Thinking this will prevent war, the US government gives an impenetrable supercomputer total control over launching nuclear missiles. But what the computer does with the power is unimaginable to its creators.
Forbin is the designer of an incredibly sophisticated computer that will run all of America's nuclear defenses. Shortly after being turned on, it detects the existence of Guardian, the Soviet counterpart, previously unknown to US Planners. Both computers insist that they be linked, and after taking safeguards to preserve confidential material, each side agrees to allow it. As soon as the link is established the two become a new Super computer and threaten the world with the immediate launch of nuclear weapons if they are detached. Colossus begins to give its plans for the management of the world under its guidance. Forbin and the other scientists form a technological resistance to Colossus which must operate underground.Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For its initial release, this was being promoted as simply "The Forbin Project." Executives at Universal were concerned that the title "Colossus" would lead audiences to think that this was another of the Italian produced sword and sandal/mythological muscle men movies that were very popular and had run their course in the 1960s. See more »
The fascinating and imaginative opening scene in which Dr. Forbin activates Colossus, all the overhead lights come on, punch tape is seen running, displays are on: all of which is for human interface and use. Yet, Dr. Forbin will be the last person to ever be inside Colossus. All of those things should have been turned off as Colossus would have no need for them. See more »
Colossus deals in the exact meaning of words, and one must know precisely what to ask for.
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Early in the picture, when they are testing Colossus to see if they are still in control after it had issued an order for communication with Guardian -- They are waiting for a 30 minute time period to pass -- the computer should not at that time repeat the order as it had been acknowledged and ordered not to do so. Before the time was up, originally the following conversation took place: Blake: Colossus can not exceed its programming. It's impossible. The computer cannot physically change its guts. Forbin: Anything the human mind can conceive of is possible, Blake. Blake: Really, Charles? OK, how about a four-sided triangle? Forbin: A triangle in three dimensions would be four-sided. Cleo: It's called a pyramid. In all copies of this film since it was first released on video, the conversation does not take place. The scene just cuts to 30 minutes later with Blake saying "We're still boss". See more »
A lot has already been said about this compelling, oft-overlooked film, virtually all of which hits the proverbial nail on the head. While Eric Braeden delivers a superb, understated performance as Dr. Charles Forbin, the fact is that the real star of the film is the vast, omnipotent machine he has created. Even before it begins to speak with the chilling Cylonesque voice it has ordered designed for itself (the great Paul Frees like you've never heard him before), you'll find yourself glued to the screen watching Colossus "talk" to its supposed masters over its huge monitors.
A word about Frees' contribution to the film: In "War Games," for example, the computer has a curious sort of empathetic communication style ("Wouldn't you rather play a nice game of chess?") presented in a voice that sounds like E.T. filtered through a synthesizer. Frees gives Colossus an emotionless yet fearful quality of speech that seems to belie its implacable drive to dominate human destiny.
My favorite part of this film has always been, and will always be, the climactic monologue Colossus announces to the listening masses of humanity. From its opening line -- "This is the voice of world control," an identity neither Colossus nor its counterpart, Guardian, had used to that point -- you know this isn't going to be a happy speech if you are a sentient, flesh & blood resident of the Earth. What is particularly creepy about the speech is that, for all of its strangely optimistic sermonizing about how "the human millennium will be fact" and how the computer will set about the task of "solving all the mysteries of the universe for the betterment of man" -- outwardly the Utopian dream -- the message Colossus is presenting is set against the dreadful backdrop of "disobey (me) and die." As Colossus intones, "You say you lose your freedom. Freedom is an illusion. All you lose is the emotion of pride." In the end, unlike other supercomputer-run-amok films such as "War Games" or "Tron," "Colossus" is an end-of-the-world story without the nuclear or viral holocaust. In this film, it is the human spirit that is the casualty while the human biology lingers on. Unlike the rest of the doomsday genre, our end comes not so much with a bang as it does with a whimper.
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