In honor of the 50th anniversary of Jean-Luc Godard's film Alphaville of 1965.
See also Film Studies for Free's Celebration of Alphaville's birthday on May 5th 2015.
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 films traumas related to the past, and related to the cold logic of modernity, still resonates with today’s reality. Just replace ‘Alphaville’ with ‘NSA’ and think of Lemmy Caution as Edward Snowdon, 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 to the past and an imaginary future, but to 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.
‘In control societies, the key thing is no longer a signature or number but a code [that function as] password […]. The digital language of control is made up of codes indicating whether access to some information should be allowed or denied. We’re no longer dealing with a duality of mass and individual. Individuals become “dividuals” and masses become samples, data, markets, or “banks.”’ Gilles Deleuze, ‘Postscript on Control Societies’ (1990)