GREEK LOVE FOR ..ROBOTS
men had fascinated the Greeks, centuries ago.......
lame god of fire and the arts,was meant to have made THE
FIRST ROBOT ,the bronze giant..Talos. It was given
to King Minos and set to guard the shores of Crete.
Any stranger who landed on the island , was clutched by Talos,
in a red-hot embrace! The one weakness of the metal giant was
a stopper , which kept the vital conducting fluid ,flowing in
the veins. When the Argonauts landed and Talos appeared,
Medea managed to charm out the stopper ,so, that the liquid
ran out and the giant fell down at their feet.
Hephaestus had other robots to help him,in his heavenly
laboratory--mechanical golden maidens , who served his guests
and assisted at his experiments,
forerunners of the false Maria in Langs Metropolis
robot dolls (as Olympia) have remained a strong male fantasy.
The lame god was ingenius, trapping his wife Aphrodite with
her lover Mars in a wire net concealed above her bed and surprising
his mother Hera in the arms of a golden chair until she gave
him what he wanted!!.. Hephaestus was the divine version of
Prometheus, who stole both fire and the arts from heaven and
took them down to men.
was no accident that the subtitle of Mary shelley"s Frankestein
was..The Modern Prometheus. According to ancient belief,
Prometheus had given the fire as a gift to mankind,which was
slowly freezing to death.For his sin,he was condemned to be bound
to a rock in the Caucasus and...... have his liver torn
out eternally , by an eagle . . . . .. In other versions of the
legent, Prometheus was also the creator of mankind out
of clay and thus the inspirer of the fabled Rabbi Loew,who
made the clay monster/robot, the Golem (1920).
early 19th century also had a craze for automata.The
courts of the bourbons and the Hapsburgs commissioned
inventors to make mechanical black servants,ballet dancers forever
spinning on the tops of music boxes ,and birds singing eternally in
gilded cages!!!!!Even the empress Maria-Theresa was
beaten at chess by a mechanical chess player.....
final influences of Mary Shelley"s Frankestein
came from Benjamin Franklin and his experiments with
sparks and lightning.
the first robot of Gothic times was not a gleaming and
metal being on wheels but a patchwork of stolen corpses and
of course it was given its vital spark by electricity....The
creator of this monster run away from it.. Cut off from humanity
by its terrible appearence, the first mechanical monster found
only fear and hatred.
it murdered all of Victor Frankesteins family, because
of the sin of its making.... .Like Prometheus, he must
suffer for creating life .......
all adds up!!!
Jules Vernes mechanical fantasies , From the Earth to the
Moon and 20.000 Leagues Under the sea (1954)
were to chart the way for the whole development of space and under-sea
fiction. In Vernes world,the explorers wore their ordinary clothes during
their mechanical moonshot--inside the space missile the living quarters
of the FIRST ASTRONAUTS ,were like a comfy room with thinly
padded walls,and a dome for roof...... If Vernes space astronauts
looked like humans,his underwater explorers looked like..robots...............!!
In 20.000 Leagues Under the sea, Captains Nemos submarine
Nautilus was already a gigantic laboratory in the depths..
Awalk on the sea-bed involved complicated diving gear, with thick metal
cases over the head and oxygen masks on the back of the wet suits.In
this lost world beneath the ocean,the explorers walked like slow machines,fiding
the ruins of the lost city of Atlantis, by the flowing lava
of the undersea volcano...
romantic passion of the early 19th century for graveyards,gothic
castles ,revenge and despair, gave way to the Victorian dream
of Mechanical progress.Machinery seemed a better way to construct
Robots than the remnants of corpses!!!...
heir and rival in the original fantasy novels of scientific progress,
used machines as travellers through time and space...... ..His
novel The Time Machine allowed his travellers to deny time
wearing their everyday clothes and when he put his First Men on
the Moon, his astronauts wore ordinary clothes because they found
oxygen on its surface.. They did however meet Moondwellers
and Selenites,who looked like little armoured robot/monsters!!!(with
spikey helmets and dark glass goggles)..... .......So the FIRST
SPACE CREATURE seemed a mechanical robot,guarding the huge
civilisation of the moon!!! In Verne"s The War of the Worlds,the
Martian invaders looked horrific ,with dark coloured
eyes,rounded head,mouth under the eyes,dropping lots of smelly saliva.....
The whole creature heaved and pulsated,obviously machine-made with
a ringing metallic pace and long ,flexible,glittering tentacles........
Wells lived long enough to write the screenplay of Englands
greatest sci-fi movie Things to
Come(1936) In that extraordinary film, the pilots are already
robot-like in their flying suits..
important works were to put the self-controlled robot
into the minds of modern men.The first was Karel
Capecks remarkable play of 1923 ,R.U.R, in which
,robots in human shape took over the earth, killed off the whole human
race and only one man was left alive......... The robots were acquiring
souls and were able to breed, thus leading to a new race of... SUPERPEOPLE
on earth!!.. Such was the plot of R.U.R ,the seminal robot
play has influenced every film on the subject........
second was Fritz Langs film of 1926,Metropolis,in
which the false robot Maria (like Frankenstein and Golem),
led the underground workers into a doomed revolt.... Maria
is revealed as a metal monster when she is burned traditionally at
the stake...... Thus Metropolis uses both the ancient and the
modern traditions of the robot. It prophesied the screen robot ,just
as Langs next film, Woman in the Moon (1929) built on
the tradition of Vernes and Wells,to show human astronauts walking
in ordinary clothing ,across a lunar landscape after being fired there
in the old shell-shape pioneered by.......Verne.
frankestein strain injected itself into the horror movie so
that an artificial man usually looked more like a corpse on
legs than a mechanical monster like Talos.....
The Walking Dead (1936),Karloff seemedlike a minor
Frankesteins monster,as he shambled about after being resurrected
by an electric shock when he had been electrocuted for a murder,
he had not done......
succesfull was the incredible I Was a Teenage Frankestein
(1957) made by American International Pictures. The
monsters face was as repulsive as putty could make it ,but his
body wore .....a T-shirt and.....jeans to identify with the
clean kids!! ....
1958, Karloff himself was persuaded to play the
Baron Von Frankestein again in Frankestein
1970. In this film , the revived monster looked suspiciously
like a man in a space- suit, a sort of ...cloth robot. From
this point ,the Frankestein figure was.. .for fun, not for terror
emerged as a ....Rock-n-roll female impersonator in The Rocky
Horror Picture Show, which packed in the theatre boys in
Chelsea, but failed to fill the cinema halls in the world..
MAN- SPACE ROBOT
man blasted himself off into space,he turned into the robot
which he had wanted to make since the days of Talos and
Prometheus... The machinery he needed to reach the stars,dwarfed
the time of Kubrick"s film of genius 2001,
the computer HAL itself was superior to the men
inside the space ship, which were being reduced to mere machines
with unreliable characteristics.
if man tried to make himself into the dream of the machine in
outter space,death and horror still strike at the flesh ,inside
the shining armour. Emergencies could always threaten the enclosed
and breathing husks with total disaster ..like in The Man
in The Moon (1960)......
the time of Star trek, the spacemen were interplanetary,
some with...... pointed ears,wearing glittering space suits,like
the heavenly gods and deliverers of our hopefull dreams..
the most interesting of the space robot films was Forbidden
Planet (1956) ,in which the mechanical dream was mixed up
with Freudian analysis.... Dr Morbius,the controller
ofthe out of bounds new earth of Altair IV, is
served by ROBBY, the perfect robot ,which drives a dunemobile
and is programmed to speak 188 languages along with their
dialects and sub-tongues..!!!!!.
He is absolutely obedient and he can even cook up a decent meal
from synthetic substitutes. Yet mechanical perfection is not
enough. Morbius and the intruding spacemen are
thwarted by a gigantic "monster of the Id',
which can vaporize and destroy them. When the huge force breaks
into Morbius space home,
,ROBBY confronts it and sees that it is the other self
of his ..master!!...Unable to attack the dark side of the man
who made him, Robby the robot fuses and comes to a halt.........Now
as the Id attacks,Morbius screams::: I
deny you! I give you up !!.. As he exorcises
his evil powers, he dies and the Id of himself
disintegrates....The surviving spacemen escape with his beautiful
daughter, leaving Altair IV to explode with its
motionless robot and dead evil genius........
cinema serials were also very fond of men battling machines in space
or ocean. The most famous of them all, Flash Gordon put its
blond hero through a succession of adventures. In one of them, he
was given the full laboratory high-voltage treatment as if he were
to be shocked into becoming an electronic robot... He looked more
like a roman gladiator than the battler of robots called Volkites
in their sunken Atlantis.
Missile Monsters(1956) ,the alien aerial invaders were only
flying men in their far-out costumes,because of its low budget....
The lack of a decent budget also made Invaders from Mars(1957),control
people electonically---the cheapest way of making robots on screen,was
to make people to act like robots,after being taken over by alien
great movie was Tobor the Great(1954) ,....it was about a robot
with emotions like the loving robot at the end of R.U.R...It
was also capable of receiving telepathetic impulses from people and
the stars. So fond it was of its creator and his grandson, that it
saved them from spies who kidnapped them for their secrets!!..
The Invisible Boy (1957),another version of Robby the
robot was assembled by a boy at home. It battled an evil super
computer that wanted to rule the world.....
robots were frightening and evil...In the early serial,The Phantom
,the robot was as much as a gargoyle as a machine.
Target Earth (1954), the robots from Venus were far
more frightening with crab-like pincers and a death-ray projector
workin' from their heads.. Once their metal grip got the girl by the
throat,in an ultimate garotte, there was little escape for her.Luckily
for earth, human scientists fought back and won against the Venusian
Invisible Invaders(1956),the corpses of dead people were resurrected
by........thought control, to act as slaves for the Aliens....
the Mysterians (1957),the robots seemed to be modelled on the
Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, more foolish than fearsome..This
japanese feature even inluded a robot plot to.... mate with earth
women(?),surely the furthest make-believe of the machine entering
funniest of space robots were undoubtedly the abominable...Rapist
from planet Porno(!!!), in the take off movie......Flesh
Gordon.. When they advanced on the space travellers with their
corkscrews palpitating from their crotches, they seemed invisible
film monsters are robots to some degree, whatever their outter skin..
lunge from the deep at the naked lady swimming on the surface has
made more money than any other film in history....
legendary dragon which attacked SIEGFRIED in
Fritz Lang's version of the Nibelung saga
was one of the first mechanical beasts to lurch across the screen
on wheels and open his mighty jaws...
design of such early robots looked more like coal-mining than
computer making ;But at least they worked.
end result was mighty and fearsome,and SIEGFRIED
was savaged most satisfactorily by the dragon........
a nightmare bite has proved one of the primary fears of mankind,
culminating in the incredible success of the robot-shark in
between the... 50 Years, between the SIEGFRIED
and JAWS, a host of mechanical monsters have stalked
the screen,often looking like the animated fantasies of HIERONYMOUS
ranged from gigantic insects to...mannish deformations to foetal abortions.....
monster from Green Hell (1956),was more crab than colossus,
even if he was an unstopable horror... The Deadly Mantis
(1957) was an overgrown example of the species,treating
cars like flies in his murderous advance....The beings in Invasion
of the Hell Creatures(1957),were bulging out all
over with grey matter,quite enough to overawe the silly and
lesser minds of men........
the end, however, the most satisfactory of the robot movie
was a mechanical replica, created to defeat another movie
gargantua..In the fantasist Japanese film,KING KONG ESCAPES
,the mighty ape found himself confronted with his metal
other self...Yet justice was done. Even the burning rays
of the robot Kong,could not destroy the rearing flesh of
the largest man-monkey of them all..!! Once again, blood
beat metal in the morality play that is the true monster
Chaplin, was always the little man facing the big world,devoted
a whole film to taking on the mighty machine and losing to it
. He might be blithe about trying to master the cogs and levers
of the factory in Modern Times(1936),but finally, the
machine chewed him up and swallowed him and finally excreted
him like a titbit, just to prove its supremacy......
Dr. Cyclops(1939) , the mechanism for shrinking human
beings into slave dolls was a radium canister, kept down an
old mineshaft...Once miniaturised,the humans were no more than
fleas hopping about beneath the pincers of terrible and gigantic
we have used machines to conduct experiments,cannot we ourselves
become the subjects of experiments by the machines??????.....That
terror is expressed at its most extreme in the James
Bond fantasy..Goldfinger(1964). In that extravaganza,the
hero (Sean Connery) is threatened with emasculation
by a giant laser beam, the ultimate threat and triumph of
mechanical rape againt male pride...
the recent,Death Race 2000 ,Frankestein is ressurected
behind the wheel of his killer car,The Monster..He
aims to kill the maximum nunber of pedestrians and reach the finish
line before his rivals..He is masked in black, because of three
near fatal accidents already-- his body is a walking miracle of
surgery and scarcely ..his..
underground classic took the fear of the automobile to its final
conclusion.............. ..In ,The Cars That Ate Paris (1975),
the youths of the little town of Paris,set up
accidents to steal the parts of the wrecked cars of visitors
for their hot-rods............They constuct fearsome-deadly
spiked monsters of racers and they attack their own town and
destroy it with their avenging cars..
Godard"s ,Alphaville (1965),an evil computer
controls the whole of mankind,until Lemmy Caution
shoots it with his little gun and suddenly every human being
is ..unprogrammed and unalive!!!..
The Avengers (1965) ,Diana Rigg tried to
fight off Christopher Lee, playing a ..Karate
robot and she did so, which was not the case in Westworld(1973),where.....
.....Yul Brynner played the rebelious robot-gunman
going berserk and hunting down all the holiday makers,who had
expected to shoot him down for a thrill in that computerized
two recent films made the Hephaestus and the Frankestein
strain seem very near ,the here and now... One was the
THX 1138 (1969) , in which computers and robot policemen
mastermind a drugged population in an underground city.... A
girl cuts off the hero"s drug supply, which has acted like
the traditional bromide in the soldiers tea and has stopped
him thinking of sex.. He falls in love with her , she is killed
by the robots, he escapes to the sunlight and the surface of
second film ..
Soylent Green (1973), were the Malthusian nightmare
of an overpopulated world of city mobs, controlled by a few
men using machines to scoop up any dissidents like a spoon scoops
up grits, is the final....solution.................
we were told to multiply and replenish the earth...
have done so,and we find that we are multiplying and replenishing
WE are HEPHAESTUS, WE are PROMETHEUS,
WE are FRANKESTEIN......
We can make all the machines we want and we can make more mankind
than we do want...But if we make too many of both robots and
replacements for ourselves, we will become ..robots of the flesh----forced
to live like....regimented ants just to survive....