Save Those Who Weep: Blade Runner (1982), Alphaville (1965)

In Alphaville, Godard’s low budget, absurdist take on the science fiction genre, the traditional film noir private eye, a cynical and violent Lemmy Caution, inhabits an alternative universe of swimming pool executioners, lexicon erasures, and voice box AIs, yes, but also a Blade Runner-esque collection of barcoded seductresses, robotic enforcers, and an almost complete breakdown of fundamental moral codes. Regardless, Blade Runner is not a remake. Natasha is not Rachael, Lemmy Caution is not Deckard. Professor Vonbraun is not Tyrell. No one seems like a replicant. “I’m fine, thanks. Don’t mention it.” In the city or interzone of Alphaville, the Outer Countries might be Earth. In Blade Runner, the Offworld Colonies might have an Alphaville. Both end with a rediscovery of love and an escape from the city into nothingness. But Alphaville‘s absurdity, where a no is mostly a yes, is totally normal, and not an influence, even though both employ Voight-Kampff tests where super-computers and bureaucrats ask wandering questions to uncover plans for sabotage. Anna Karenina’s Natacha tells an awfully reminiscent “Story 842” to Caution as either a suppressive tactic or a test of his criminality:

[Four agents appear, two from the bathroom and two from the hallway]
-Come with us!
Agent: Residents’ Control. When he doubles up, get him
…Story 842, Miss
Natasha: One day a tiny man entered a North Zone café…
…and ordered a cup of very hot, sweet coffee…
…adding, “I shan’t pay, because I’m afraid of no one”
He drank his coffee
He left
He didn’t pay for his coffee
For the sake of peace, the café owner said nothing
But when the tiny man repeated the trick three times…
…the café owner decided to get a tough to sort him out
So, on the fourth day…
…when the tiny man called for his cup of coffee…
…the tough lumbered up to him and said:
“So you’re afraid of no one?”
“That’s right”
“Well, neither am I”
“Make that two cups of coffee”, called the man
[Johnson begins laughing hysterically]
english translation

Like anecdotes about calfskin wallets, butterfly collections, full-page nudes, flipping tortoises, and boiled dog, stories are weaponized by government officials.

More: Andrew Sarris on Alphaville, Godard in Fragments, Alphaville is 50: After Modernism Lost it Meaning, it Still had its Looks, Blade Runner 2049: Birth, death, and artificial identity, The Orientalist Buddy Film and the “New Niggers”: Blade Runner (1982, 1992, and 2007), This Future Looks Familiar: Watching Blade Runner in 2017, Blade Runner’s source material says more about modern politics than the movie does, Slave Runner: Genetic Engineering, Slavery, and Immortality in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), Blade Runner 2049 Tries to Make a Love Story Out of the First Blade Runner’s Violence, Off World (Experimental Film) [IMAX 3.6]