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Westworld (1973) - The Vacation of a Lifetime
Westworld was written and directed by Michael Crichton and premiered on November 21, 1973. Starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin and Alan Oppenheimer. Music by Fred Karlin. 88mins.
Delos is the place where your fantasies come true and for just $1000 a day you can live in Romanworld, Medievalworld or Westworld. Best friends Peter (Richard Benjamin) and John (James Brolin) are on their way to spend a few days being cowboys in Westworld where thanks to the clever life like robots you can shoot them, punch them and even have sex with them. But something goes seriously wrong and the robots malfunction, ignoring their safety systems and they start attacking the human guests.
When one of the malfunctioning robots (Yul Brynner) ruthlessly kills John the movie becomes a race against time for Peter to escape from the crazed machine. There is a tense and exciting finale with the killer robot stalking Peter through the theme park and the tunnels underneath, while guests and park technicians lie dead all around. Brynner is superb in the role of the ruthless robot, who would not stop killing the human holidaymakers until it ceases to exist.
Technician: Hold out your hands. Let me see your hands! You're a guest. You really gave me a scare. Look, everything's broken down. The machines have gone crazy.
Peter: You know about the machines?
Technician: Yeah, I repair 'em.
Peter: There's one chasing me now. A gunslinger.
Technician: Gunslinger. Must be a model 404, maybe a 406. If he is a 406, he's got all the sensory equipment. It's beautiful machine!
Peter: He's after me.
Technician: I don't doubt it.
Peter: What can I do?
Technician: There's nothing you can do. He'll get you. You haven't got a chance.
Westworld was innovative and original when it was first released and was very influential, it is a classic of SF cinema. Westworld prefigures The Terminator (1984) in its portrayal of an unstoppable killing machine with no emotion or conscience. The idea of a malfunctioning theme park would reappear in a later movie, Steven Spielberg’s massively successful Jurassic Park (1993) based on Crichton’s bestselling novel.
Westworld contained the first use of computer generated graphics outside of the usual display monitors. When we see the robots point of view the shots were digitised, taking hours to produce just a few seconds of film.
Michael Crichton makes repeated use of the 'Man vs Machine' scenario throughout much of his work, with the topic resurfacing in a number of his classic novels such as The Andromeda Strain (1969). It is this inherent technophobia that is the crux of Westworld, the belief that mankind will overstep the boundaries of science and create a monster that will eventually destroy us.
Westworld was popular with audiences and a sequel, Futureworld, was released in 1976, directed by Richard T. Heffron and starring Peter Fonda, Blythe Danner, Arthur Hill, John P. Ryan and with a cameo by Yul Brynner.
Announcer: Why don't you make arrangements to take our hovercraft to Medieval World, Roman World and Westworld? Contact us today, or see your travel agent. Boy, have we got a vacation for you.
The critics wrote -
“Combines solid entertainment, chilling topicality, and superbly intelligent serio-comic story values.” (Variety)
“The idea is ingenious, and the film might have been marvellous: it isn’t, quite (it has the skimped TV-movie look of a too-tight budget), but it’s reasonably entertaining.” (Pauline Kael)
“A rare entertainment. Exciting both emotionally and intellectually, it holds wide appeal for a broad spectrum of filmgoers ranging from the action and sci-fans to the youth audience and the more discriminating... The futuristic trappings look plausibly familiar and Gene Polito's cinematography is first-rate.” (Film Bulletin)
"A richly suggestive, bleakly terrifying fable - and Brynner's performance is chillingly pitch-perfect." (Daily Telegraph)