Automata: A Movie Review
The most notable thing about this movie is that it stars Antonio Banderas, supported in a very minor role by his former wife, Melanie Griffith.
Let's get this out of the way right now: This 2014 Spanish-Bulgarian production --- according to Wikipedia --- is standard android liberation fare.
I find that I cannot even be bothered to offer a plot summary. Instead I will, briefly, discuss two points:
- Sex and Mating, and their relation to racism.
- The film that COULD HAVE BEEN!
Sex and Mating in Relation to Racism
There is one thing that films purporting to deal with racism fail to understand. And that is this: What makes racism effective is sex. It is by way of the sexual act that children are conceived, to be born into the world.
When you have two groups --- the dominant (oppressor) group and the second-class citizens (oppressed) group --- you see a fear of so-called miscegenation from extreme bigots on both sides.
Extreme bigots from the former camp tend to see the oppressed group as weak and unworthy, due to the simple fact of their subjugation to their own group of origin. In their eyes, then, to mate with the oppressed group would be to weaken themselves, their group, say, intellectually, politically, militarily, and so forth.
Extreme bigots from the latter camp tend to see the oppressor group, as a whole, as wicked, evil, sinister. They would not agree that the oppressor enjoys his position due to any innate mental, political, social, or cultural superiority. They would attribute the superior position of the oppressor group to a kind of inhuman predatory drive. To mate with member of the oppressor group, then, would, in their eyes, weaken their group spiritually and morally.
What racism ultimately amounts to, then, is the fear of racial taint through sexual contact with The Other.
The film that COULD HAVE BEEN
A guy named Dylan McDermot is in this picture, which doesn't really matter, except that he plays the human character that manifests an anti-android racist attitude.
Now, at one point in the film we visit what is, for all intents and purposes, a brothel staffed with android erotic workers.
Anyway, the proprietor is a human being, a human being with robotic, mechanical legs; and he seems to have undergone some procedure concerning his lungs, because his speaking voice sounds metallic and robotic.
Okay, let's talk about the film that could have been, while we keep in mind my first point about sex being the operative element of racism.
The film should have been about how humans, increasingly dependent on technology for entertainment, information, and even physical survival, were becoming more and more like androids; and androids, in their increasing refinement, were, themselves, becoming more and more human.
The two strands should have been drawn closer and closer together, until the situation culminated in a love story between a 100% human being and a 100% android --- AND THEIR QUEST TO PRODUCE A CHILD!!!!
Imagine it: This child as THE VERY FIRST OF THE BORG!
How would that be for an origin story for the Borg? You know, I think that scenario would make a great Star Trek novel, if something like that hasn't been done already.
Here's the thing...
Now, I have said that this movie is standard android-liberation fare.
However, --- and I hate to say this ---, it is something less than standard. Ultimately there is no tension in the androids' decision to break off from their human creators. You see, one would think that the very reason for the decision of the robots to depart human society, would be the very thing that powers the story and drives the plot.
We are simply told that the reason the androids seek to leave human is this: (because it is just time to do so) or (simply that it is a matter of "evolution").
With such bland-to-almost-nonexistent motivation, the tale simply does not have any urgency and meanders around to no purpose.
However, I will not deny that there are two interesting features of the film. I will not spoil them, in case any of you want to see it.
But consider this....
The 1972 film, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes --- (prequel to the Charleton Heston original film, Planet of the Apes (1968) --- starred Roddy McDowall who played the revolutionary leader, the first of the talking apes known as Caesar.
In that film you have real motivation as to why it is that the apes seek to leave the society of their human masters. Caesar (McDowall) delivers the query perfectly when he asks his primary human antagonist why the humans were so cruel to his people, the apes.
Caesar points out that, at first, the humans treated the apes like beloved pets. But then the humans' treatment of them had turned to enslavement. Caesar wanted to know why.
Interestingly, the man told him why. He explained that the apes represented something in mankind that was savage, untamed, wild, and in need of tight suppression and control. This exchange is the film's second most powerful scene.
The film feels like a low-budget, wannabe art-house, so-called "indie" project --- which rather reminds me of another low-budget, self-reflective, --- and ANGSTY, don't forget ANGSTY --- picture called Robot World (2015).
Thank you for reading!