Movie Class 101 – week 002 – Beware the Machines

April 26, 2012

Week Two: Beware the Machines

The first general purpose computers date back to the early 1800s.  I’m not making that up.  (And here’s another little piece of trivia.  The first computer programmer was a woman; Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron.)  For the last 2 hundred plus years they have just been getting smaller and faster.

With any new discovery comes a certain level of fear.  Fear of the unknown, fear of personal obsolescence which is linked in a way to a fear of our own mortality.  The emotional response that machines don’t die, but we do is just that… emotional.  I mean how many times do you end up replacing your cell phone?  Built in obsolescence is the reality of machinery but we still hold an innate fear of the machines.  Beyond that there is the fact that as we make thinking machines we are attempting in some small way to act as God.  Robotics could be seen to be a modern equivalent to Frankenstein’s monster.  In computers we face our fears both rational and emotional.

Even though these films span such a vast amount of time there are still similar themes of alienation, of us and them, of finding and possibly losing our purpose or our place in our personal sphere, in society and in life itself.

And now for this week’s film list.

1. Fritz Lang’s Metropolis
2. Logan’s Run
3. Blade Runner
4. The Matrix

Bonus films
5. The Terminator
6. Ghost in the Shell
7. War Games

Discussion Questions –

1 – What similarities do the films share as relates to personal identity?
2 – What are the differences?  Do these differences  relate more to the era in which the film was made or in the story itself?
3 – Is it easier to fear the machine or the creator of the machine?

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