Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Review:- "Colossus - The Forbin Project" (1970)

"Colossus:- The Forbin project" is a 1970 film based on the 1966 novel "Colossus" (the first novel in a series of three) by British author D.F Jones.

The film (and the book) deals with the aftermath of the activation of an U.S supercomputer defence system, designed and built by Dr. Charles Forbin with the intention of using it firstly to remove human emotion from decisions based around the defence of the free world, and secondly to provide mankind with an invaluable tool with which to pursue peaceful scientific development.
Once activated though, Colossus has other ideas...

The film itself is an enjoyable enough bit of a sci-fi cold war techno thriller, and although many such films have been made in recent years exploring what would happen if mankind became too reliant on technology for decision making, at the time of its release in 1970, it was a bit of an oddity.
With heavy satirical overtones and bits of humour dotted throughout, the film does well in exploring the theme of human powerlessness when faced with a superior foe.
In addition, it helps that many of the players in the film are largely unknown (or forgotten) "B-list" actors, even though the film was made on a fairly high budget, much of this appears to have been spent on some of the special effects and props used throughout.
The lead character, Dr. Charles Forbin, is played by German actor Eric Braeden , however the role was originally offered to both Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston, who were both unable to take it due to their commitments to other projects, so the films producer, Stanley Chase, decided instead to go with Braeden in the lead role, as he said he preferred a relative unknown so as not to draw the focus of the film away from the main storyline, which is indeed somewhat difficult to follow in places.   

Unlike in many depictions of the "computer gone mad" genre, Colossus is not depicted as a genocidal maniac, but rather as a kind of benevolent dictator, which acts on its core programming of preventing war by directly controlling mankind and steering it towards an era of enforced peace via the sacrifice of many personal freedoms.
The film contains many humourous scenes based around Colossus' complete inability to understand human behavior, for example a scene in which it does not understand what Forbin is doing as he prepares a martini for himself, and in a scene where Forbin discusses his sexual needs.

All in all, I enjoyed this film, as unlike many other similar films that came after it, it doesn't spend too much time concentrating on infodump, and when it does it does so in a way that it fits nicely in with the storyline.
In addition the film eschews all of the usual extravagant and/or over the top special effects sequences usually associated with sci-fi films (although it must be said that at the time it was made this was not a cliche within sci-fi films) in favour of many practical effects and contemporary imagery and props.
The film is available on DVD but can be difficult to find, therefore a link is provided here so that you can watch the full film online.

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