Tuesday 5 May 2015

STUDY OF A SINGLE FILM: On Godard's ALPHAVILLE - Dystopia 50 Years On!

Frame grab from Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965)

"One never understands anything...then suddenly, one evening...you end up dying of it."
Lemmy Caution, Alphaville

In 1965, Jean-Luc Godard—the quintessential European auteur, the first cinephile director, the man who took it upon himself to reinvent the cinema and then to declare its death—directed a black-and-white science-fiction film noir: Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution. Mixing genres, combining a distant future and the recent past, pop and high art, total alienness and twentieth century Paris, dystopian scenarios and modernist architecture, the celebration of familiar tropes and the annihilation of stereotypes, Godard made a highly hybrid and visionary film that was many things at once, but also irreducibly singular. With international funding, an expatriate American lead actor (famous in France and Germany for his roles as British pulp character Lemmy Caution), foregrounding Paris simultaneously as the heart of European modernism and as the standardised, international metropolis of the future, Alphaville nodded to the tropes of an Americanised global culture while being utterly European—and the product of the post-New Wave coproduction practices of continental art cinema. Alphaville was a film that both exploited and exploded the tropes, conventions and expectations that constituted “European cinema” as a commercial product, as a critical concept and as an aesthetic category. Laura Rascaroli, Alphaville editorial

Fifty years ago today Jean-Luc Godard's dystopian science fiction film Alphaville was released in France. It remains one of the most compelling fictional studies of 'technological totalitarianism', as Andrew Sarris put it, ever produced for the cinema. To commemorate this important anniversary Film Studies For Free publishes its usual list of related scholarly links and wonderful embedded videos (including a brand new tribute video on the film by renowned film scholar Patricia Pisters) on the subject of this redoubtable film.

In an era in which many aspects of the dystopia so brilliantly and originally portrayed in Godard's film seem only too real, FSFF additionally celebrates the French director's 'strange adventure', and much of the politically committed writing about it, by declaring its solidarity with ongoing struggles to defend progressive and free education around the world, including the Amsterdam New University movement (see also here), and other valuable challenges to the logic of "Market-Driven Education" in the UK (including at the LSE) and elsewhere, including the defence of Film Studies in Hungary (see the petition here).

Finally, FSFF would also like to flag up a CFP for the wonderful journal named after Godard's film - Alphaville is planning a special issue on Women and Screen Media in the Twenty-First Century.
See the details here: http://alphavillejournal.com/Submissions.html#CFP

Coming very soonFSFF's roundup of online resources resulting from this year's annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Montréal!

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Jean-Luc Godard's film Alphaville (1965).
Watching Alphaville fifty years after its making in 2015, most striking is the enduring presence of wounds of the Second World War. The ruins, scars and the horror of the war can be felt in every image of this film, even if it is set in the future. But what is even more striking is that so much of the film's traumas related to the past, and related to the cold logic of modernity, still resonate with today’s reality. Just replace ‘Alphaville’ with ‘NSA’ and think of Lemmy Caution as Edward Snowden, and the future that Godard captured in Paris of the 1960s represented by the totalitarianism of the Alpha 60 machine has transformed into the more invisible algorithms of the billions of metadata patterns that trace, predict and control our steps in today’s global digital networks. 
The allegory I mention in this video-essay not only concerns [...] the past and an imaginary future, but [...] the actual present of our control societies that have taken the snake-like intricateness and hard to grasp modulations announced by Gilles Deleuze about twenty-five years ago. Patricia Pisters 

Henrike Lindenberger, 'On Alphaville: The Crystal Maze', The Audiovisual Essay: Practice and Theory of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies, September 2014. Online at: http://reframe.sussex.ac.uk/audiovisualessay/reflections/intransition-1-3/henrike-lindenberger/ Also fCurated at [in]Transition, 1.3, 2014 by Cristina Alvarez López

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