The world before ‘Star Wars’
December 20, 2015
Inspired in part by the Japanese subgenre of giant robot movies, the 1976 Korean animated feature Robot Taekwon V is a charmingly chintzy-looking cartoon about a heroic scientist who counters his evil counterpart by pitting his lone super-android against the villain’s mechanical army. When the Star Wars robots debuted a year later, they were so charming that they altered the way these kinds of characters were deployed in the years that followed. Pre-1977, robots in 1970s science-fiction movies tended to be personality-free tools of justice or weapons of war. Sometimes they were malicious in another way entirely, as in the 1973 thrillerWestworld and its 1976 sequel Futureworld, where advanced animatronic amusement park attractions develop sentience and begin to kill the guests. In that same sinister vein, the big-screen adaptation of Dean Koontz’s novel Demon Seed, released in April 1977, stars Julie Christie as a woman who gets impregnated by her estranged husband’s supercomputer.
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