by Bill Harry
Bible/Dictionary is owned by every inhabitant of Alphaville and new
editions are distributed daily. In it, more and more words become forbidden,
words such as redbreast, autumn light, conscience, tears, tenderness
– all cease to exist. The inhabitants of the Outer Countries: Nueva
York, Tokyorama, Florence, don’t wish this mechanical monstrosity to
infest their own Galaxy and have sent in agents on what amounts to a
suicide mission. Caution himself is uncompromisingly tough and treats
violence in an almost casual way, shooting first and not worrying about
the consequences. At one point he knocks down a heavy and drives a car
over his head.
Brainwashing has reduced the inhabitants to electronic slaves; robots to do the bidding of the machine whose computer centres are everywhere. The people move about like somnambulists, topped up with tranquilisers which are provided free in every room. They talk ritualistically. If you say ‘Hello,’ they invariably reply, “Very well, thank you, please.” Caution is escorted to his hotel room by a girl devoid of emotion, a Seductress, Third Class, tattooed with a number on her back.
the 70-year-old Dickson begins to fondle a 20-year-old Seductress and
goes into convulsions, he gives Caution a message before he dies: “Lemmy…conscience…conscience…destroy…make
Alpha 60…destroy itself…tenderness…save those who weep.” Dickson has
left Lemmy a book of poems, Eluard’s ‘The Capital of Pain.’ He sets
off to pick up Natasha who is listening to Alpha 60 give a lecture.
He takes her away. They are seemingly pursued by the voice of the machine,
its lecture continuing. She takes him along to an execution inside a
swimming pool. Lines of men are herded by soldiers with machine guns
onto a diving board. As each falls in, girls armed with knives dive
in and stab the men to death. He’s told that generally 50 men to every
woman are executed. “But what have they done?” he asks. “They behaved
illogically,” he is told.
One man is killed because he wept when his wife died. As the condemned man steps forward he says, “Listen to me, you normals. We see the truth that you no longer see. This truth is, that there is nothing true in man except love and faith, courage and tenderness, generosity and sacrifice: everything else is but the artifice created by the progress of your own blind ignorance.” Lemmy spots Professor Von Braun and tries to speak to him, but is beaten up by his bodyguards. Natasha sees him lying unconscious. A man asks, “You’re not crying, are you?” “No…because it is not allowed,” she answers, but tears fall slowly down her cheeks. Lemmy is taken and interrogated by Alpha 60 . . . . . .
various adventures Lemmy kills the Professor and destroys Alpha 60 by
reading it the poetry of Eluard. As Alphaville begins to break down
he drives out of the city with Natasha. “Don’t turn around,” he tells
her as they enter Inter-sidereal space. It’s a scene immediately similar
to that of Lot and his wife fleeing from Sodom or Orpheus fleeing from
the Underworld with Eurydice. Many years later, the closing scene in
‘Blade Runner’ echoed it.
He looks at her strangely and she knows he expects her to say something in particular. She asks what it is. “I don’t know what to say. At least I don’t know the words, I was never taught them. Please help me,” she pleads.
Lemmy answers, “Impossible, Princess. You’ve got to manage by yourself and only then will you be saved. If you can’t then you are as lost as the dead in Alphaville.” She says, “I…Love…you…I love you.”