Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Man and Machine: A Love Story

One of the MANY great threads running through Duncan Jones' tremendous new film "Moon" is the complicated relationship between Sam Rockwell's lunar miner and the only other entity he is able to communicate with on the Dark Side of the Moon, GERTY (Kevin Spacey, you have one creepy voice).

At first, it's almost like the relationship between a master and his pet. Only it becomes clear very quickly that who you think is in those roles, is not really the case. Then the tension between the two increases, until...well, you'll just have to see the film to find out.

I've been talking this movie up for more than two months now. I just hope now that it's finally opening (NY/LA this weekend) it will find the audience it deserves.

One of the many things "Moon" has made me think about is how humans and highly-evolved machines get along in the movies. While often it's an adversarial relationship - Machines rebel against their creators, go A.I. and tell puny humans to know their role -- there are just as many examples of light-hearted bromances, like Buck Rogers and the 25th century sidekick Twiggy, and of course that 80s Dynamic Duo, Michael Knight and K.I.T.T.

There are so many other examples... two that come to mind is Dr. David Bowman butting wireheads with HAL in "2001: A Space Odyssey", and of course, the two droids who showed Luke Skywalker there was more to life than moisture vaporators on Tattoine. Go ahead and take your bow, Threepio, R2.

When done well, this dynamic delivers strong commentary on everything from our growing dependence on modern technology to the dangers of artificially intellectualizing (is that even a word?) the devices and gadgets we build, because we're too lazy to do things on our own. They can also be great comic relief. And who doesn't get a kick from a cute, bumbling robot now and again?

I know I'm missing several other notable examples. Care to enlighten me? LMK your memorable Man (or Woman) & Machine movie relationships. Post 'em in the comments.

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