This was originally published on September 19, 2011
Alphaville, billed as the inspiration for Terminator and Blade Runner, is a 1960’s dystopian film. The movie, filmed in Black and White, starred the late Eddie Constantine, an American born French actor.
It is a film noir style dystopian adventure. The main character Lemmy Caution plays a hard-nosed secret agent who goes undercover as Ivan Johnson, American journalist, gathering evidence on the planned and regulated ubersociety named Alphaville.
While the plot appears to be set in the future, the characters reference events that were modern and recent to their time. However, the appearance of Alphaville, set to the backdrop of 1960’s France does seem futuristic because of the architecture of the time, including such staples as the Louvre. The interior scenes also have the appearance of being futuristic because of modern design elements, and the abundance of white walls, which after seeing THX 1138 has become a marker for the future.
The story was interesting and combined the idea of a society enslaved by logic and calculations, similar to the world of We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. Alphaville also includes the concept of rewriting words to remove emotion from society, which mirrors George Orwell’s concept of newspeak. Although, the story seems to be a B movie, the writing is acceptable and it supposes a near future type situation that reminds me of Terminator and 1984.
Some parts of the story were annoying and took me out of the story. I found it very grating that the movie would play the same suspenseful rift often at improper times, leading me to tweet “the suspenseful music is becoming suspenseful annoying #alphaville.” Later on, the main character Lemmy Caution spoke about some fictional characters as though they were real, even though they had nothing to do with the story. At some point in the film, Lemmy Caution asks for the whereabouts of Dick Tracy and Flash Gordon and he continuously brings up a Dr. Nosferatu. I kept half expecting a vampire to come out of the shadows and grab someone or for Flash Gordon to appear while singing a Queen Song, but it never happened. For them to use these character names instead of creating their own reeked of bad writing.
Overall, if a person enjoys dystopian movies and books, I believe that they will enjoy this movie for at least its inspirational qualities. I know that I liked the movie and was thoroughly entrenched within the world that it created. I thought it was intelligent and a very good quality dystopian film, at least until he asked about Flash Gordon and I laughed.
Next Week We Watch Daybreakers