Film (1973). MGM. Directed by Michael Crichton. Written by Crichton. Cast includes Richard Benjamin, James Brolin and Yul Brynner. 88 minutes. Colour.
Westworld is in a future theme park, Delos, that contains also Roman and Medieval "worlds"; its permanent occupants – even the horses – are Robot simulacra, controlled by human technicians in an Underground laboratory. Two male visitors on holiday enjoy out-drawing the local robot gunman (Brynner) and sleeping with the acquiescent robot saloon girls, and it seems that the film will be a comedy about the tawdriness of men's machismo fantasies, safely acted out in a purely Hollywood "Wild West". Next day, however, the Brynner robot shoots one of the men dead, the beginning of a revolt by the machines with the implacable gunman as its focus. The puncturing of the fantasy forces us to question our reliance on machinery rather than on ourselves (Crichton's theme for several films to come). With a subtext about our exploitation of slaves and coolies, Crichton's first theatrical feature – he had directed the made-for-tv Pursuit (1972) – is wittily macabre, and makes its debating points with clarity if not with subtlety. The novelization, by Crichton, is Westworld (1974).
Westworld's inferior sequel was Futureworld (1976), not by Crichton. A spinoff television series, Beyond Westworld (1980), ran for only three episodes, with two further episodes made but unaired. Produced and mainly written by Lou Shaw for MGM TV, this told of a Westworld Scientist who steals androids for sinister purposes. [PN/JB]
see also: Cinema; Virtual Reality.
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