By Henrike Lindenberger

Curated at [in]Transition, 1.3, 2014 by Cristina Alvarez López

Alphaville is a place separated from the outer countries. A futuristic place where people no longer have feelings but live in a machine-like state.
The idea of this audiovisual essay on Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 Alphaville was to show the isolation and the science-fictional character of Alphaville, which I found in the architecture. The essay tries to reveal the movement through a city that seems to be a maze of invisible walls, surrounded by a crystal membrane. [HL]

The Audiovisual Essay as Lego Construction

By Henrike Lindenberger

A picture tells more than a thousand words – that is what I (re)discovered for myself through creating my first audiovisual essay on Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville: expressing things by only using split seconds of a sequence.

To relate what you yourself see in a film, select scenes and sequences, put them back together and show an aspect of a film that strikes you – what in the first place sounded like no big deal put me into quite a work process.

I noticed so many things that I did not know how to put them together, or even where to begin. So, there were a bunch of long sequences straying in my editing program, striving to find a partner sequence to blend in with.

I felt like doing as I did as a child, crushing the masterly Lego construction of my brother, and trying to put all those single pieces back together in a somehow adequate way.

Then I started reducing and cutting, axing those sequences to a minimum – and recognising that this is just what the process needs.

I really managed to construct something new, something that came from myself out of that pile of Lego pieces.

If you ask me what I was actually thinking while doing this, I cannot reply. Things came from intuition, just like you know where to draw something on a picture without mathematically measuring the golden section.

Going from obvious themes like darkness and light or black and white that immediately catch your eyes when watching Godard’s Alphaville for the first time, to blinking signs and light sources. That is what led me to architecture. I noticed the effect all the glass entries, illuminated windows and facades have, and discovered it has quite an impact on the whole film. Glass being a metaphor for separation of the inside from the outside, which is a major topic in the film, although one never sees the actual “outside” – the outer countries. I found that the architecture stands for that issue, like a miniature world.

And that is what attracted me doing this type of film analysis: making an audiovisual essay is like looking for synonyms and metaphors that the filmmaker has used to express a semantic question (or simply the plot) in the small things you would not consider when watching the film only once; but, somehow, those are the things that settle in your unconsciousness and make you see a film in the way you see it.

It is like a game in which you uncover a director’s stylistic devices by not only writing down that you noticed them, but showing them with the director’s own work – only in your way.

I learned to use all elements of a film (sound and visuals) and experiment with them to create a message.


Henrike Lindenberger is a student at Goethe University, Frankfurt.


© Henrike Lindenberger August 2014


Edited by Adrian Martin and Catherine Grant