Robots have been a major source of inspiration (and revenue) from the dawn of filmmaking. Some see them as a way to express concerns about the daunting cyber-dominated future or as means to observe humans as opposition to the artificial machines. Either way, most of the time underlining concept behind the story is an expression of fear that robots could become self- conscious and supersede humans.
According to Raúl Rojas González, an expert in artificial neural networks, “metallic machines will probably never reach the level of complexity and integration of biological material“. That little “probably” is what keeps on fuelling imaginations of not only filmmakers, but audiences as well. Science- fiction movies account for almost 15% of total market share and it has shown a trending rise in popularity over the last 5 years as reported by movie tracking site www.the-numbers.com.
Raindance Film Festival has spotted the trend. This year we are closing the festival with a stunning science fiction movie – The Machine. It is a UK premiere that has already been nominated for the Best UK Feature in the festival’s competition.
So, intrigued by the film’s captivating premise, I compiled a list of titles that might bear a certain resemblance:
1. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001, dir. Steven Spielberg, USA)
The 21st century version of Pinocchio. It captivates with a beautifully drawn emotional portrait of a robot. A.I. probably grasped every aspect of humanoid existence that could be imagined.
2. The Machine (2013, dir. Caradog W. James, UK)
Set in the near future where the world is barren and consumed by a new Cold War. Humans are desperate to create yet another devastating killing machine to “end the conflict”. And what could be better than immortal soldiers with enhanced physical and processing skills? That is when The Machine is created. Sounds like a prologue to The Terminator?
3. I, Robot (2004, dir. Alex Proyas, USA)
2035 A.D. – robots are our irreplaceable and exceptionally advanced servants. They walk our dogs, wash the dishes…and conspire to take over the world. Only one man saw it coming.
4. Wall-E (2008, dir. Andrew Stanton, USA)
A post-apocalyptic glimpse at an impoverished and uninhabited Earth which is being looked after by an adorable little robot, that probably has more feelings than an average human being.
5. The Terminator (1984, dir. James Cameron, USA)
Breathlessly paced sci-fi that will never be forgotten. Either because of the ageless catchphrases or the nightmarish portrait of a relentless, ruthless, incredibly strong and intelligent cyborg that you would never want to mess with.
6. RoboCop (1987, dir. Paul Verhoeven, USA)
An interesting combination of satirical, gory, ultra- violent and ingenious – RoboCop does stand out. The protagonist – policeman that is half human and half robot – both indestructible and haunted by human weaknesses. You can love it or hate it, but you won’t be indifferent.
7. Star Wars (1977, dir. George Lucas, USA)
Yes, it might not be a movie fundamentally about robots or artificial intelligence, but you must admit that the charming comrades R2-D2 and C-3PO have spurred some new perspectives of looking at the robots.
8. Metropolis (1927, dir. Fritz Lang, Germany )
Probably one of the most influential and inspiring sci-fi movies ever made. This is where everything started – the introduction of a humanoid in the history of film. Not a positive picture, but it was only the beginning.
9. Bicentennial Man (1999, dir. Chris Columbus, USA)
A household utensil that became an exemplary human being. Interesting parable – even a seemingly perfect creation would seek the chance of being a flawed living creature. Besides, it’s worth to mention that it’s a rare case of non-violent films about robots.
10. Inspector Gadget (1999, dir. David Kellogg, USA)
One could say that it’s a children’s (or Disney) version of RoboCop. The films share pretty much the same plotline excluding all the excessive brutality and originality. But it’s nice to see a brighter depiction of crime-fighting partial humans.