Femme Fatales and a Hegelian Computer: Jean-Luc Goddard’s Must-See Film, “Alphaville”

Alphaville is at once innovative and thought provoking.

Made in 1965, the film seems to inadvertently capture the French philosophical shift from Existentialism to Postmodernism. At the time of the making of this film, Sartre was “in” and Derrida was young, but up and coming. In this film, therefore, there is a great deal of existential angst, irony, and resistence to machine rationality, and also, anticipating Postmodernism, a persistent attempt on the part of the director to keep the audience disoriented.

And because of the film’s emotional and intellectual complexity, and darkly beautiful “film noir” atmosphere, it can be watched again and again for new things that one might have missed on previous viewings.

Intelligent, college educated Bohemians will enjoy this film for its Sixties-era French atmosphere, and Libertarians who like George Orwell and Ayn Rand will find the evil Hegelian computer thought provoking.

People who might not like this film would include anyone who the admires Hegel, monotheism, or North Korea (as the computer seems to be a cold intellectual god who kills dissenters, not out of spite, but in the name of necessity, logic, and the collective good).

My favorite scenes involve the State’s knife wielding, bikini-clad female executioners.

Here’s the film at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Alphaville-Criterion-Collection-Eddie-Constantine/dp/0780021541/ref=cm_cr-mr-img

And here’s a scene from Alphaville:

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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1 Response to Femme Fatales and a Hegelian Computer: Jean-Luc Goddard’s Must-See Film, “Alphaville”

  1. mrsemmapeel says:

    Great film, I love it’s use (or abuse) of pop art, by stripping it of all it’s colour and context. It’s one of my favourite Godard’s.

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