Set over the course of a weekend tournament for chess software programmers thirty-some years ago, Computer Chess transports viewers to a nostalgic moment when the contest between technology and the human spirit seemed a little more up for grabs. We get to know the eccentric geniuses possessed of the vision to teach a metal box to defeat man, literally, at his own game, laying the groundwork for artificial intelligence as we know it and will come to know it in the future. Written by
I don't want to reveal too much here. No spoilers. I did not know anything at all about Computer Chess before I sat down at the local rep house to view it, maybe you shouldn't either. It seemed like it was an old documentary about an early (1979) contest to design a computer program that could beat a human being at chess. I thought, as I was watching it, that eventually the documentary would jump to the present day, and interview the participants in that contest, and provide revelations about the the development of artificial intelligence, and perhaps about the evolution of the participants in that early competition. But, at some point, maybe 10 or 15 minutes into the film, I realized that what I thought the movie was about was not at all what the movie was about. And I thought to myself, Wow! Incredibly the movie manages to merge a story about a bunch of extreme tech nerds with a story about a bizarre cult of seekers of sexual and spiritual awakening. My movie-going companion and I were both entranced all during the film, and couldn't stop talking about it afterwards.
This movie is the real deal: it's what we used to go to the movies for. Complexity, surprise, enthrallment, humor, enigmas, revelations. Ambiguity. Somehow a bunch of people down in Austin, Texas made the perfect movie.
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