How the Science Fiction West Won: Michael Crichton’s Westworld

Michael Crichton’s 1973 movie Westworld It’s a mediocre western set inside a decent sci-fi movie. It’s also an admirably clever meta argument that the West has always been science fiction to begin with.

The higher concept of Westworld is that the movie is set in an amusement park, where realistic robots miraculously help visitors immerse themselves in a western virtual world, medieval world, or Rome World. Each of these public settings allows visitors to experience the traditional pleasures of the indirect cinematic genre firsthand—violence, sex, law enforcement, and lawbreaking. Robotic gunslingers challenge guests to shoot; Robotic prostitutes crawl into the beds of the guests. All of these adventures are completely safe and without consequences, just as movie-goers can safely provoke fights or lust behind attractive bodies without risking their lives or their marriages. Until the park begins to collapse, of course, and the black-hatted robotic gunslinger Yul Brenner starts killing people.

Today, the meta-imagination of invented public reality is a familiar staple in Hollywood, in which it has been explored. Total Recall (1990), Truman Show (1998), the matrix (1999), hut in the woods (2011), Code source (2011), inspired by Critchton Jurassic Park movies and Westworld TV show, to name a few. The idea was most recent on the big screen in 1973, however, and the film spends a great deal of time making sure audiences understand exactly where they fit in the entertainment system designed for them. The film begins with an advertisement for Delos, the theme park company that operates Western World, and then moves on to another exhibit, where the two main characters, Peter (Richard Benjamin) and John (James Brolin), talk about types of weapons. The belts they wear on their vacation, and what kind of kick you get from a Colt 45.

The harsh interpretation is partly meant to make sure viewers are aware of the speed. But it’s also a reflection of the film’s interests.

This attention is not focused on the general act, which is rendered with an artificial coldness of heart. Medieval world frankly looks like a Hollywood set, not a real castle. In the Western world, Peter and John are the protagonists of the novel pale, without much depth or compelling motive. They navigate western locations like cute tourists, which they are after all.

Bored with their arduous, over-designed adventures, the film continues to turn into the behind-the-scenes mechanics of entertainment productions – as if God of the rings They kept staying away from the motion to show clips of documentaries about making the Lord of the Rings. Serious scientists sit before keyboards flash while analog bars spin in the background. On the quiet western street, a futuristic cleaning truck roams to pick up the bodies of humanoid robots, to transport them to kinds of medical technicians to rewire and reorganize. Executives meet in windowless rooms to discuss equipment failures and crisis management. The real action of the film is not a fun genre, but a bureaucracy.

This is not just a fact about this movie; It is an overview of all Hollywood movies. Films are industrial products, assembled by teams of experts, accountants and technicians. The West is not a gateway to the frontier past. Instead, it is a carefully constructed theme park that is inspired by the past and lacks the technological resources to create this theme park. The Western movie, like Yul Brynner’s robot himself, is a futuristic machine designed to imitate the West.

Westerners are generally seen as a more subtle and realistic genre of science fiction. Horses, dust and six guns are rooted in a historical authenticity that spaceships and lasers are not. But Westworld He points out that the weathered shop fronts are just plasterboard, and the leather faces under cowboy hats are just faux features stretched across a movable structure. Science fiction, with its engineer heroes, and technological achievement, is the genre that approximates the actual conditions of film production. When you watch a western movie, you are not really part of the western genre. You are part of the movie world that is like science fiction.

When the genre setting begins to unravel in the final third of the film, both Peter and the film’s viewer begin to take a look behind the scenes, at the real science fiction supporting the fake West. Brenner’s constant disintegration—his face melting in acid, his body set on fire—is an abstraction of the genre’s interface. He was finally reduced to a hollow shell, his face torn, revealing the wires underneath, while his body sparkled and flew. It’s like watching the movie screen tear up, so you see the projector gears spinning, or the movie crew banging on the set while the effects team builds Brynner’s robot.

. virtual horror Westworld The safety features are disrupted – the park turns from a harmless distraction to a terrifying death trap. This reflects standard moral panic narratives about the dangers of films, games, or comics. It is assumed that violence in entertainment provokes violence in real life. When you paint a picture of a gun battle, you are drawing real gun battles into being. Tear off the gunslinger’s mask and you’ll find a boring bureaucrat. But tear off the mask of the bureaucrat, and you will once again look into the barrel of a gun.

But worry in Westworld It may also be that dangerous gunslingers have been replaced by not-so-dangerous images of a gunslinger. The future has occupied the past with a bureaucratic simulation of adventure without risk. Westworld She acknowledges that blood and raw skin have been systematically covered with Nerf foam. True Intent now observes some functional quirky facets and speaks earnestly into a microphone.

In closing, when Peter looked at the smoking robot and heard Delos’ sales pitch playing in his head, is it ironic that a supposedly entertaining theme park is capable of doing her damage? Or is the irony that the dangerous high-stakes adventure is just a safe and boring game? star Wars And Star Trek Try to bring the sharp and borderline excitement of the West into the future. WestworldDespite this, it indicates that the future has domesticated the past. Science fiction won the West and turned it into a mechanical remake we call a movie.

Originally published October 2020.

Noah Berlatsky is the author of Wonder Woman: Slavery and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics (Rutgers University Press).

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