In an unnamed English-speaking capitalist land, a young engineer invents inexhaustible giant robots to replace the fragile human workers on high-volume assembly-lines, and soon finds his ... See full summary »
In an unnamed English-speaking capitalist land, a young engineer invents inexhaustible giant robots to replace the fragile human workers on high-volume assembly-lines, and soon finds his invention co-opted by the military-industrial complex. Written by
Urban legend has defined this title as a filmed version of Karel Capek's play R.U.R., apparently on the strength of stills which show the film's robots bearing the logo, RUR. In fact, no screen credit is given Capek or his play, and the plot resembles the play only in the general sense that both concern robots replacing human workers. This film, however, portrays this as a disastrous and villainous idea, in stark contrast to Capek's Utopian view of robotics. In addition, its robots are emotionless and mindless machines, rather than the emotional and rational androids of the Czech play. See more »
Jim Ripl (Sergei Vecheslov, who looks like Conrad Veidt), an engineer at a military industrial establishment, is accused by his fellow workers of being a traitor after he invents a child-sized robot capable of fulfilling almost any task. Although Ripl sees the creation as being beneficial to the worker, the workers themselves fear that robots will make their very existence redundant and destroy the little bot.
Six months later, Ripl is on the other side, unveiling an army of eight- foot high robots to the capitalist leaders of the establishment. Ripl still hopes to win his former colleagues over with his creations, but the leaders have different ideas
This is a typically political Soviet sci-fi in which the invention of the robot is seen as taking the very purpose of the working classes away. It's surprising that, in an era in which the automation was still a work of fiction, there were such serious fears concerning the repercussions of replacing men with robots in the work place.
Naturally, this being the Communist Soviet Union, the whole thing is seen from the worker's perspective, with leadership figures seen as brutal and callous. From the very first shot, we see images of the working class sleeping in the streets and queuing at homeless shelters and this is before the robots put them out of work!
This is a very bizarre film, and at time pretty amateurish. The robots don't look as bad as some of those in serial from around the same time, and the acting is adequate, but the direction is slack and cinematography is quite raw.
At least twice, the political ponderings are broken by musical numbers in a night club! And on the subject of music, Ripl uses an impressive substitute for remote controlling the robots here: a whistle and a saxophone! Fans of action though will be glad to know it's not all just class war dialogue, as the robots go crazy during the climax, killing and crushing anyone who gets in their way.
While this isn't exactly a forgotten classic, it's pretty unique and a worthy novelty for its historical, political and technical standing. Just don't expect it to come out on DVD any time soon!
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