Analysis of the Film Alphaville
The film Alphaville as directed by Jean-Luc Godard (1965) is a precursor of the challenges of the modern world, where scientific developments and overreliance to logic threatens the flourishing of natural emotions, love, and human compassion. In some sense, this film could be understood in terms of a critique of science and modernity in their quest to spur human development. The world of science measures progress and human development from the point of view of measurements and experimentations.
In this film, Lemmy Caution invades the scientific city of Alphaville with a range of objectives, which partly includes the assassination of the professor von Braun (Godard). The professor creates a world that outlaws emotions and punishes by killing people found to have succumbed to these “illogical” qualities. Gradually, the entire world of Alphaville is withdrawn from natural human qualities by replacing emotions with scientific concepts. The result is a world that gravitates towards self-destruction, and which becomes a threat to other societies that do not subscribe to its own laws.
This film is a reminder of some of the perils of scientific developments. The past decades have seen rapid developments in the world of technology as scientists seek all possible ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness in all discourses of human concern. Generally, the development of a system that relies on scientific knowledge might be assumed a positive, even laudable step. However, such developments acquire negative qualities whenever they invade into the natural discourses that are controlled by the natural qualities of humanity. Technically, the society of Alphaville as controlled by the computer program challenges the basic tenets that support human emotion and compassion. In some sense, human beings and machinery are made into a uniform continuum that must exist in perfect harmony according to the strict boundaries provided by the professor.
It might be important to consider the effects of increased reliance on scientific concepts of developments on the society. Past and recent analyses of social trends have revealed a worrying increase in the cases of family disintegration and divorce in the world. The trends shows that the most developed parts of the world are more affected by the collapse of the family unit as compared to the developing parts of the world. For instance, statistics indicate that the family unit in the United States has always been under the constant menace of collapse (Wells and McFadden 59). This reality could be explained in form of the pressure that derives from the world of logic and science. Scientific progress, as shown in Alphaville has the potential of disrupting the harmonious survival of humanity. As such, it becomes important to exercise caution when embracing systems that are significantly reliant on the laws of science.
By their very nature, the laws of science are limited and narrow. They cannot comprehend the complexity of human nature. In order for these laws to govern human existence, they must fight against systems that cannot be reduced into clear theories. Matters of love, care and compassion cannot be quantified. Value judgments have metaphysical qualities in nature. They cannot lend themselves to explanations founded on the laws of logic. Due to this fact, it becomes necessary to investigate the place of science within the basic survival of humanity. Essentially, it is impossible for science to destroy the governing laws of human compassion, emotions, and feelings without destroying the entire humanity.
One of the issues that are discussed within the concept of science is its role in the process of human development. Some social researchers have identified a growing gap between the world of science and nature. Science dehumanizes humanity by promoting the laws of logic above those of emotions. Warfare, human abuses, and other catastrophic occurrences have been blamed on the laws of logic (Porter 30). Logical pursuit of political ends have often involved the development of the most sophisticated and catastrophic weaponry, which are meant to maintain world power. Some scholars have argued that only a return to the basic human instincts of humanity would rescue the world from the imminence of annihilation given the continued development of nuclear arsenals. As such it becomes necessary to moderate scientific developments with natural concepts, which are necessarily grounded in compassion and care.
In Sharpville, detective Lemmy Caution represents the positive disruptive force that seeks to restore human love and emotion in a world that has grown increasingly mute and withdrawn into the shells of science. It might be necessary to examine the manner in which the ideal of love has been disrupted by modern technological devices. For instance, expressions of love are codified and stored into smart phones such that it becomes merely a mechanical task to choose and send a message of love to a close family member. Such developments have destroyed human expressions and converted the world into a loveless space in which everything must be represented by the rules of science. On this note, the modern world must contend with possibilities of increased conflicts and uncontrolled passions because the natural structures have been destroyed.
Unlike in the film Sharpville, there might be no interventions from brave detectives, whose efforts would spell a return to the laws of nature about love and human compassion. Further, scenarios have always pointed to the direction of increased sophistication where the world will increase its levels of dependence on scientific tenets and logical concepts. Discourses of globalization, liberalization, and global citizenship have demonstrated the capacity to work both ways in contributing both positive and negative qualities to the growth and development of human societies. The pressure of lobbyists and pressure groups should rise up to challenge the gradual disintegration of humanity into the unfeeling world of scientific dominance. This film effectively warned of the growing shape of humanity, which would collapse to practices that militate against love, passion, and compassion.
Some of the issues that are explored in this film include the realization of the difference between needs and wants of the human society. Science should supplement the natural efforts that are meant to supply human needs and wants. Overreliance on the laws of science has converted many societies into automated entities, which respond to situations in ways that mirror the rigidity of logic and methods of science. The film cuts into various discourses of human concern in order to illustrate the fact that the level of threats faced by humanity could spread into nearly all discourses of human interest. Many of the grim possibilities that the film projected have been felt with surprising precision in the modern world. Such indications reinforce the view that the world of science must engage with cultural precepts, mores, values, and traditions in order to engage meaningfully with the natural qualities of humanity.
Godard, Jean-Luc. (Dir). Alphaville. 1965, (Film).
Porter, Noah. Science and Humanity; Or, a Plea for the Superiority of Spirit Over Matter. New York: BiblioBazaar, 2008
Wells, Headlam and McFadden, Johnjoe. Human Nature: Fact and Fiction: Literature, Science and Human Nature. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006
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