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arts / rec.arts.sf.movies / Cinematic Robots: Masters and Servants

SubjectAuthor
* Cinematic Robots: Masters and ServantsJack Bohn
`* Re: Cinematic Robots: Masters and ServantsPaul S Person
 `- Re: Cinematic Robots: Masters and ServantsJack Bohn

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Cinematic Robots: Masters and Servants

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Subject: Cinematic Robots: Masters and Servants
From: jack.boh...@gmail.com (Jack Bohn)
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 by: Jack Bohn - Fri, 7 Oct 2022 15:02 UTC

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!

"THX 1138" and "Robocop" are the week after next! How did I get that wrong?!?

Luckily, this week is "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and "Westworld," and I don't see any side movies through the week (well, the wild wild movie "The Wild Wild Planet" features people put under mind control along with other, odder, biological changes). These two can be covered quickly.

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" is based on the short story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates. An alien and robot visitor land their spaceship in Washington, D.C., hijinx ensue. One aspect of the story not brought over is that the robot is the master of their society... or was that fact just hidden in the movie?

"Westworld" is an extension of Disneylands's audio-animatronics. I haven't been to the 21st Century parks of Harry Potter of Star Wars, I don't know how immersive they really are, but I get the impression they still rely a lot on what Disney calls "cast members." Westworld replaces a lot of that with robots, although it's still not cheap -- $1000 a day in pre-'70s-inflation money (although it's set in 1983).

There is a bit of discussion on how to tell a robot, which, as I saw this movie is a schoolkid, I tended to think of as schoolyard rumormongering. The guy pouring drinks in a saloon for five hours is probably a robot, although I wouldn't be too sure about the guy pounding out horseshoes in the blacksmith's shop. (There are conceivably guests on either side of a bank robbery shootout. On either side of a saloon girl encounter?) The idea that the guns won't fire on anything with a body temperature is slightly odd. Particularly as we are shown a Medievalworld. Are the bladed weapons programmed not to cut? I would guess they are not changing from sharp to dull, but are always dull, and the robots are programmed to _be_ cut when hit with them. Similarly, the guns should probably always kick back, maybe with some larger version of a cell phone's vibrate motor, and the robots, like the actors portraying them, are wearing explosive squibs to simulate the bullet hits. That way it's easier to believe you've missed another guest rather than that your gun has a firing failure rate more appropriate to Musketworld. Still, for the story, there's a need for the gun to actually fire. For the story... What if the adventure we saw WAS the park experience for our hero? Bought by his friend (who included a death scene for himself) as a cathartic experience of self-reliance? No, I guess we are shown too many "behind the scenes" activities our hero would have been unaware of for us to think the story was always about "Westworldworld."

The movie was framed in the '70s as "something has gone wrong" in the sense of an engineering problem. So realistic are the robots, however, that it's tempting to assign them the feelings we associate with the programmed actions they are going through. I hear the remake TV series is taking this path. The 1976 sequel "Futureworld" and the '80s TV series "Beyond Westworld" ignored this and assumed everything would go right, engineering-wise, and dealt with nefarious plans people with lifelike robots would make.

Rate them: I had thought to rate Gort along the lines of the Robby the Robot idea of hiding the lines of the person in the robot suit. In this case, they got a human of greater than average size, Lock Martin, and put him in a suit. This is a good trick, and will be extrapolated on with amputees portraying the drones in "Silent Running" and a chimp inside the robotic dog suit in "Battlestar Galactica." However, I can't rank these all together. The fact is that I can find it easier to believe in the drones and daggit as robots, Gort, and shorter than average Felix Silla in the Twiki suit for "Buck Rogers," are more a person in a suit than Robby. Perhaps they would have been more effective if unusually tall and short people had not been featured entertainment so often. Gort and Twiki score up nearer 0.4, above C-3P0.

I don't know about splitting the hairs of the incredibly lifelike androids that fall between 0 and 0.1. These get points for having a reason to be lifelike, and a couple of storytelling tricks: one is that we are told there are "tells," obvious differences between androids and actors pretending to be androids, and we are shown they are machines, disassembled, or at least with the faceplate off. In "Futureworld" one of the workmen has made an assistant out of a spare android. It, Clark (played by James Connor) walks around with its faceplate off. Around this time on "The Six Million Dollar Man" there were attacks by Fembots, which, when exposed, spent much of their time with their faceplates off. I just find this so charming that I forgive the fact that I can tell the actors are wearing a prosthetic in front of their faces that extends the head to really odd proportions if a humanlike faceplate were attached.

Well, that covers this Saturday, next Saturday is already covered. I may type something else up next week.

--
-Jack

Re: Cinematic Robots: Masters and Servants

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From: psper...@old.netcom.invalid (Paul S Person)
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Subject: Re: Cinematic Robots: Masters and Servants
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 by: Paul S Person - Fri, 7 Oct 2022 16:13 UTC

On Fri, 7 Oct 2022 08:02:31 -0700 (PDT), Jack Bohn
<jack.bohn64@gmail.com> wrote:

>Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!
>
>"THX 1138" and "Robocop" are the week after next! How did I get that wrong?!?
>
>Luckily, this week is "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and "Westworld," and I don't see any side movies through the week (well, the wild wild movie "The Wild Wild Planet" features people put under mind control along with other, odder, biological changes). These two can be covered quickly.
>
>"The Day the Earth Stood Still" is based on the short story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates. An alien and robot visitor land their spaceship in Washington, D.C., hijinx ensue. One aspect of the story not brought over is that the robot is the master of their society... or was that fact just hidden in the movie?

If by "hidden" you mean "not present at all", then yes, it was.
Indeed, given their characterization as all-powerful policemen, having
them in charge would have been seen as a robot revolt.

>"Westworld" is an extension of Disneylands's audio-animatronics. I haven't been to the 21st Century parks of Harry Potter of Star Wars, I don't know how immersive they really are, but I get the impression they still rely a lot on what Disney calls "cast members." Westworld replaces a lot of that with robots, although it's still not cheap -- $1000 a day in pre-'70s-inflation money (although it's set in 1983).
>
>There is a bit of discussion on how to tell a robot, which, as I saw this movie is a schoolkid, I tended to think of as schoolyard rumormongering. The guy pouring drinks in a saloon for five hours is probably a robot, although I wouldn't be too sure about the guy pounding out horseshoes in the blacksmith's shop. (There are conceivably guests on either side of a bank robbery shootout. On either side of a saloon girl encounter?) The idea that the guns won't fire on anything with a body temperature is slightly odd. Particularly as we are shown a Medievalworld. Are the bladed weapons programmed not to cut? I would guess they are not changing from sharp to dull, but are always dull, and the robots are programmed to _be_ cut when hit with them. Similarly, the guns should probably always kick back, maybe with some larger version of a cell phone's vibrate motor, and the robots, like the actors portraying them, are wearing explosive squibs to simulate the bullet hits. That way it's
>easier to believe you've missed another guest rather than that your gun has a firing failure rate more appropriate to Musketworld. Still, for the story, there's a need for the gun to actually fire. For the story... What if the adventure we saw WAS the park experience for our hero? Bought by his friend (who included a death scene for himself) as a cathartic experience of self-reliance? No, I guess we are shown too many "behind the scenes" activities our hero would have been unaware of for us to think the story was always about "Westworldworld."

The swordfights are harder to explain, as you point out.

>The movie was framed in the '70s as "something has gone wrong" in the sense of an engineering problem. So realistic are the robots, however, that it's tempting to assign them the feelings we associate with the programmed actions they are going through. I hear the remake TV series is taking this path. The 1976 sequel "Futureworld" and the '80s TV series "Beyond Westworld" ignored this and assumed everything would go right, engineering-wise, and dealt with nefarious plans people with lifelike robots would make.

Actually, I tend to the belief that "what went wrong" is /precisely/
that they developed a sense of self and emotions and so revolted
against being enslaved. Making this a forerunner of the Rise of the
Machines.

And some would say that the robots in /Futureworld/ had gone very
wrong indeed.

>Rate them: I had thought to rate Gort along the lines of the Robby the Robot idea of hiding the lines of the person in the robot suit. In this case, they got a human of greater than average size, Lock Martin, and put him in a suit. This is a good trick, and will be extrapolated on with amputees portraying the drones in "Silent Running" and a chimp inside the robotic dog suit in "Battlestar Galactica." However, I can't rank these all together. The fact is that I can find it easier to believe in the drones and daggit as robots, Gort, and shorter than average Felix Silla in the Twiki suit for "Buck Rogers," are more a person in a suit than Robby. Perhaps they would have been more effective if unusually tall and short people had not been featured entertainment so often. Gort and Twiki score up nearer 0.4, above C-3P0.

The actor had medical problems that made him very tall but also very
weak. This is why, on the DVD, you can see wires in use when he picks
the girl up: the actor didn't have the strength to do that.

>I don't know about splitting the hairs of the incredibly lifelike androids that fall between 0 and 0.1. These get points for having a reason to be lifelike, and a couple of storytelling tricks: one is that we are told there are "tells," obvious differences between androids and actors pretending to be androids, and we are shown they are machines, disassembled, or at least with the faceplate off. In "Futureworld" one of the workmen has made an assistant out of a spare android. It, Clark (played by James Connor) walks around with its faceplate off. Around this time on "The Six Million Dollar Man" there were attacks by Fembots, which, when exposed, spent much of their time with their faceplates off. I just find this so charming that I forgive the fact that I can tell the actors are wearing a prosthetic in front of their faces that extends the head to really odd proportions if a humanlike faceplate were attached.

The final scene with Clark suggests that he has ... feelings ... about
being left on his own.

>Well, that covers this Saturday, next Saturday is already covered. I may type something else up next week.
--
"In this connexion, unquestionably the most significant
development was the disintegration, under Christian
influence, of classical conceptions of the family and
of family right."

Re: Cinematic Robots: Masters and Servants

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Subject: Re: Cinematic Robots: Masters and Servants
From: jack.boh...@gmail.com (Jack Bohn)
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 by: Jack Bohn - Sat, 8 Oct 2022 14:20 UTC

On Friday, October 7, 2022 at 12:13:49 PM UTC-4, Paul S Person wrote:
> On Fri, 7 Oct 2022 08:02:31 -0700 (PDT), Jack Bohn wrote:
> >
> >"The Day the Earth Stood Still" is based on the short story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates. An alien and robot visitor land their spaceship in Washington, D.C., hijinx ensue. One aspect of the story not brought over is that the robot is the master of their society... or was that fact just hidden in the movie?
> If by "hidden" you mean "not present at all", then yes, it was.
> Indeed, given their characterization as all-powerful policemen, having
> them in charge would have been seen as a robot revolt.

I admit my thoughts were just a stream-of-consciousness roll to get something out, but I can try to defend it.

If robots are claiming government's exclusive right to violence, can they avoid the other responsibilities of government?
I guess I'm thinking of "Colossus: The Forbin Project" (I've been thinking about the movies they aren't showing, see below) there the transfer of power was a bit disorderly, one could say unplanned. But Colossus was working under the handicap that -as Asimov says- a computer is an immobile robot (a bit different view from a robot being a mobile computer) the only actuators it had available was the humans it could threaten with nuclear annihilation. The only book in the series that I've read was _The Fall of Colossus_ where (spoiler) it still has to jealously guard its nuclear monopoly, and is still trying to figure out the motivations and responses of the humans.

If we look at their behavior on this mission, with the story's warning against assumptions, they could be said to be equal partners. They equally expose themselves to being shot, although Gort is impervious, Klaatu slightly less so. Oh, hey, then we see a demonstration of its automatic reaction against the aggressor, ...and anyone standing around that might back up the aggressor. He doesn't immediately go after the higher-level enablers, but they may be out of reach. Then there is the curious incident of the guards in the nighttime. Was there any justification for Gort's actions except that of necessity? Or just a robot's gonna do what a robot wants to do?

Perhaps TCM should have paired this movie with "Colossus," the latter is a Universal picture, but they have a good relationship with them vie classic movies: the three Frankenstein movie starring Karloff will have pride of place on Halloween. Also, if they had gotten "Colossus" they should have gotten "Silent Running" with the wonderful Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Oddly, they aren't showing their own "GOG" with cool robot designs if not such a cool robot story. (Hmm... it looks like "GOG" was distributed by United Artists, it must have merged with Warners' holdings through Turner's purchase of the MGM/UA library, so they'd also have "The Twonky" with its non-humanoid robot.) Overall I don't quite understand limiting it to two movies of a Saturday night. This is seemingly the "Star of the Month" slot, but I'm thinking times they run a star's films from prime time until the wee hours of the morning.

--
-Jack


arts / rec.arts.sf.movies / Cinematic Robots: Masters and Servants

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