Westworld (1973)

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Westworld (1973)

Post  BoG on Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:44 am

From the prolific Michael Crichton, an early look at how technology - the advancement of such - may have detrimental effects on society, the paradox to the supposed benefits. The new technology simply empowers the populace to new levels of decadence. Crichton's The Andromeda Strain was made into a film a couple of years earlier; for this, Crichton was able to write & direct it himself, as his first film.
The story focuses on two typical citizens (played by Richard Benjamin & James Brolin) who arrive at the adult amusement park of the future; the park, Delos, is divided into 3 sections or themes: Roman World, Medieval World and... Westworld. Each section recreates these past eras, using human-looking robots to interact with the guests. The two main characters have selected Westworld to romp in; Benjamin is the newbie; Brolin has been there before. Their first moment of real excitement is a confrontation with a sinister gunslinger (Yul Brynner). Of course, there's no real danger for the guests. Well... until now. Technology - a two-edged sword?
I have the original paperback novelization of Westworld from the same year it was released; of course, it's not really a novelization, just the screenplay in paperback format. Michael Crichton, the writer & director, found that he couldn't work out an actual novel of the story; he includes a preface, titled "Shooting Westworld," in which he explains, in one paragraph, the 'Made-for-TV' look which some find pedestrian:
In all our planning, my overriding concern was to avoid a bizarre, science fiction appearance to the film. The story was strange and certainly suggested a strange treatment; I could easily imagine using wide-angle lenses, eccentric compositions, and disorienting cutting patterns.  I decided to shoot the film straight, playing against the strangeness instead of emphasizing it.

Whether this was a miscalculation on his part or not is open to debate; he goes on to explain that the film is loaded with western cliches and so should be shot as cliches, conventionally.  This approach seems to inform much of Crichton's work, notably Jurassic Park, perhaps his most famous book (then, movie).  The concepts are intriguing, maybe even deep and mind-bending, but presented for mass consumerism. They become very popular with the masses, but also end up being slightly bland as a finished product.  
That's as good as a description for Westworld I can come up with at the moment.  It was one of my favorite science fiction films from the seventies, perhaps because it was one of the first ones I saw, actually in a theater, and perhaps because it's a provocative, even somewhat subversive subject matter, coupled with some intense thrills. But, now, many years later, I can't escape the thought of a bland presentation.

It's still one of my favorites from the seventies, though.  I mean, Yul Brynner, transposed from The Magnificent Seven and its sequel into a killer robot role?  C'mon, that's hard to beat. BoG's Score: 8 out of 10

The sequel was Futureworld (1976) and a very short TV series, Beyond Westworld (1980).


Last edited by BoG on Tue Nov 25, 2014 6:34 pm; edited 9 times in total
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Westworld Terminator

Post  BoG on Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:41 pm

BoG's Score: 8 out of 10


WESTWORLD - where nothing can ever go w..or..ng..
WESTWORLD features an early version of the Terminator killer robot...

The Gunslinger robot can see in infrared, heat signatures and other spectrums beyond the human eye...

The Gunslinger robot (Brynner) is relentless in his pursuit of the fleeing guest
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