Germany Year 90 Nine Zero

1991, NR, 62 min. Directed by Jean-Luc Godard. Starring Eddie Constantine, Hanns Zischler, Claudia Michelsen, Nathalie Kadem.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., April 5, 1996

It figures that if Jean-Luc Godard, the reigning film provocateur of the Sixties, were to make a sequel to one of his movies, it would take him 25 years to do so. Made in 1991, Germany Year 90 Nine Zero is a follow-up to his 1965 “spy thriller” Alphaville. As before, Godard's protagonist is Lemmy Caution (once again played by Eddie Constantine in what turned out to be his last role). Though Caution is now older and wearier and the topography of his face has grown even craggier, he seems much the same as when we last saw him in '65. Europe, however, has become a much different place and it now holds no purpose for an undercover mole. With a reunited Germany and an increasingly solidified European continent, Lemmy Caution may be the true spy who came in from the cold. Without a Cold War, what's a spy in the East to do? Freed from his post, like one of those oblivious Japanese soldiers discovered in remote island foxholes years after the war was declared over, Caution is suddenly a man without a mission, a man whose very identity has been torn from his hull. The movie, which was made for French television, was commissioned as a film about the state of solitude. As a movie, Germany Year 90 Nine Zero is better characterized as a situation rather than a story. Essentially, the 62-minute-long movie follows Caution who, relieved of his duties, tries to find his way back to the West. As he traverses the wintry landscape, he asks directions from a motorist in a stalled vehicle and a Don Quixote figure perched by a windmill. No one knows. Meanwhile, Caution encounters signs of commerce everywhere, as shoppers and storekeepers busy themselves with Christmas trade. Interspersed throughout are voiceovers by Godard and others and title cards with purely linguistic stimuli. As is his style, Godard's musings span a spectrum that goes from silly to visionary. This movie ranks with some of Godard's best work (it made several critics' “top 10” lists in 1992), but it probably requires some prior familiarity with Godard's previous films in order to recognize that fact.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Jean-Luc Godard
DVD Watch
Jean-Luc Godard's Histoire(s) du Cinéma
Few filmmakers would be able to mount a discourse on the 20th century's art and thought process as broad and extensive as this

Marjorie Baumgarten, Jan. 13, 2012

DVD Watch
A Married Woman;
Made in U.S.A.;
2 or 3 Things I Know About Her
Go, go, Godard!

Marjorie Baumgarten, July 24, 2009

More Jean-Luc Godard Films
The Image Book
Godard's final experiment is more thesis and installation than film

Richard Whittaker, March 8, 2019

Goodbye to Language
Jean-Luc Godard makes his best film in years – and in 3-D, no less.

Marjorie Baumgarten, Feb. 6, 2015

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Ash Is Purest White
The emotional cost of a life of crime across two decades in Northern China

March 22, 2019

The Wedding Guest
A simmering thriller of international abduction and pursuit

March 22, 2019


Germany Year 90 Nine Zero, Jean-Luc Godard, Eddie Constantine, Hanns Zischler, Claudia Michelsen, Nathalie Kadem

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle