Originally created 05/16/03

Technology can be sinister



This weekend, millions of us (myself included) will hop into our cars, drive to a theater, buy tickets on a computer-monitored credit card and watch a movie about the dangers of technology, The Matrix Reloaded, electronically projected onto the silver screen.

Ironic, isn't it?

It's a drill that has been repeated since the early days of cinema. For some reason, audiences have an affinity for films about technology run amok. In fact, one of the earliest films was a Thomas Edison production of Frankenstein, the prototype for every technology-bites-back story written since.

Here are some technological cautionary tales, each available in high-tech video and DVD formats:

BLADE RUNNER (1982): When this film was released, much was made of its still-stunning visual style. However, as the years have passed, the film's themes of technological tampering in matters genetic have become more timely. After all, a carbon copy of a sheep is one thing, but a murderous, head-crushing Rutger Hauer is quite another.

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968): Director Stanley Kubrick was never one to shy from nihilistic material. In his science-fiction masterwork, he looks at technology - from the bone hammer to a spaceship's homicidal hardware - as both a help and a handicap in terms of mankind's evolution. Particularly unnerving are the scenes with the unblinking computer HAL on a murderous rampage.

KOYAANISQATSI (1983): A triumph of visual communication, filmmaker Godfrey Reggio's extended tone-poem delivers a powerful treatise on mankind's destructive lust for technology - without a word being spoken. Both troubling and beautiful, the film features powerful cinematic images accompanied by an ethereal soundtrack composed by famed minimalist Phillip Glass. The results are haunting.

BRAZIL (1985): In the world of Brazil, nothing is to be trusted. Not the government, co-workers, family, friends - and certainly not technology. Set in a blackly comic Dystopia, Brazil features a crazy-quilt of raw technology that seems to be purposefully invading the world of man. Visually arresting and deeply thoughtful, Brazil manages to be funny, frightening, serious and sad simultaneously.

METROPOLIS (1927): In an imagined city where technological progress and inhumanity go hand-in-hand, revolution seems inevitable. However, the wonder of Metropolis is that the revolution is the only predictable plot-point. Filled with memorable images and none-too-subtle subtext, this cautionary tale remains a beautiful, if slightly bewildering, masterpiece.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.