I was only able to squeeze in one movie for Day 4, but it was a doozy.
Alphaville (1965); viewing: first
Godard's follow up to 1964's A Married Woman was the stylish and strange Alphaville, a blending of classic noir and sci-fi genres that saw Godard cast French star Eddie Constantine in the role of Lemmy Caution, an agent from the Outer Lands who has infiltrated the city of Alphaville posing as a journalist, who in reality is on a muti-part mission: to destory Alpha 60, the super-computer that runs Alphaville, and locate and kill its creator Dr. Von Braun. Anna Karina (divorced from Godard by this point but present nevertheless) plays a prostitute named Natasha, who in addition to being Eddie's eventual love interest, is also Von Braun's daughter. Complicating matters further, Alpha 60 has outlawed the expression of any emotion in Alphaville, so the brainwashed Karina has no concept of "love", and thus can't reciprocate Eddie's feelings.
It is a wholly unique and interesting entry into the Godard canon, and it once again felt like Godard at still this early point in his career was pushing himself into new and exciting territory. There is a bit of a sci-fi nerd within me, so seeing Godard put his unique spin on this specific genre was pretty thrilling. With the city of Alphaville he creates his own version of a future dystopian society, flooded with an ominous atmosphere that's made all the more fascinating as he explores the intricacies of this crazy place and inevitably sprinkles on one philosophical reflection after the other. Among those discussed is one that was also prominent in A Married Woman, and that is the idea of people living in the past versus people living in the present. I think it marks a subtle, yet interesting parallel between the two films, each that in one way or another deal with a female in dire need of liberation.
Eddie Constantine is just remarkable as Lemmy Caution. With his no bullshit attitude, awesome voice, and scarred face in all its haunted glory, he literally could have popped right off the page of any old private eye cartoon. Karina is equally good as the innocent who has in most ways been robbed of her soul. The voice of Alpha 60 (a constant throughout the movie) is quite a trip; a guttural and disturbing ooze of a voice, a character in itself, and the scene where it interrogates Constantine in a room was one of my very favorites. Another chilling scene comes when Constantine is led by Karina to a large swimming pool, where people who have shown "illogical behavior", that is, shown human emotion, and are given last words before being shot to death and dumped in the pool, as spectators look on unaffected. Alphaville did become a little muddled for me in the middle, but my attention was always sustained during these periods by the sheer screen presence of its stars and by Godard's always arresting visuals, of which there is certainly no shortage of here. It's a weird, yet captivating and occasionally poignant tale, constantly brimming with ideas, about the worth of human emotion. It also contains one of the strongest and most touching endings I've seen in a Godard picture yet. As food for thought, I'll leave you with this interesting excerpt from Richard Brody's book Everything Is Cinema :
"Alphaville would be another attempt, like A Married Woman, to show that Karina's true emotions had been distorted and suppressed by irresistible external influences and forces. The main drama of the film would be the effort of Lemmy Caution to teach Karina's character to say the words "I love you." Through an extraordinary filter of genre, it would be a film in which Godard was desperate for life to imitate art."