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500 Five-Star: Alphaville (1965)

September 13, 2011

Back into the swing of things…



When I think about what I want to say about Alphaville, my mind keeps coming back to one thing: Exit Through the Gift Shop.  In that film, an amateur cameraman creates his own street art show.  The art is absolutely awful, but because of the hype surrounding the show, it is hailed as genius.  See where I’m going here?

Godard, to my eyes, is an arse.  He is a writer, theorist and philosopher who makes incredibly self-conscious films; films that pretty much tick all the boxes of an ‘arthouse’ list and that are specifically designed for intellectuals like himself.  However, just because someone has the desire, materials and backing to make films, that doesn’t mean they should.  And just because the films feature cut scenes of lights atop a building, and dreadful special effects in an attempt to be ironic, that doesn’t mean they’re clever.  All that does is make me picture Godard sitting behind his camera screaming ‘Look at me, look at me!  Aren’t I a genius?  Don’t you wish you could be as intelligent as me?  BOW DOWN TO MY SUPERIOR THINKING!’.  In fact, that’s really all Alphaville is.  It’s Godard screaming at you for an hour and half, demanding you recognise his brilliance.  It’s embarrassing to watch, and if it wasn’t a Godard film, it would be laughed at and mocked in the same way Ed Wood movies are.  Ed Wood might have been awful, but at least he had a genuine passion and wish to entertain people.  Godard, on the other hand, gets away with murder because he has five minute long philosophical speeches in his films…so, hey, they must be clever.  I can only imagine the thoughts that run through the head of those who worship films like Alphaville: ‘well, it looked crap, there was no story, the acting was awful…but then there was a lot of intellectual babble in there that I didn’t really understand, so it can’t really be as awful as it seemed.  Obviously, my inferior brain is missing something.  Oh hang on…maybe it’s postmodern!  Yes, that’s it!  It’s  supposed to be nonsense.  Godard has made the film awful on purpose.  It’s genius, pure genius!’.  Oh dear.  I don’t know, maybe Alphaville is postmodern.  What it isn’t is entertaining, interesting or beautiful, which begs the question: why exactly am I meant to waste my time caring?   If I’m going to spend my time analysing something, it needs to be worth my while.  However, I’m still bemoaning the 90 minutes of my life wasted on just watching Alphaville, so I’m certainly not going to spend any longer thinking about it than I have to.



I’m sure Godard would bemoan my sad inability to appreciate the deconstruction of Hollywood science-fiction, or whatever the hell Alphaville is supposed to symbolise, but I don’t care.  Give me 13 Going on 30 and Jennifer Garner dancing to Thriller any day of the week.  Empire, I hate you for making me sit through this, and I disagree with you entirely…


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