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'Westworld': Everything under Control?

Westworld M Crichton Yul Brynner 1973

We have got a vacation for you... where nothing can possibly go wrong... [Image: film frame]

If not long ago we wrote about the dystopian Soylent Green, this time we will do it on another film that presented us back in 1973 a scenario where the future vacations of human beings would be in the company of other similar ones, but with metal souls. Precisely in this way, Metal souls, was how the movie Westworld was translated in Spain, being its year of release curiously the same as that of Soylent Green.

Westworld is directed by a Michael Crichton who was quite unknown at the time, but who in 1990 would destroy sales and popularity thanks to his novel Jurassic Park, which would be the basis of the saga of the same name brought to the big screen. As for the plot, a company offers the protagonists of the film three theme parks where they can spend their vacations: Ancient Rome, the Medieval Times or the Wild West. It is in the latter that the pair of friends who co-star in the film will end up, played by James Brolin and Richard Benjamin, who will run into a third protagonist, Yul Brynner, in the role of a machine with a human appearance that has been programmed by the technicians of the company as, and never better said, the bad guy in the movie. Although it is an amusement park, its tourists will live and face real life scenes, as real as the bullets they carry in their revolvers. Everything is prepared so that the visitors come out unscathed from any set, and only the humanoids suffer possible damage. Of course, something can always go wrong...

This is one of the last interpretations on celluloid of a Yul Brynner who is reminiscent, at least for his clothing and the role of gunslinger, of The Magnificent Seven. And although it seems that Crichton wanted in his film, at least with the character of Brynner, to make a small nod to the one directed by John Sturges 13 years earlier, the comparison in other aspects, outside of the outfit, has no reason to be.

The Creative Hand

The company that runs the theme park has not skimped on details so that the experience of its customers hardly differs from the situations that occurred in real life in each of the three periods that are the object of its offer. Thus, it is practically impossible for tourists to distinguish their fellow vacationers from the robots with which they interact. However, there is one small detail that the experts who build and repair the machines have not quite perfected: their hands. Is the director suggesting to us that the hands of fake humans are just as imperfect as their creators are? And from a spiritual and religious point of view, is he conveying the message that defying the Hand of Creation by human beings who claim the creative function will have dire consequences?

As predictably, everything is going well until the androids seem to be learning with their daily routines of interaction with humans -artificial intelligence-, which together with the continuous repairs for the damage derived from the use of weapons, which end up causing certain malfunctions, causes a breeding ground to be formed that will lead to the expected situation by the audience where everything seems to be out of control.

Thus, Crichton seems to be warning us of how dangerous it is for human beings to play at being gods or directly believe themselves to be such. Which can also be seen clearly in Jurassic Park with genetic engineering.

As an anecdote, note that Westworld was the first film to use two-dimensional computer-generated imagery. Its sequel, Futureworld (1976), would also be the first to do it in three dimensions, and it would also be the last film in which Yul Brynner would appear, making a cameo.

Seeing the worrying stage of dehumanization that seems to be ravaging us for a long time, it is worth wondering if those who today play at being gods or believe they are gods conceive the world as a great theme park where a metal soul ends up being a common denominator not only of the machines, but of human beings themselves...