Robots and Monsters In Movies
I'm going to do something I don't normally do - WAX NOSTALGIC. What a slippery slope.
I am a movie fan. I can't help myself. I get it honestly. My Father loved watching horror movies, and his all-time favorite was Invasion of the Body Snatchers - (1956 - with Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, and Larry Gates). When I think of this movie or watch it, to this day, I am saddened that he didn't live long enough to see movies made today in the cinematic form they are shown in. His imagination and love of the unknown are just a few of the many attributes I will always cherish. And of course his insatiable appetite for a good flick.
I grew up in an era where science and technology was catching up to so-called science-fiction on the big screen and television. From the beginning of an early age I loved movies of all kinds, but my favorites have always been horror movies and science-fiction. Usually on Friday or Saturday nights, when I was only 7 or 8 years old, my family would gather around our bright red couch at home, fix the popcorn, turn on the TV and watch the evening movie; and of course cover my face with a blanket at the scary parts. Camping out in the front room with the tube on. Some of the best memories of my childhood came from that old couch. And some of the best movies of our time.
The List of a Few favorites
The Gargantuas - 1970 with Russ Tamblyn, Kumi Mizuno, and Yu Fujiki.
They Came From Beyond Space - 1967 with Robert Hutton, Jennifer Jayne, and Zia Mohyeddin.
The Thing - 1951 with Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, Douglas Spencer, and James Arness as the monster of the movie, the 'Thing'. (Arness is best known for his work on the long running television series Gunsmoke. Playing Matt Dillon, Marshall of Dodge City.) In 1982, a remake of the cult classic came out with Kurt Russell and Wilfred Brimley. Not only revamping the character of the movie, but the special effects.
Them - 1954 with James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, John Weldon, and Fess Parker. (Parker was well known for his role in the popular series Davy Crockett.)
Throughout the years of those wonderful flicks, there has been many improvements in the look and feel of movies. Science and fiction have gone hand-in-hand. Who in the forties or fifties would have thought we'd actually go to the moon? Have someone step on the moon's surface and speak those famous words, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." (Neil Armstrong, 1969, first man on the moon.) Or, how about a space station orbiting the earth;(the space station, Meir. Which fist started out as a Russian Space Station, and gone through four redesigns, until developed into an international endeavor for the whole world to benefit from); scientists on it, conducting experiments trying to figure out if we (as a species; humans) can survive out in space, 'to boldly go, where no man has gone before.' Cultural Icons have come and gone. (Do you see the Hoola-Hoop any more?) But some cultural Icons have stood the test of time. STAR TREK is just one. I have been a Trekkie before there was Trekkies around. I have watched, and own all the episodes on cassette. They had spawned fans from one generation to the other, although they were only on the air for three seasons. The spin-offs of the show, ST:THE NEXT GENERATION, ST:DEEP SPACE NINE, ST:VOYAGER, and ST:ENTERPRISE did a lot for the shows mystique and kept the classic going long after it went off the air. The only one of the spin-offs that didn't last a full run, that of 7 seasons, was the last. ST:ENTERPRISE. The overlapping of the shows did a lot for its mystique also. You could almost feel how each character would react to any situation; including change. Example; when Worf went to DEEP SPACE NINE, changing the pace of his character. He was still Klingon, but he was shown the ability to adapt.
I've spent many enjoyable hours watching Spock, Kirk, McCoy, Ryker, Troy, Crusher, Daxx, Odo, T'Pal, Archer, Chicote', and Janeway go on their adventures in space. It made me think of the future and what it would be like in the 23rd, or 24th, centuries. It still does the same thing today.
But did you know there were a few others on the air at the same time that gave competition to STAR TREK? Do you remember LOST IN SPACE with the lovable Billy Mumy as Will Robinson, the boy genius? And of course the most notable character; THE ROBOT. The Robot may not have been the first one on the scene but he was one of the fan favorites. Just as Robby the Robot had been, from FORBIDDEN PLANET. Throughout films and TV, robots have popped up quite a bit, and they tend to steal the show. Robby actually made a couple of appearances on LOST IN SPACE. But they of course they weren't the only ones. There were many in movies also. From the old time favorites, to the newer models that fired everyones imagination. They are mechanical marvels that take names and kick butts. I grew up with them, and watched them grow right along with me. Robots, robots, robots; olde to the robot.
Each and every achievement of mankind has been spearheaded by a visionary in one field or another. Be it science, science-fiction, or mechanical engineering. And some of the best at it, were in the field of cinema. Visionaries who took a simple idea, and developed it into a masterpiece of the cinematic arts. Many of the first concepts of space travel were done by film makers. And more than one of the masters of today were inspired by those few who started it all.
When it started
Throughout the many years of movie making, one of the few things that seem to be a constant in the genre is the imagination of the writers and directors. As far back as the silent era in motion pictures, people have wondered what the future would be like, and how the world would be different. In 1927, the silent picture, Metropolis, hit the screens with a bang. It is credited with being the first motion picture in the science fiction genre. It spotlighted the part of society that people wondered about, but never discussed. It got peoples mind off the fact that WWI had ended the previous decade, and focused their minds that economic prosperity was on the rise. It was a milestone in the cinema field. It also focused the masses on a new concept: the robot. A non living automaton willing to do anything one's owner told it to do.
Although Isaac Asimov (one of the foremost writers and scientists of the twentieth century) is credited with the three laws of robotics; which states:
- A robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Asimov is not credited with the concept of the robot itself.
This is only one example of the many that have transpired throughout history in movies. There is always a beginning, and this was it. And from that humble beginning, we have come quite a way. Robots have been introduced in many ways. From science fiction writers to science fiction movies. Some of them are pretty famous. Do you know Robby the Robot? Do you know when he was first introduced to the world?
Robby the Robot was created by the designer who did The Robot for LOST IN SPACE; Robert Kinoshita.
Ever since those remarkable days of the 20's which brought us to the point we are today, there have been many series, stories, movies, and books featuring Robots. They tend to steal the show, and fire the imagination.
And the trend is not just in the United states. Japanese society has been bitten by the bug of the future for as long as theirs been television also. One of the most noticeable and memorable series is the Godzilla movie franchise. Every conceivable monster and robot has been turned over and over-turned in their society. And not just live action movies; most from anime and cartoons. Just don't ask me to pronounce them.
To the Present
Throughout Hollywood and the motion picture industry, over the decades, monsters and robots in movies have taken us to the stars, taken us in time, and more importantly fired the imagination of filmmakers of today's era. These many robots and monsters of the industry was just the forerunners of the models out today. (Or in the not too distant past.)
Here are some of the most notable robots in this era. Maybe all the movie lovers out there can remember when they were born in what movie.
Now, just remember, these are only a few. There are many more, and anyone with a television could possibly name a few of the most important I've left out of the list.
As always, Happy reading. In this case, happy watching and remembering.