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Film / Alphaville

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Alphaville: A Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution is a 1965 French New Wave film by Jean-Luc Godard, starring Eddie Constantine and Anna Karina. A Genre-Busting work that mixes dystopian Science Fiction and Film Noir, the film is considered one of the Ur-Examples of Cyberpunk. The film uses no special props or futuristic sets, instead having been shot on in location in Paris, the night-time streets of the capital becoming the streets of Alphaville, while modernist glass and concrete buildings — things that to a 1960's French audience were still rather novel and strange architectural designs — represent the city's interiors.

The story follows secret agent Lemmy Caution (Constantine) as he infiltrates and investigates the futuristic city of Alphaville, under the guise of a journalist. Alphaville is a dystopian, alienated society, where free thought and individualist concepts like love, poetry, and emotion are forbidden, and logic and order is strictly enforced under the threat of execution. The city is ruled by the mysterious Professor von Braun and under constant Sinister Surveillance by his creation, the sentient and dictatorial Alpha 60 computer.


This films contains examples of:

  • Big Bad: Alpha 60.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Caution is captured and interrogated, but despite clearly hiding something, Alpha 60 allows him to go free...because it doesn't know what Caution is hiding. Scratch that, Bond villains are much smarter than this thing.
  • Bread and Circuses: Despite illogical behavior and emotions being forbidden, prostitutes are abundant in Alphaville.
  • Cool Starship: Completely averted. Caution's "spaceship" looks suspiciously like an unremarkable car, and hyperspace resembles a road.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Those who refuse to assimilate or kill themselves are placed on a diving board, shot in the back with a machine gun so they fall into the water, then a group of synchronized swimmers with knives dive in to finish them off.
  • Death by Sex: Another secret agent sent before Caution dies in an odd G-Rated Sex version of this.
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  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: A main theme of the film. As a very archetypical Hardboiled Detective oozing with old-fashioned machismo, Lemmy Caution finds himself in sharp conflict with the puritanical society order Alpha 60 enforces in Alphaville.
  • Galactic Conqueror: Alpha 60 plans to extend its reach to other galaxies.
  • Genre Shift: The previous Lemmy Caution films were fairly straightforward Film Noir episodes. This movie marked a sudden shift to Science Fiction.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Caution is technically a secret agent, but with his hat, trenchcoat, and weathered visage he pulls off this look.
  • Love Is a Crime: As Love is a highly potent emotion, Alpha 60 is especially zealous in cracking down on it.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Natacha Von Braun.
  • May–December Romance: Natacha is half Caution's age, but winds up falling for him.
  • Shout-Out: Many of Alpha 60's lines are direct quotes from the poems of Jorge Luis Borges (the irony being that poetry is one of the things the computer has outlawed in Alphaville).
  • Straw Vulcan: An entire city populated with them.
  • Transplanted Character Fic: Lemmy Caution was originally a detective in a series of B-movies.