Wednesday, December 10, 2008


The initially striking thing about this film is how it tends to shift back and forth in its feel. At first it is sort of film noir, then James Bond/Spy/Action Comedy, then film noir again, and then sci-fi etc. It's precicely this bizarre amalgam of genres that make the film so impressive and interesting to watch. Of course the themes that the film presents quickly grab the viewer's attention as well, but the jump from genre to genre is what lured me in initially.

One of the strongest themes seems to be the eradication of anything emotive. The future as presented here seems entirely sterile and mechanistic. Most of the settings in the film are very neutral in appearance, no decoration or art in anything. What little was present was very mechanical or ''corporate art" in appearance. This film seems to be playing with the human fear of technology. Considering when it was made there was probably a strong reaction from those who feared where the growing technology and advances in mechanics were taking humans. Although the subject matter is one of serious debate, the film handles it in a sort of playful way, having fun with the idea. It could be possible that Godard never took the ideas of machines taking over too seriously, and this was how he chose to show it.

Composition-wise, the film was very impressive. Although Godard is an obvious talent that was meant to be praised, I found many of his other films to be often disorienting in their editing and shot composition. This film however, was very impressive. There were frequent long tracking shots, well framed and lit scenes, and the editing was very consistent. As mentioned near the top, the film noir feel of the film was apparent from the start. The use of lighting to emphasize this was particularly effective, especially during the scene when Lemmy is playing with the hanging light bulb.

Initially I thought to myself, "Gee, maybe this is the FIRST sci-fi film!" Of course the thought was ridiculous, there had been many sci-fi films all throughout film history (how I could forget Metropolis, even for a SECOND, I'll never know). The next thought was, "maybe this is the first relevant sci-fi film". This seemed a little better, but only for a moment. It seemed at first that this was made in an era where people may have believed that the future depicted might actually be attainable, that within a century they might actually see cities run almost entirely by machines, etc. This is the beauty of sci-fi, we make the stories to warn us of what our actions and our societies will cause, and then they never come true (1984 has come and gone obviously). The best part is, someday we'll probably get it right, but we'll never be able to look back on it fondly as we can with films like Alphaville. As I said, maybe Godard didn't take it too seriously, maybe he did.

So was it the first sci-fi film? No. Was it the first relevant sci-fi film? No, i'm sure the films made in the past were relevant to what was going on socially at the time. Is it the first modern sci-fi film? This seems to fit. Many of the conventions of sci-fi films that we are so comfortable with today were apparent in this film, and although they may have had a precursor, they were brought together in a way that has influenced many sci-fi films to date.

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