Following on from "A For Andromeda" Fleming and Andromeda are recaptured by the British government but then kidnapped along with Professor Dawnay by the forces of Intel, headed by Kaufman ... See full summary »
Following on from "A For Andromeda" Fleming and Andromeda are recaptured by the British government but then kidnapped along with Professor Dawnay by the forces of Intel, headed by Kaufman and the evil Gamboule, and are taken to the Middle East country Azaran, whose leaders hope to make use of Fleming & Dawnay's skills... and Andromeda's other worldly abilities... Written by
"Breakthrough" continues where A4A leaves off, although with the delightful Susan Hampshire replacing Julie Christie in the title role of Andromeda, an artificially created girl who is a protoplasmic computer.
After John Fleming (Peter Halliday) and Andromeda destroy the computer which, in A4A, is constructed from an intergalactic(?) radio transmission, Andre apparently drowns in a pool on an island off the Scottish coast. Breakthrough opens with the discovery that Andre has not drowned and John escapes with her.
Pursued by the British government, bent on having revenge for destruction of their chance of world domination, and the business cartel "Intel", personified with shaven head, thin lips, rimless glasses and thin cheroot cigars by Herr Kaufmann (played with utterly satisfying, almost pantomime evil by John Hollis), who seem eager to have Fleming for their own obviously nefarious purpose, John and Andre are first of all captured by the British, then Intel, and the story moves swiftly to Azaran, an impoverished Middle Eastern "oil nation" seeking freedom from British Colonialism.
Meanwhile around the world, the weather continues to deteriorate and whole populations die or are displaced as wild storms rage.
John is horrified to discover 3 things. (1) Andromeda seems to be physically deteriorating. (2) Madelaine Dawnay, the biologist who "created" Andromeda is working for Intel in Azaran. (3) Azaran has built their own computer from plans stolen by John's (dead) mate from "the old days", Denis Bridger and sold to Intel.
Further, Intel is seeking use Azaran as its own base for its shady dealings, as having one's own country to play with would be so convenient.
Here Peter Halliday really shines. John Fleming's character starts to unravel day by day, even hour by hour. He and Madelaine Dawnay are faced with the crushing reality of their choices they made both as scientists and people in the past - possible utter destruction of the world's life. Mary Morris, as Madelaine Dawnay, gives another stellar performance as a genuine caring soul, though with a seemingly gruff exterior, who struggles to right the mistakes, making one agonising decision after another about what to do first, knowing that no matter what she does, someone will die.
John Fleming, confronted by his nightmare from the past, dashes in one direction, then another, wanting Andromeda to live, yet wishing she were dead, to, as he sees it, save the world, wanting to destroy the computer, yet trying to get Andromeda to use it to prevent another catastrophe, but knowing that in using the computer, Andromeda deteriorates more quickly. The deterioration may or may not be an intentional "obsolescence" in her original design, and can possibly be rectified - with time. Above all he utterly fails to convince himself that he's not in love with her, wanting to save her and take her away, yet doing his best not to trust her.
Susan Hampshire has both an easy job and a difficult one. The difficult one? To try and give a performance which matches Christie in her icy implacability, her logicality, as she struggles with her inherited emotions and feelings which eventually led to her demise in the first series. It's easier in the sense that that character ceased to exist with the destruction of the first computer and she (Hampshire) had then to deal with a (as she says) semi-human- semi-zombie, with intelligence but little knowledge, emotions but little experience with them, and living in a world she helped to create but knows little or nothing about, while witnessing her own tragedy, unable to reconcile her own growing love for Fleming with her inbuilt "duty to the computer's logic". (She acknowledges in the interview on the DVD that in hindsight, it would have been better for her to have known more about the first story.) The tragedy could be Shakespearean.
The production itself was in some senses, probably less satisfying than A4A, because there are many more scenes involving "loss of control" eg use of "stock footage", war scenes, tanks, planes, troops advancing in a determined manner, with the clash of film grain and timing, attempt to translate the scene to "the middle East". (I don't read anything other than English but some of the "foreign writing" looked decidedly cheesy.) But these are generally but distractions.
Whilst it tries to end on a "happy note", despite glimpses of sunshine and butterflies and rebirth of nature, I was left with the memory of the massive destruction and death that had been portrayed (which sadly are, even now, being played out, albeit on a reduced scale, in the real world) and the huge losses which will need to be recovered in the coming generation(s).
One of the nicely unresolved questions is who was "wrong"? Was the original message sent with malice, benefice or cold logic unswayed by such petty concerns?
Was Dawnay, with her great-hearted nobility to help humanity, but blinkered by this nobility, drawn down the seductive/destructive path "the Dark Side") by naiveté?
Was it John Fleming, with his anti-establishment attitude, but brilliant mind, ill-informed, bent on egotistical gratification, or was he truly aghast with the future as he saw it, and in fighting to prevent that future, made a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Intel, with its tentacles/claws in every pocket or soul, yet without whom the world WOULD have been destroyed (since they built the second computer)? Immoral or amoral?
Without doubt, it's a morality play. H.G. Wells was very pro-science on occasion and thus wrote some great literature not always hampered by questions of morality and ethics. Writers John Eliot and scientist the late Fred Hoyle, paint here a frightening picture of the results of failure to engage the mind before putting the hands into gear, with perhaps using the heart as the clutch.
Should be compulsory for all science students.
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