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french films > Alphaville, A Strange Case Of Lemmy Caution
Alphaville, A Strange Case Of Lemmy Caution
cast: Eddie Constantine, Anna Karina, Akim Tamiroff, Howard Vernon
director: Jean Luc-Godard
Hard-boiled detective Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) arrives in Alphaville with the sole intention of bringing his latest target to justice: Professor von Braun. Lemmy soon discovers that Alphaville is like nothing he has ever experienced; love has been abolished and emotion punishable by death. Alpha-60, a super computer created by Professor von Braun seemingly rules over the totalitarian state, controlling thoughts and actions of its inhabitants. When Lemmy meets the Professor’s daughter, Natasha (played by Godard’s then muse and wife, the sublime Anna Karina) he is led even further down the proverbial rabbit hole into Alpha-60’s headquarters with devastating results.
A beautiful generic hybrid of sci-fi and part film noir, Godard revels in the neo-noir landscape, finding little difficulty in adapting Peter Cheyney’s novel himself, carefully constructing clear and chilling social parallels between his fictional future-world and 1960’s France å la mode.
Credit should certainly be lavished upon Eddie Constantine for his self-possessed portrayal of the parodic protagonist; a character he arguably spent the past decade helping to create and define from his previous performances as a detective in American-influenced French film-noirs.
Since his emergence in the late 1950’s Godard’s New Wave style was now at the height of its exposure, rendering the director’s impact and the audience’s reactions somewhat desensitised; a fact which elevates the film even more for as the auteur generously applies his Nouvelle Vague techniques to Alphaville, he manages to cultivate a distinctive and fresh landscape, rich in both visual and thematic style, that the likes of Ridley Scott and James Cameron would later cite, over forty-years later, as a heavy influence.
Blade Runner, The Terminator, Equilibrium, V for Vendetta; the irrepressible and wide-reaching Godard proves he can do futuristic distopia with the best of em!