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Lemmy Caution, F.B.I. agent, arrives in suburbs of Alphaville, capital of a galactic empire. Alphaville is a mysterious. Spies that earth sent there no longer give news. As a result, Lemmy Caution has two missions : to establish contact with the missing agents, and to return exiled professor Von Braun, at any price. In other words he has to kill the professor.
At his hotel, Lemmy Caution discovers a spy in his bathroom who escapes. Then he slaps the stewardess who has accompanied him to his bedroom, and proposed him to have a bath with him. But the bitch stays indifferent to what happened. "Something's wrong around here" thinks Caution, disturbed by this first contact with the city.
Then the reception informs him that Natacha Von Braun, professor's daughter, wants to meet him. She is a pretty brown hair girl, who tells having received from Alpha 60 the order to help Caution during his stay. She invites him to spend the evening in a ministry, where a party is given. Caution's turmoil rises : the attitudes of the girl are mechanical, sometimes contradictory with what she says. He accepts the invitation for the evening, and decides, meanwhile, to contact Henri Dickson, one of the terrestrial agents.
At the place of the contact, Dickson hardly recognizes Caution; he seems to be sick, knocked by this languor that ravages Alphaville. Dickson explains that under the impetus of the professor Von Braun, Alpha 60, a computer, has taken the power at Alphaville, that has become a technical society. Even the professor Von Braun is not more than an executant. Dickson dies, tired.
Caution joins Natacha. He finds her in the process of following an indoctrination's lesson. He then hears the official philosophy of Alphaville. It is the determinism's reign : each event is logical consequence of what has preceded it. Everything is planned : the uncertainty of the future being suppressed, the notion of future is suppressed, and logically, the past's. Everything that goes in the opposite rules of logic is vowed to destruction : that's right for love, conscience, and for senses of words. Thus, residents of Alphaville are dressed beings to be expurgated from conscience, sentiments, with neither past nor future.
At the end of the lesson, Caution and Natacha go to the Ministry of Dissuasion, place of the party. Caution notice there Von Braun. On the edge of a pool is the execution of tens of persons condemned for "illogical acts". Caution attempts violently to approach Von Braun. But he is stopped, and Natacha, who has assisted to the scene, begins to cry...
Caution undergoes an electronic examination...
Caution undergoes an electronic examination, in consequence of that Alpha 60 places him in a supervised residence in the technical center of Alphaville. Caution learns that Alpha 60 has decided the extermination of all thinking beings. The war is imminent with External Countries. But suddenly a serious incident arrives : in the confusion, Caution escapes.
Back to his hotel room, to take his weapon to kill Von Braun, he is surprised to find Natacha, who has infringed the orders of Alpha 60. She is beautiful, he feels that she is ready to rock his side. They spend the night together, reading poetry, attempting to make her recovering the conscience of her past. She vacillates, tells him she will leave with him to External Countries. In the morning, he must act : Caution attempts to obtain a connection with the External Countries, but the lines are cut. The war is declared. And the police makes irruption in the bedroom.
Lemmy Caution is surprised to find Natacha
Caution undergoes a new questionning; his real identity is now known. He attempts then a last chance maoeuver. Facing Alpha 60, he claims holding a secret; a secret that is contented in the next enigma :
- It is something that does not vary neither the day nor the night, for that the past represents the future, that goes on a straight line and nevertheless, at the arrival, that has buckled the buckle.
The hope of Caution is that Alpha 60, finding the answer to this enigma, discovers the concept of poetry; and that thus, accessing to this form of conscience, the logical part of Alpha 60 orders the destruction of Alpha 60. Caution is condemned to death...
Spoiler ! the end of the story is revealed below…
But he kills his jailers and escapes the Control building. He has just the time to see Natacha lead to examination room. He forces a policeman to lead him to Von Braun. There, in the mazes of Alpha 60, he attempts to convince Von Braun to leave with him to the External Countries. Von Braun refuses with arrogance. Caution kills him.
Caution delivers Natacha
Pursued by the police, he returns to the Control building. Peoples he crosses act like dislocated puppets. Finally he finds back Natacha, who is also affected by the ambient disturbance. Caution seizes that he triumphed over Alpha 60 : he hears, through one of the multiples relay that spread the city, Alpha 60 seized by a poetical ecstasy. Its destruction is on course. "The happiness ! Look at us, her and i, says Caution to Alpha 60. We are happiness, this is the answer !"
Natacha is terribly sick. Around them, those that do not support the absence of logical light die, falling on the ground. Out of Alphaville, Caution implores Natacha to find in herself the words of life, in other case she will undergo the lot of most of Alphavilliens. Wearily, she finishes by saying :
"I love you". And 2 lovers escape to Earth.