25 Alphaville

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Gregory
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#26 Post by Gregory » Sat Oct 20, 2007 7:56 pm

domino harvey wrote:I have this DVD and it's... like three minutes long.
The Soderbergh short is, not the DVD, of course -- just to clarify. I watched it a while back and was pretty disappointed, though I probably shouldn't have been because I've never been knocked over by anything Soderbergh has directed, and I've seen about 2/3 of his films at least once. Anyway, I don't really recommend this particular short, although the Wholphin series overall has proven to be well worth the money -- really something for almost everyone on every single release.

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sevenarts
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#27 Post by sevenarts » Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:24 am

domino harvey wrote:and Magic H8 Ball, I know it's obvious but the next readily-available Godard film you should see is Breathless.
Normally I'd say that's not a bad rec (although, for 60s Godard, Breathless would personally fall in my bottom 5), but for someone who really responded especially to the ideas in Alphaville, I'd say he'd be better off jumping into some later 60s stuff like Masculin feminin or A Married Woman or the fantastic Godard segments from Ro.Go.Pa.G and Love and Anger.

Alphaville is also among my favorite Godards, and was one of the first few I saw as well. The first time I saw it, I was blown away but felt that a lot of it had gone over my head because it was so dense in ideas and elliptical in its narrative. Revisiting it the second time helped the experience sink in a great deal, and this was probably the point at which my enduring love of Godard was cemented. Prior to this I'd only seen the relatively lightweight Band of Outsiders and Breathless, and the depth and complexity of this film was a real revelation.

MHB, you have a ton of great films ahead of you if you continue to explore Godard, enjoy it! And no matter what anyone tells you, don't stop after the 60s either -- Godard continues to be relevant and exciting right up until today.

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domino harvey
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#28 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:39 am

truthfully, any Godard film is worth seeing.

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#29 Post by Antoine Doinel » Fri Apr 25, 2008 6:38 pm

Alphaville illustrated.

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colinr0380
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#30 Post by colinr0380 » Tue May 06, 2008 2:03 pm

I had forgotten that the Criterion disc of Alphaville did not feature the trailer, which was a shame as I think trailers for Godard films are often wonderful in their own right! I like the "le nouveau film et le film nouveau de..." in Alphaville, which I suppose is meant to contrast with "le nouveau film traditionelle de..." from the Contempt trailer.

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ando
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Re: 25 Alphaville

#31 Post by ando » Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:32 pm

I don't understand how Godard and his art crew honestly believed that audiences would accept what is plainly 1960s set design as some kind of world of the future. One of the main points that Tarkovsky discovered about his science fiction foray, Solaris was that the narrative must not get mired in production value or the film quickly becomes dated. (It's also one of the reasons why he didn't care for Kubrics 2001.) Now I quite realize that Alphaville is quite different in tone from a film like Solaris, but I feel that that basic tenet still applies. I can only receive such obvious uses of period props in Alphaville as a kind of tongue-in-cheek approach or satiric commentary on such uses of gimicry in other low budget science fiction films; the worst of which is the use of the voice track of Alpha 60 alongside close up shots of a sputtering ventilator. And, of course, the B-film allure would not be complete without the use of scantily clad women in correspondingly insignificant roles. I could chuckle at the use of bathing suit beauties fishing out newly shot enemies to the fascist state from a swimming pool if their use had an equal dose of irony (perhaps, Godard could have had a follow up scene where we see the bimboes removing bullet-proof vests from the victims - after all, no one seems to bleed after being riddled with lead), but as it is Godard's bimbos are simply... bimbos.

The intercutting is most annoying (Einstein's overquoted relativity equation in neon, forwards and backwards, for instance, is about as instructive as a two way street sign - which in this case, would have been in tune with Godard's wacky goings-on).

I like the general idea of the film. But Godard doesn't expand his world far enough or explore deep enough for my sustained interest. He simply rattles on...

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FerdinandGriffon
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Re: 25 Alphaville

#32 Post by FerdinandGriffon » Tue Dec 23, 2008 12:51 am

ando wrote:I don't understand how Godard and his art crew honestly believed that audiences would accept what is plainly 1960s set design as some kind of world of the future. One of the main points that Tarkovsky discovered about his science fiction foray, Solaris was that the narrative must not get mired in production value or the film quickly becomes dated.
Alphaville the city is not meant to be a believable "world of the future", it is meant to be an very thinly disguised version of 1960's Paris. Alphaville the film was not scientific speculation or a cautionary fable of the future, it was a biting, angry commentary on Godard's place and time, on the dehumanizing effects of technology and modern architecture, on the Cold War and cultural crisis. By replacing whiz bang gadgets and Buck Rodgers spaceships with old telephones and Ford Galaxies, Godard moves the focus away from production values and onto the ideas, the characters, the city. In other word, Alphaville is a film perfectly in alignment with Tarkovsky's views. In crafting a deliberately contemporary and eventually retro aesthetic, Godard paved the way for some of the best science fiction films ever made. Blade Runner, Gattaca, The Element of Crime and, indeed, Tarkovsky's Stalker are just a few of Alphaville's descendants. It also works as an ironic play on genre tropes, revealing the pulpy sham of Science fiction and detective films in general. As for the "bimbo" scene, it's one of the bitterest (and funniest) in the film, a comment, amongst other things, on the peculiarly French idea of execution as spectacle.

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bunuelian
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Re: 25 Alphaville

#33 Post by bunuelian » Wed Dec 24, 2008 2:11 am

Are you basing your idea that these other films are "descendants" of Alphaville on anything, or are you just speaking loosely? I don't see much connection between those films and Alphaville, at least relative to science fiction authors.

All good sci-fi is a meditation on the present.

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FerdinandGriffon
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Re: 25 Alphaville

#34 Post by FerdinandGriffon » Wed Dec 24, 2008 1:46 pm

I'm not sure what you mean by "relative to science fiction authors", but there are certainly very strong connections between Alphaville and the films I mentioned previously. Alphaville's distinctive aesthetic, a mixture of trendy 60's architecture and design with the fashions and mood of 30's and 40's gangster films, is clearly echoed in Gattaca and Blade Runner. A quick jaunt over to IMDB's references page for Alphaville will confirm this. I'd say that Stalker also borrows from Alphaville's concept of a "used future", an invention usually attributed to Star Wars but which I'd say Godard pioneered far earlier. As for The Element of Crime, which is really just The Third Man as remade by Andrei Tarkovsky, all of the Alphaville-esque elements of Stalker's aesthetic are just amplified by the move to a 1940's thriller plotline.

P.S. Delicatessen, La Antena, and Brazil are three more very fine examples of how influential Alphaville continues to be.

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ando
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Re: 25 Alphaville

#35 Post by ando » Thu Dec 25, 2008 4:14 am

FerdinandGriffon wrote:By replacing whiz bang gadgets and Buck Rodgers spaceships with old telephones and Ford Galaxies, Godard moves the focus away from production values and onto the ideas, the characters, the city. In other word, Alphaville is a film perfectly in alignment with Tarkovsky's views.
Hardly. How can such deliberately stylized production values shift viewer focus from the spectre of objects to the realm of ideas? When I reflect on Alphaville images of retro-chic 1960s Paris dominate, not trenchant social commentary, much less the kind of human spiritual dilemmas in which Tarkovsky's characters are often found.
As for the "bimbo" scene, it's one of the bitterest (and funniest) in the film, a comment, amongst other things, on the peculiarly French idea of execution as spectacle.
Execution as spectacle certainly isn't a French idea. And as employed here the device seems overdone. My comment was pointed toward Godard's use of the female in Alphaville. None of them seem to have more use than to provide variations on the classic male gaze found in noir-ish crime, thriller and sci-fi genres. They're so repeatedly objectified that by the time we get to the bimbos in the pool scene the joke is played out.

As an addendum: the pool scene is funny, but not because of the bimbos. The seemingly innocuous phrases yelled out by the condemned ("I have something to say!", "I have an opinion!" and the like) before they're pummeled with bullets, given their placement here, are the sharpest barbs.
Last edited by ando on Sun Dec 28, 2008 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 25 Alphaville

#36 Post by solaris72 » Thu Dec 25, 2008 4:15 pm

FerdinandGriffon wrote:Alphaville's distinctive aesthetic, a mixture of trendy 60's architecture and design with the fashions and mood of 30's and 40's gangster films, is clearly echoed in Gattaca and Blade Runner. A quick jaunt over to IMDB's references page for Alphaville will confirm this. I'd say that Stalker also borrows from Alphaville's concept of a "used future", an invention usually attributed to Star Wars but which I'd say Godard pioneered far earlier. As for The Element of Crime, which is really just The Third Man as remade by Andrei Tarkovsky, all of the Alphaville-esque elements of Stalker's aesthetic are just amplified by the move to a 1940's thriller plotline.

P.S. Delicatessen, La Antena, and Brazil are three more very fine examples of how influential Alphaville continues to be.
Just because IMDb says Blade Runner references Alphaville doesn't make it so. Blade Runner's main influences are Metropolis, Phil Dick, and Metal Hurlant. I've never read Dick mention Alphaville, and you'd be reaching to draw a connection between Alphaville and Metal Hurlant (anyway, the specific Metal Hurlant piece that Ridley Scott drew from was drawn by Moebius and written by Dan O'Bannon, who himself is obviously very influenced by Phil Dick).
As for Tarkovsky and Alphaville I really don't see it.
Now, Gattaca and Code 46, I can definitely see the influencce.

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Polybius
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Re: 25 Alphaville

#37 Post by Polybius » Sat Dec 27, 2008 12:39 am

solaris72 wrote: Blade Runner's main influences are Metropolis, Phil Dick, and Metal Hurlant.
With lesser, but not insignifigant, doses of Raymond Chandler and Cyberpunk tropes.

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Re: 25 Alphaville

#38 Post by Noiretirc » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:12 am

My very first embryonic reaction to this one was .......er........

It's cold and sad. Discreet Charm meets Naked Lunch, with the Original Star Trek mixed in, and a Touch Of Evil.

It's a big jump / turning point from All Godard That Came Before. His cynicism really shows now. There's a ton of jokes, but they aren't the LOL kind. He's getting frustrated. Clearly.

This is so very 2009. This is his least dated 59-65 film, perhaps.

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Re: 25 Alphaville

#39 Post by Tootletron » Tue Feb 03, 2009 5:05 am

Wish there were plans to have it remastered/re-issued.

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Re: 25 Alphaville

#40 Post by Noiretirc » Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:05 am

I wonder if Terry Gilliam has publicly praised Godard. Alphazil.

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FerdinandGriffon
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Re: 25 Alphaville

#41 Post by FerdinandGriffon » Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:37 am

solaris72 wrote: Just because IMDb says Blade Runner references Alphaville doesn't make it so. Blade Runner's main influences are Metropolis, Phil Dick, and Metal Hurlant. I've never read Dick mention Alphaville, and you'd be reaching to draw a connection between Alphaville and Metal Hurlant (anyway, the specific Metal Hurlant piece that Ridley Scott drew from was drawn by Moebius and written by Dan O'Bannon, who himself is obviously very influenced by Phil Dick).
As for Tarkovsky and Alphaville I really don't see it.
Now, Gattaca and Code 46, I can definitely see the influencce.
Both Alphaville and Blade Runner share a distinctly noir storyline, complete with trenchcoated detective hero, transplanted into a retro-futuristic city dominated by flashing neon signs and modernist architecture. The protagonist falls in love with a girl who's had her brain reprogrammed by the computer/computer engineer. After the demise of the aforementioned baddie, the hero escapes with the girl, to the Outlands/Colonies.
I'm not knocking Blade Runner, I love the film dearly, but it clearly owes a lot to Godard's film, whilst at the same time creating an aesthetic that is distinctive and original in its own right. It's practically irrelevant that Dick may not have been familiar with Godard, as Blade Runner and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? are vastly different in style, tone, characterization, plot and everything else.

Gilliam on Alphaville: "Christ! 'Alphaville' is so simple," Gilliam says. "But Godard caught an atmosphere with no money. I admire that film tremendously. I wish I could be that restrained and restricted."

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Matt
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Re: 25 Alphaville

#42 Post by Matt » Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:59 am

FerdinandGriffon wrote:trenchcoated detective hero, transplanted into a retro-futuristic city dominated by flashing neon signs and modernist architecture. The protagonist falls in love with a girl who's had her brain reprogrammed by the computer/computer engineer. After the demise of the aforementioned baddie, the hero escapes with the girl, to the Outlands/Colonies.
Change a couple of words and that's the plot to every other noir film ever made.

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Re: 25 Alphaville

#43 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Feb 03, 2009 12:04 pm

Rivette has acknowledged his long-time admiration of PK Dick. And I believe Rivette's Paris Belongs to Us is the best Dick-inspired film ever (no story, just the general tone and ambience of PKD World). Apparently, Dick was already known and admired in France well before 1960 . If Rivette knew about him that early, why not Godard?

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Re: 25 Alphaville

#44 Post by FerdinandGriffon » Tue Feb 03, 2009 12:32 pm

Matt wrote:Change a couple of words and that's the plot to every other noir film ever made.
Well, that's part of my point. Godard's major innovation, and the one that's been most influential, is the transplanting of pointedly dated and clichéd film noir conventions, characters, plot, etc into a futuristic universe in order to comment on what lies between the two: the here and now.

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Re: 25 Alphaville

#45 Post by solaris72 » Tue Feb 03, 2009 5:21 pm

Matt wrote:Change a couple of words and that's the plot to every other noir film ever made.
Exactly. I think the similarities are more a matter of convergent evolution than actual ancestry.

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Re: 25 Alphaville

#46 Post by zedz » Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:31 pm

Noiretirc wrote:I wonder if Terry Gilliam has publicly praised Godard. Alphazil.
If you haven't seen Welles' The Trial yet, that's the one he's most shamelessly aping. Like Alphaville, it's to a very large extent 'found' spectacle.

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Re: 25 Alphaville

#47 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:42 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:Rivette has acknowledged his long-time admiration of PK Dick. And I believe Rivette's Paris Belongs to Us is the best Dick-inspired film ever (no story, just the general tone and ambience of PKD World). Apparently, Dick was already known and admired in France well before 1960 . If Rivette knew about him that early, why not Godard?
Big big BIG decades-long fan if PKD here.

Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said. ahh....

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Re: 25 Alphaville

#48 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:29 am

Apparently PK Dick's death got noted on the front pages of some French papers -- while it barely got mentioned here in the US.

MEK

(A PKD fan for at least 4 decades)

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Re: 25 Alphaville

#49 Post by Noiretirc » Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:02 am

Damn you JLG. I must reattack this one, soon. A shocking degree of "deliberateness" has overtaken the naturalness/improvisationalness/subtlety that I had become accustomed to in Godard 59-64. This feels rushed/forced/too obvious in many respects.

Lemmy pulls me in though. That face!

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Re: 25 Alphaville

#50 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:34 pm

This film never gets old, Noiretirc. Reattack if with flair because it's got a lot going for it in Godard's canon.

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