Westworld (Michael Crichton, 1973)

A robot malfunction creates havoc and terror for unsuspecting vacationers at a futuristic, adult-themed amusement park.

In a not so distant future, people are traveling to a remote setting where they can experiment the life of three distant past : the Old West, a Medieval court, and the Roman Empire. All of this is controlled by programmers that control robots with humanoid appearance. Much like HAL 9000 in 2001 : A Space Odyssey, the robots eventually take control of the amusement park and drift from the original purpose of the park and becomes harmful for its visitors. Staring Yul Brynner as one of the robots a full copy of his character in The Magnificient Seven, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin as two visitors of the Old West, Westworld is a reference in pop culture and an iconic Science fiction film.

Inspired from the Disney parks and the trademark animatronics, Westworld presents a way to vacation that is not that far from us with the constant eveolution of technologies at the service of humans. It could have been even more interesting to see a social commentary on the fat that the machines were evolved and revolted against humans who serviled them as their slaves. Just like the robot that refuses the advances of one of the Medieval visitors. The technicians see it as a malfunction but it could be a normal reaction for a real woman to refuse the advances of a man.

Director Michael Crichton who also was a succesful author of many novels including Jurassic Park, which is a better twist and exploitation of the concept he explored in Westworld, was one of the reasons why I wanted to watch the 1973 film. There’s also an episode of The Simpsons where they get to the Itchy and Scratchy Park populated with robots trying to kill the family. Those are some of the many reasons why Westworld is worth the look, but as a film this is more on the okay side of appreciation and the ending feels a bit flat.
Crichton wanted his settings to be cliché and almost false or fake to remind us that his characters are in an amusement park inspired by films and the imaginary perception we have of times in History. Just like that old saying from the great John Ford : print the legend. Crichton wanted to create a world where the commentary and the story surpass the sets and the clichés.

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