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From the outlands, agent Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine)
arrives at Alphaville to find professor Von Braun (Howard Vernon), a task
that his predecessor Henri Dickson (Akim Tamiroff) failed to fulfill, as
Lemmy finds him to be a hopeless alcoholic, who dies before his very eyes,
before he can give him vital information.
However, Caution soon finds the professor's daughter Natacha (Anna
Karina), but that lead seemms to amount to little, since she, like all the
inhabitants of Alphaville, seems to be brainwashed by the city's
almighty computer Alpha 60 ... it seems Caution only managed to
escape the brainwashing because he gave the computer a false identity,
that of a journalist from Figaro-Pravda.
It takes a while though before Caution can break through Natacha's
mental programming, by reading her poetry full of words she doesn't
understand - cause you see, the brainwashing is based on a dictionary
called The Bible that tells the citizens of Alphaville which words
do, and which words do no longer exist, and a new bible is written every
day, omitting ever more words. However, when he finally has conme through
to Natacha, he is arrested and brought back to Alpha 60 for further
questioning - but feeds the computer with questions that will eventually
destroy the computer like a virus. Then he shoots his way out of the Alpha
60 building and meets with Von Braun, to find him a hopeless megelomaniac
... and when Von Braun threatens him, he shoots him as well ...
With Von Braun & especially the computer gone, chaos breaks loose,
& without mind control, many of the Alphavillians die ... Lemmy though
manages to fetch Natacha and escape - and wish Alphaville a better future.
From 1953 - and the film La Mome Vert-de-Gris/Poison Ivy (director Bernard
Borderie) - onwards, American actor Eddie Constantine found success in a
French series of films about the super agent Lemmy Caution. By 1965
however, the formula had grown somewhat stale - even though a very similar
formula, but on a larger scale, was applied to the then incredibly successful James Bond
series. To infuse the Lemmy Caution-series with new blood,
someone had the idea to cross the formula with then-popular Nouvelle
Vague filmmaking techniques, and thus Jean-Luc Godard, a fan of pulp
detectives as well as the Nouvelle Vague director was hired and
pretty much given carte blanche ... the idea (back then) did not prove too
successful, since the Lemmy Caution series was suspended after this one -
that said though, nowadays Alphaville is probably the most popular of the Lemmy
The film might not be much as a routine pulp detective flick, but as an
experiment, it is nothing short of fascinating, a mix of pulp cinema,
George Orwell's 1984, and poetic and philosophical ideas,
with Paris masquerading as a cold, futuristic, anti-utopian city (without
relying on anything but clever camera set-ups), and Eddie Constantine
giving his usual, unique performance as the lead character.
Not to be missed.