climbing the walls, like certain characters late in the film. Just watch and enjoy . . . if you can. The photography by the master Raoul Coutard, incidentally, is even better than usual, and that's saying a lot.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Film Noir, Jan. 8 2002
By 
Blahblahblah (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Alphaville (DVD)
Imagine someone like David Lynch being hired to make the next James Bond film. That is analogous to what happened with Alphaville. Alphaville is part of a series of movies starring the character Lemmy Caution which was popular in France. But instead of churning out more of the Sam Spade/Humphrey Bogart inspired film noir typical of the series, Godard made something completely unique.
All the same themes of traditional film noir are found in this movie. However instead of having the hero trying to maintain his sense of morality after falling for an amoral woman, the hero in Alphaville instead encounters a whole society which is amoral. And instead of just solving a crime, Lemmy Caution challenges a whole system of thought.
Lemmy drives in his Ford Galaxie to Alphaville, another planet which is ruled by a computer obeyed without question, and which is an interesting blend of the (then) past and the future, although the film also clearly takes place in the late 1950s. His mission is to either capture the scientist who invented the computer and bring him back to the "exterior", or else kill him. Lemmy soon encounters a society that is completely amoral because it follows the dictatorship of logic. Individuality is subsumed by the needs of the community. The word "love" is no longer understood, partly because it is no longer listed in the Bible/Dictionary which is constantly being revised. Nor do the people understand the word "why" because they do not question the logic of the computer which controls every aspect of their lives.
Of course, as is typical with noir, Lemmy falls in love with the scientist's daughter, and his mission becomes secondary to his relationship. However, also as is typical, it is this relationship which helps Lemmy succeed in his mission.
Interspersed with the action are interesting philosophical speeches by the computer. The computer develops an interest in Lemmy because it is confused by him and his alien concepts, resulting in interesting conversations. Eventually Lemmy triumphs over the coldly logical society of Alphaville by introducing eternal concepts like love and happiness which exist beyond cold logic into the system, much like how Sam Spade defeats scheming females through a display of tenderness and his adherence to his own morals. Thus even while Alphaville's portrayal of post-war society is in many ways grimmer and less individual than most film noir, Lemmy's triumph is far more complete than any of Sam Spade's because his victory goes beyond mere personal triumph of his own moral principles by redeeming society.
Filled with great sets, photography and acting, and some wonderful surreal touches, this film is an interesting optimistic alternative to Orwell's 1984, and should be enjoyed by any serious fan of science fiction or film noir, or of just plain great filmmaking.
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5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT??? I can't give more than 5 measly stars? Whadda rip., Oct. 30 2001
By 
socrates17 "socrates17" (New Jersey/Tanelorn 2008/9) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Alphaville (DVD)
One of the two greatest science fiction films ever made. (Read all of my reviews to figure out the other.) A near perfect visual and conceptual feast, an iconic figure in Eddie Constantine's Lemmy Caution, a perfect blend of the 20th century's great genres S.F. and the detective novel. (Not that Lemmy does much detecting, but, hey, its the spirit of the thing.) Heavy sub-text on the importance of words. Bet Noam Chomsky would like it if he saw it. Obligatory absent DVD complaint: Germany 90 Nine Zero, effectively the sequal as Lemmy Caution returns to a post-wall Berlin. I have a bootleg VHS and that is NOT sufficient.
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Alphaville (Version française)
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