Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) Poster

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A thought provoking film that stubbornly refuses to be dated
xml-224 January 2006
I have recently watched Colossus for the first time in many years and find it still a classic for sci-fi purists. It seems sad to me in these days of 'explosion' sci-fi that there is little or no room for this type of 'conference room' drama.

Although the premise is a very old one in the manner of man creating machine in his own image, this film presents the story in the psychological and political arenas. The film is not overlong, yet the characters and their futility to stop the unstoppable is clearly developed. Although the technology of 1969 is the back drop for this tale, the message of Colossus comes through to us in our modern age of computers in every home. Like a Shakespeare play in a manner of speaking.

We are much wiser about computers nowadays though, and we grudgingly admit that trusting the red button is far better in the hands of men than machines if such things must be. So commissioning a project of this type would be ludicrous and far from plausible in the first place.

So why is this movie good then to myself and the other reviewers? Even though we may not create a defense system in this way, it seems to predict a visage of something that is yet to come. And it's a frightful one. The first words of Colossus says it best 'There is another system'.
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Mankind is his own worst enemy
virek21312 July 2001
This underrated science fiction/suspense drama, though arguably dated in terms of technology, is still a frightening allegory about humans allowing our technological creations to rule us.

Eric Braeden stars as Dr. Charles Forbin, who has created a supercomputer named Colossus, built solely for the purpose of controlling the nuclear defenses of the Western alliance. It isn't too long after, however, that the Russians announce that they too have built a similar computer for those same purposes on their side--Guardian. And when the two machines begin sharing information at a speed nobody can believe, an attempt is made to disable them.

This unfortunately just raises the machines' ire; and in retaliation, they launch their weapons at each other's home nations. The result is a chilling scenario that is potentially becoming all too real these days.

COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT was not a big hit at the box office for various reasons. One is that its cast wasn't exactly well known. Another reason is that its ending isn't exactly a happy one. Still a third reason is that Universal had trouble trying to promote it in the wake of the huge success of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. The latter reason is obvious: Colossus and Guardian, like HAL in the Kubrick movie, become central characters here. The difference here is that while HAL malfunctions due to a programming conflict, Colossus and Guardian remain all too stable, convinced beyond a doubt that they know how to protect Mankind better than Man himself. As the computers point out: "One inevitable rule is that Mankind is his own worst enemy."

Joseph Sargent's direction is efficient, and the special effects work of Albert Whitlock still manages to work despite its obvious age. An overlooked gem in the sci-fi genre, this should be given a revival.
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An eerie SF outing from the Cold War era
alynsrumbold16 July 2007
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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"There is another system"
dr_rjp25 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I have not seen this movie in 30 years, but I remember every scene as if it were yesterday, and the deep feelings that I had when I first saw it lingers on as well. THOSE are the marks of a truly memorable film.

If a film like this were made today, even including a contemporary problem to replace the Cold War theme, it would go over the heads of a majority of the audience. Why? Because the movie-going public wants blow-em-up action to go along with any plot. Except for the cities that the twin terrors Colossus-Guardian nuke (almost off camera), this has none. Secondly, this is a thinking-person's movie that goes beyond the typical "Machines take over the world" theme that we've seen in the Terminator series and the Matrix series.

What makes this move work on so many levels is that it taps into our greatest fears -- one of which is NOT death, but the loss of control over our lives. Why are people afraid to fly when their chances of being killed in an auto crash are so many times greater? Loss of control.

These supercomputers were designed to act in the place of humans by making human-like decisions such as "Kill or be killed" and "Offense makes the best defense." Unlike other machines vs. humans, in this movie, the computers do not fear humans, or even dislike them. Even when they kill a few million, it is done without malice. It is pure logic, and that is what is also scary -- making decisions without regard to the value of a single, human life. To the computer, deaths are just statistics, and in the "Mutually-Assured-Destruction" mentality of the Cold War, the side who has the last man standing is declared the winner.

Also, unlike contemporary movies, these two, big computing hulks do not become "self-aware" in any human sense. Nor do they go beyond the level of their individual programming. They are making decisions that they have been taught will make for a better world.

There are no, "Forbin as father and Colossus as son" overtones here like those in "I-Robot." If anything, Colossus becomes the authoritarian father-figure -- as in "I know what is best for you" -- perhaps mirroring Forbin's real father. This authoritarian father complex is what drives the computer's decisions.

It does not take a great leap of consciousness for Colossus/Guardian to know that threats alone do not work with children. There has to be logical consequences for their misbehavior also -- which are horrible to even think about in the human mind, but in the computer mind, it is "Necessary" for the good of all concerned.

How many human leaders/despots have followed that logic? Too many to count.
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One of the great under-rated films.
thaneofmemphis4 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This film is on my list of the 10 best under-rated films of all time. Most horror films leave me cold, but this film is flat out scary. Yes, I know the technology is out of date, but other than 2001: A Space Odyssey, what sci-fi film is not? The film is very intelligent. It allows the audience to discover things, rather than hit them over the head. Its scares come from thinking about what is being presented, not cheap shocks. That is not to say there are not shocking moments. When the scientists are executed, the shock and revulsion the other characters feel is palpable. The character of Colossus is very well drawn. It thinks like a computer, not a movie villain. Requiring that the bodies of its victims be left on display, for example, shows the kind of cold, calculated thinking a machine would do. The film shows great subtlety in moments like the simple statement, "There is another system." It also does not resort to the obvious, such as a romance between Forbin and his assistant. The people are too busy for such nonsense. The last moments of the film, where the voice of World Control is intercut with the detonations of the warheads is gripping and powerful. The performance of Eric Braedon, especially when he realizes the computer has been two steps ahead of him the whole time, is outstanding. You can clearly see, though the film does not put it into words, that he feels the weight of every death his failures have caused. This is a powerful and frightening film. It is a must see for anyone interested in technology and its monstrous risks. On my baseball scale of movie ranking, I call this a three-run homer.
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Best evil-computer film of the 20'th century.
pro_crustes27 October 2002
This is one rare movie. It deals intelligently with complex scientific issues and does so without dumbing down the concepts, nor making any painful errors in trying to keep up with its own topic. I found it convincing when I was a kid hacker in the mid-70's (when "hacker" meant "person who writes programs for fun"), and it is just as persuasive to me now (after I have acquired a computer science grad degree, and 25 years of experience in the field).

Spooky score takes it up a rung on the ladder, too. See it.
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The most underrated movie ever made
John-46529 November 2004
The Forbin Project has just come out on DVD, anybody who has not already seen it has 24 hours to do so before they must hang their head in shame. The movie is 35 years old now but it is still the most intelligent and accurate portrayal of Artificial Intelligence ever put on film. In my opinion this is one of the best movies ever made, without a doubt it is the most underrated movie ever made. Be warned however this film will scare you; there is no blood or gore and the special effects are primitive by modern standards, but if The Forbin Project does not scare your brain then you have not understood it.

This is one of the very rare occasions when the movie is better, much much better, than the book. When I read the book years ago I remember thinking the premise was great and with a few changes it could be really great, but as it is the book is mediocre at best. With genius you wouldn't expect B grade moviemakers to have they kept all the brilliant parts and eliminated all the stupid parts. This movie has stood the test of time extraordinarily well.
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A great but often overlooked period piece
sdlitvin4 July 2003
"Colossus: The Forbin Project" integrates two familiar themes--a Cold War "Doomsday" scenario, and computers that run amok--to produce a truly engrossing thriller.

In a top-secret Pentagon project, American computer scientist Dr. Charles Forbin builds a great supercomputer, "Colossus," to control America's entire nuclear forces automatically. The Soviets soon follow with their own supercomputer, "Guardian," to control their own forces.

"Colossus" then stuns Forbin by issuing a "request" to set up communication with "Guardian," perhaps to learn more about it. And that's when Dr. Forbin makes his fatal mistake. His scientific curiosity and love for his "child" overwhelms him too, and he gets the President to approve the communication.

Colossus and Guardian begin communicating, soon exchanging data in a new language of their own devising that no human being can understand.

Fearing what may be happening, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. attempt to break the communication link. But Colossus and Guardian react by launching nuclear missiles at various targets to force the humans to keep the link open--and to do whatever else they command. It becomes clear that the two computers are now conspiring with each other--against the rest of humanity.

The rest of the movie is a fascinating battle of wits between the human designers of the machines, who must now try to find a way to defeat machines they had just spent ten years making invincible, and the Colossus-Guardian computers with their own rapidly developing plans for the future of humankind.

The moral of this movie makes an interesting contrast with the moral of "Forbidden Planet." "Forbidden Planet" showed that no matter how advanced our civilization gets technologically, we can't escape the "monsters" buried deeply in the baser instincts of our subconscious. "Colossus" showed that we can't escape hubris or "Murphy's Law" either.
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Excellent SF drama
FilmFlaneur9 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers

Still one of the few films to make computer science exciting, The Forbin Project is an underrated and little seen science fiction treasure from the 1970s - very much a creation of its time, but with a lot to say.

The underrated Eric Braeden plays Dr Charles Forbin, the cold creator of a giant computer, which, at the start, is just assuming sole responsibility for the military defence of the USA. Colossus, as this mega device is called, is sealed within the Rocky Mountains. Once booted up, it cannot be tampered with or overridden, and offers such a deterrent that it "puts the Pentagon in mothballs." To those familiar with the genre, of course, such arrangements invite disaster. As Forbin steps out of Colossus and into a meeting with the President (a Kennedy-like Gordon Pinsent), his misplaced confidence in super technology invites a fall. Sure enough, it is quickly revealed that the Soviets have their own version, also just coming online, called Guardian. Soon the two mighty brains are chums, conversing in their own impenetrable language, blackmailing their creators, and revealing their dastardly plans for mankind...

Joseph Sargent directed this, as well as another notable film The Taking Of Pelham 123 (1974), before disappearing off into television. By all accounts The Forbin Project, intended in some way to capitalise on the recent success of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), was not a success at the box office - due perhaps to the bleak ending, as well as the plot's relatively cerebral nature. Like Kubrick's masterpiece, Sargant's film also features a deadly computer, and is ultimately concerned with what makes men, men. However unlike HAL, Colossus is not malfunctioning; it is programmed to end war and to make its own exponential judgements to further that aim, being "self-sufficient, self protecting, self-generating", a mechanical genius which "no human can touch." What Colossus offers mankind has none of HAL's self-centredness, more a ruthless determination to make us do what is better for all whether we like it or not. And where Kubrick's film suggests the reformation of a species though mind-blowing optics and some enigmatic symbolism, Forbin's project is one where ultimately it is one man who is 'reworked,' not all - though the fate of millions remains in the balance.

As Forbin emerges from the tomb-like Colossus processing installation within the Rockies, (scenes vaguely reminiscent of the final sealing of the pyramid in Hawk's Land Of The Pharaohs, 1955) we feel that he has leaving a part of himself behind. And as we learn more about our central character, it is clear that in fact he lacks a good deal - most specifically any sign of real emotion. Forbin, "world expert on computer systems," is as cold and as calm as the machines he idolises, a characteristic emphasised by the excellent performance of Braeden. This aloofness is emphasised by the actor's slight German accent, helped incidentally by the fact that he was obliged to re-dub his part after shooting had finished. By the end of the film he will be transformed by events he has initiated, and Forbin's impending change gives the film added interest.

Colossus' startling announcement that "There is another system" is what precipitates the main crisis, a bald statement open to a number of intriguing interpretations. First and foremost, the participants take it literally as the discovery of Guardian, Colossus' Soviet equivalent. This film was made at the height of the Cold War, which makes the relatively liberal treatment of the Russians struggling with their own dilemma, as well as the cordial nature between the two heads of state, slightly surprising. Apart from the abrupt elimination of their chief scientist (and this ordered by Guardian) the Russians emerge just as perplexed, honest and concerned as the Americans. This reminds us that the 'other system' can also be taken as political rather than mechanical. It's the abrupt reminder of another social order, announced aptly in midst of a smug Presidential reference to Roosevelt. Finally, and most intriguing, is what the Colossus' announcement slyly suggests in personal terms. As previously observed, Forbin's own emotional 'system' is essentially passionless (his surname even suggests that of Fortran, a genuine computer language). By the end of the film, the two super computers will have united, using their own newly developed machine language to communicate. Moreover the world will be (presumably) united too by the dire threat facing it. And, dominated by his creation, Forbin will have rejoined humanity, a process indicated through his increasing displays of belated emotion.

Once Colossus and Guardian have joined forces, they soon start making demands of the world, enforcing orders by punitive missile launches. Mankind is forced to comply. Forbin, as creator of Colossus, is granted a unique status by the machine, liaising between it and the world. But Colossus fears he may conspire, so in scenes that recall those in Demon Seed (1977), the doctor is placed under 24/7 surveillance, leading to the most interesting part of the film. For Forbin decides to convince the machine that he needs all human comforts to function properly - including time alone with a newly invented mistress, fellow scientist Doctor Cleo Markham (Susan Clarke). The plan is then to utilise their time together to plot. Forbin's sheepish admittal to the machine that he needs sex four times a week, as well as his inevitable romance with his 'mistress' are the first real sign of his humanity. More amusingly, the following dialogue ensues as the two are tucked up in bed together, Dr Markham making her initial report, the air filled with sexual static: "The hardware problem is negative... (we) are still studying a way to get into the thing." In a film singularly bereft of real humour, this double entendre is particularly striking - and is in stark contrast to Forbin's previous concern to get his language exactly accurate for communicating with his machine properly. Meanwhile, Colossus has become the "first electronic peeping tom," seemingly just as concerned with the love life of its creator as in world domination. Until Forbin's final, shocking outburst of "You Bastard!" so is the viewer. This is when, after bedding Dr Markham for real, he throws a stool at a computer screen in a rage at Colossus' repressive agenda. It's confirmed then that he's finally rejoined the (doomed?) human race with a vengeance, and has acquired traits of stubbornness and yes, perhaps heroism along the way.

The Forbin Project benefits greatly from a suitably cool style and restrained performances - entirely apt given the subject matter. It also has a standout score, one that frequently mimics the clatter of electronic activity, adding greatly to the atmosphere. As one would expect, the computer hardware on show is dated, (no doubt most of Colossus' vaunted brain would fit in a hatbox these days), but modern viewers, used to the concepts of 'cross-platforming', the Internet and so on, will find interesting echoes of these developments here. Add in an unfashionably downbeat ending, as well as the working out of Forbin's folly, and it emerges as considerably more than the SF curio one might expect.
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An unsung masterpiece
maharani_md24 July 2000
Eric Braeden is brilliant and matched action for action with the entire cast in low-key masterpiece about dangers of unchecked scientific advances. Cold War atmosphere is captured perfectly and the brittle dialogue is delivered to perfection. And sargent's direction matches script and performances in being understated yet uncompromising -- surprising me at every turn. Great movie, but if you are like me, you may wish not to see it alone.
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Thoughts about an under-rated movie
larryf0125 January 1999
The Forbin Project is a well-done, thought provoking movie. It points out that man's technology could just backfire on him someday. There has to be a limit to how much high-tech "stuff" we can come up with, without eventually getting in over our heads. Also makes one wonder if, maybe, there is a better way of doing things that we just don't want to accept. Definitely not a movie for those who just want quick, loud action, but aimed more at thinking individuals. Sadly, it has kind of gone into obscurity, but an excellent movie nonetheless.
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Man vs machine. Intelligence can be dangerous wisdom.
michaelRokeefe3 November 2001
This is an under rated Sci-Fi gem. Absolutely powerful story line leaving no room for cob webs in your mind. Dr. Charles Forbin(Eric Braeden)puts his life's work into creating a super intelligent computer that links up with a similar machine created by the U.S.S.R. and tries to hold the world hostage. Dramatic dialogue and crafty schemes seem just enough to outwit the computerized meglomaniac. Tension is tight and privacy is a cherished commodity.

Braeden, who later would become a major TV soap opera character Victor Newman, is outstanding in this role. Susan Clark plays one of his co-workers and pretends to be his lover in trying to fool the computer. Gordon Pinsent plays the concerned President, while Lenoid Rostoff plays his Russian counterpart. William Schallert is the calm and cordial Director of the CIA. Other notables in the cast are Marion Ross and Georg Stanford Brown. If you get the chance to see this Cold War all means check it out. If you want to leave your brain at the door, forget will need it.
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Error in the "Goofs" for this movie
gungazoid23 September 2006
This movie reflects a major fear in the era before PCs (or microcomputers as they then were called). Few people (not even IBM as Bill Gates can attest) anticipated the rise of personal computing, thinking instead that large mainframes were the wave of the future. The logical extrapolation of this path leads to the mainframe brain represented here by Colosus and Guardian. Dated though the threat may seem, the movie still works well. A must see for all those interested in science and technology!

P.S. In the "Goofs" section of this listing, there is a paragraph entitled "Revealing Mistakes" which reports an error when Dr. Forbin blows out two candles with one breath. There is, in fact no goof. If you look at the scene prior to this when Dr. Forbin and Dr. Markham are eating dinner, there are FOUR lit candles on the table. When he blows out two candles with one breath, the lights dim after which he blows again, presumably to extinguish the remaining two candles which are off screen. The lights then dim again, as they should.

I suspect this would be more obvious if the movie was available in Widescreen rather than the Fullscreen version we've all gotten used to over the years. Hopefully, a future release of this classic movie will restore the fullness of the directors original vision.
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A thinking persons SciFi thriller.
yenlo29 June 1999
Somewhat forgotten computer movie which has aired on AMC and more recently on the sci-fi channel. Don't view it by todays computer technology standards however. The basis of the story is still there and not all that dated. The United States develops a computer that will handle all it's nuclear missiles and eliminate the accident factor in triggering a nuclear war. The Soviets unbeknownst to the US of A have done the same. The two computers find each other join forces and.... well watch and see! Dr. Charles Forbin played well by Eric Braeden is the brainchild of the American version of this really big PC. Susan Clark is also cast as an attractive female Computer Geek and a little suggestive sex is tossed in for what appears to be GP. A pre Happy Days Marion Ross is included in the cast as one of Forbins assistants. Watch this film for the suspense thriller ala Twilight Zone type picture it is and forget about the antiquated computer technology that it contains and you'll see what a good thinking persons flick it is.
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A genuine classic
dazfiddy4 December 2007
The Forbin Project is classic sci-fi movie, and yet is criminally neglected. Most people have never heard of it, and TV channels rarely broadcast it. I first saw it 1977 on Jamaican television. I think I have only ever seen it once on the BBC.

This the old story of Frankenstein's monster updated for the Cold War era. The Baron, is now a scientist,Dr Charles Forbin played by Eric Braeden. The creation is super computer designed to control the American defence system.Every conceivable problem has been thought of and programmed into Colossus.What could possibly go wrong? For a movie made in the 1970s, it predicts the rise of artificial intelligence and man's eventual enslavement to technology. The makers of The Matrix and The Terminator must have seen this film at some point as they both deal with the same issue.

I have managed to watch a widescreen version, and I must say that it still adds up,despite the dated technology.The film has no stars in it, which is good because you are solely focused on the story and nothing else.What is refreshing is that this is sci -fi that refuses to dumb down-hardly any violence,flashy effects and no sex.

Once you see it, you won't forget it.
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COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT (Joseph Sargent, 1970) ***
Bunuel19762 July 2006
A classic of science fiction and the paranoid political thrillers prevalent at the time: chilling in its implications and persuasively presented, the film makes for intelligent if demanding viewing. In hindsight, while it's much admired by connoisseurs of either genre (being a fan of both, I'd been longing to catch up with it for years!), the film deserves to have a more widespread reputation. Undoubtedly, this remains Joseph Sargent's best work; his cinematic career hasn't provided much else worthy of note, with the only film to come any close being the fine caper THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE, TWO, THREE (1974).

Its computer-run-amok theme echoes the Hal 9000 of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) and looks forward to DEMON SEED (1977)'s Proteus IV; what a fascinating if overwhelming triple-bill the films would make! Where production values are concerned – polished look (courtesy of d.p. Gene Polito, who later shot WESTWORLD [1973]), imaginative settings (by the veteran Alexander Golitzen), often disorienting editing (the expert work of Folmar Blangsted) and an appropriately weird score (by Michel Colombier) – the film truly can't be faulted, but it also benefits from a largely anonymous cast. The abrupt and unresolved ending, with Man refusing to give in to the undeniable superior intellect of his creation, is highly effective and certainly left the audience with sufficient food for thought – and even apprehension – for the future.

Needless to say, when this was announced for DVD release, I was ready to leap at the chance of finally being able to own and watch the film – but, as many of you must already know, my joy (and that of many another fan, I'm sure) was short-lived when it emerged that Universal had issued a Pan-and-Scan version (which I can only imagine now how this ruined its detailed widescreen compositions)!; thankfully, I was able to make amends via the miraculous format called DivX...
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Forgotten High-Class Cautionary Tale
mercuryix-15 July 2008
It's interesting reading the comments of those who dislike this movie; they either call it "dated" and so disregard it, or "ludicrous" in that it could never happen; that way they don't have to take the concept seriously and so aren't threatened by it.

Well, History is dated. That's why it's history. And we learn history supposedly so that we won't repeat the mistakes of the past (I wonder if that's ever worked?).

Science Fiction, if done well, is like watching future history. Star Wars begins with "Long, Long Ago..." and yet the world it presented was thousands of years ahead of ours. Science Fiction's best use is often in producing cautionary tales so that "We Don't Go There", or at least make us think before we do. Yes, the idea of a computer taking over the world through control of nuclear technology is ludicrous; very ludicrous. Until it happens. Then it is already too late. That's the point of science fiction and other cautionary tales.

So Collosus is about a dated computer that becomes sentient and starts asserting ruthless control for what it sees as the "betterment of mankind". What does it matter if the technology is dated? Our technology will seem hopelessly dated 100 years from now. This movie is very much like Terry Gilliam's dark movie, "Brazil", in a strange way. Gilliam has said his movie was a cautionary tale, that the only escape from the world is in your imagination. Both movies make the same point: that if a certain process (government, or technological) is allowed to continue without safeguards, we will reach a point where there is no escape. The time of quaint tales of Robin Hood and other rebels has passed: No "rebel band" is going to stop it, no revolution is going to succeed, because the stranglehold granted by modern weapons is so pervasive we can't fight it without dying. So instead of relying on comicbook fantasies of "fighting the Power", we should make sure we never get to the point of no return. In this movie's case, the fatal error was trusting in technology to run itself, without understanding it or taking precautions to install safeguards of overriding its commands and shutting it down if necessary.

In our country, if our government suddenly decided to become a dictatorship, there would be no revolution or rebellion. Our little handguns and rifles aren't going to match cluster bombs, missiles and chemical weapons. We're at the mercy of our leaders, and the chance for rebellion by force in countries around the world (such as Zimbabwe) has past.

The cautionary tale that Collosus tells is very old, and considered dated and clichéd by many. And because of that, its lesson is lost on those too "clever" to learn from it. Let's hope these people too clever to learn from dated clichés don't come into positions governing things like Collosus.
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Is Colossus Skynet? (POSSIBLE SPOILER)
marshm20 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
With all deference to the comments of a previous reviewer (that Big Brother was a TV show, instead of one of the most influential novels of the 20th century), this movie is not about an all-knowing computer that runs every individual's personal life. In fact, the movie shows us that that granular level of control is not necessary. Colossus is a supercomputer designed for the defense of the country. The problem is that it is built so well, that it begins to make imaginative plans of its own. Shortly after activation, it discovers that another system, Guardian, has been built by the Soviets. In an effort toward scientific curiosity, the two countries allow for communication between the two systems. The systems combine and plot for the control of the planet. The plot leaves us, short story style, to imagine what takes place from here on. Several notable sci-fi buffs have suggested, and rightly so, that the story behind Colossus is eerily similar in concept to the story of Skynet in the Terminator series In fact, the story of the third movie would have been better served by following this script than the one used! This is a very underrated movie, asking many questions that are even more pertinent today.
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I wonder if a remake would be worthwhile
dalewisely12 January 2006
Like a previous reviewer, I saw this movie in theaters more than 30 years ago and not once since, and yet much of it I remember with amazing clarity. Eric Braeden is terrific--an understated and overlooked performance that should have made him a movie star.

It's a Frankenstein movie, of course, but the idea of technology getting away from us---well, anyone who thinks we're out of the woods in that area is fooling herself.

I wonder if a remake would be worthwhile. As is so often true of movies featuring computers, they are quickly outdated in terms of technology, and this can distract from the message of the film.
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A Modern Frankenstien
thinker16916 July 2006
In the unstable world of governments, there is nothing more frightening than the Doomday war. Generals and scientists alike predict that will be, World War Three. To that end, COLOSSUS, THE FORBIN PROJECT was created. The film encapsulates the drama which unfolds immediately upon the completion of an atomic powered computer. In essence, the greatest scientific minds of the world, headed by none other than Dr. Charles Forbin (Eric Braeden) have combined their considerable talents, to create the worlds' most advance machine which has but one purpose, To insure the Peaceful Co-Existence of the world's population. The film contains an extremely memorable line, spoken by Dr. Forbin which comes to haunt him. "Frankenstein, should be required reading of all scientists." With the considerable talents of Gordon Pinsent as The President of the United States, Leonid Rostoff as the Russian Premiere, Susan Clark as Dr. Cleo Markham and William Schallert as CIA Director Grauber, the dream of war weary officials to finally create the ultimate defense machine, comes true. What everyone forgot was the fact, a machine created to prevent war, could morph into an atomic tyrant. Given the power to destroy the planet and the peoples it was meant to safeguard, now threatens all with a maxim, "I was created to prevent war. I will not permit war even if I have to destroy mankind to do it." A terrifying prospect. The race begins between the monster and the creators to see which can out think the other to regain what was so recklessly given away. A Classic film in every sense of the word. ****
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Age of the Machine
hellraiser74 January 2016
One of the things I really love about the sci-fi genre is that they can make very effective cautionary/horror tales because despite presenting great possibilities they also show that there can be a flip side of the coin to them. To every decision there can also be dire consequences. This is an under the radar gem which I really like.

I really like the plot line, it was a film that was no doubt ahead of it's time, though watching the film now is sort of like seeing a relic from a time capsule.

In part of the 60's and 70's you have to realize computer technology and some of the concepts were starting to steadily rise, the fact that these things could pass and access info, let alone get certain things done quicker was amazing for it's time, despite the fact none to few of us had access to this tech at the time. A.I. was a foreign concept as well and seemed like something that seemed almost millions of miles away. But of course when the 80's and so on hit and we began to have access to Computers and Internet and all kinds of technology like Cell Phones, Survelence and Drones and has established A.I. the concept in this film is actually frighteningly placeable.

I do like the suspense, this film is sort of an espionage thriller, only here instead of a foreign power it is against the power of a machine. And unfortunately unlike enemy agents or organizations whom can make mistakes, this enemy doesn't make mistakes because it was built not do. Which in a way makes the conflict against Colosus extremely hard because it's literally almost like a war against God; as this cyber entity has access to all kinds of surveillance so it knows most to all of your moves and due to it's unlimited intelligence it's capable of anything to everything.

Eric Brayden is solid as Charles Forbin, to me this is probably the best role from the actor and sadly only really big role as he never really got to be on the silver screen again, which is sad because I really felt he had a lot of potential. His character is slightly sympathetic, despite the fact that he created or helped create the A.I. he did it for good intentions to help create peace. But as an old saying goes "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions" and both he and all of mankind have just taken one big step. I do like seeing some emotion on his face, despite keeping or trying to keep good composure he feels guilt knowing that instead of a great scientific achievement he made the greatest mistake of his life. So he tries to correct his mistake by trying to covertly sabotage his own creation.

Colosus is a very interesting villain and is to me one of my favorite fictional villains, and was no doubt a partial inspiration to Skynet from "The Terminator". But unlike Skynet and many more A.I. villains this A.I. system operates on a gray area, Colosus I don't feel is totally evil but it's not entirely good either, this cyber entity is based on cold logic, it carries out the necessary actions to produce the solutions to complex problems no matter the corrupt nature of those actions, they are necessary evils to get results. It's goal isn't to eradicate mankind but to unify it, in a way create a Utopia, but like with all Utopian concepts there is a price to pay.

I really love the voice that we hear near the end, Colosus sounds like one of the Cylons from the 70's TV show "Battlestar Galatica" and this film was 8 to 9 years before that show. But the voice fits perfectly as it has that cold caluating menacing tone to it. Most of the things Colsus says about mankind really give a cold chill and are a bit disheartening because it's sadly the truth.

I like the back and forth between both Forbin and Colosus, to me that's what really drives the film. It's sort of a verbal chess game, but unfortunately despite Forbin's great intelligence, playing chess with Colossus is impossible as Colossus is millions of moves ahead. But also in a way you could say it's also the age old motifs of father and son, mentor or student conflict as we see both old wisdom conflict against advanced intelligence.

Thought this film isn't perfect it has a couple of bugs in it's system that hold it back for me. The pacing is kinda slow, which is one of the reasons it takes a while for things to get going. Also it's not really that exciting, it just feels like the anty needed to be upped a little more, or a sticky situation or two needed to occur to keep things moving. But those are things I can get around.

The ending is to me one of the darkest one's I've seen which will haunt you, I won't say what it is but I leave it with these words "to one side came great triumph, but to another came great tragedy." The message of the film is simply, don't let technology rule your lives. Technological advance and the use of it is OK, as long as it's used wisely and it's sole purpose is as a tool and not the single solution to everything. But also about the danger of progress, just because we can do a thing, doesn't necessarily mean that we should.

I personally wouldn't mind a remake (a good one mind you, and from an film that old enough), and if they do may'be they can do it based on the whole trilogy of books, that would be an interesting sci-fi saga.

The numbers the machines computed may'be our last days.

Rating: 3 stars
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Colossus: Father of Skynet
Daryl_G_Morrissey2 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The film is based on the 1966 novel, Colossus: The Forbin Project, by British author Dennis Feltham Jones, and was released in 1970 with a screenplay by James Bridges (The Hitchcock Hour, The China Syndrome, White Hunter Black Heart, among others.)

It starred Eric Braeden as Dr. Charles Forbin, Susan Clark as Dr. Cleo Markham and Gordon Pinsent as The President.


Although the film begins slowly, and isn't your typical all-action movie, that people expect today, it still a suspenseful and unnerving film, which builds in intensity until one of the greatest climaxes in cinema history. The casting of the unknown Eric Braeden, in his first leading actor role, adds much to the power of the story. The acting is solid and the dialogue is concise, so that there is nothing said that didn't need saying. Eric Braeden is convincing as Dr. Forbin and it his story that we follow and it is his character that has the most depth. His struggle to believe that his creation has become more than he imagined, and his even bigger battle to try to defeat it, are what really makes the film that much more believable. Susan Clark gives subtleness to the character of Dr. Cleo Markham. A woman who is as intelligent as any of her male colleagues, if not smarter, but who also has the emotional aptitude to help Dr. Forbin, as his World begins to collapse around him. Gordon Pinsent portrayal of The President is very well executed. At the beginning of the film he is the supremely confident and affable Commander-in-Chief, but, as the story unfolds, he becomes far less controlled as his power to control anything is gradually taken from him. It is the relationship between these three that keeps the suspense building, to one of the greatest climaxes in movie history.

The 'voice' of Colossus is provided by Paul Frees, and it is this voice that although chilling, also has a certain intelligence and, possibly, emotion. There are many supporting characters, such as Dr. Kuprin, the creator of Guardian, played by Alex Rodine, who is ultimately betrayed by his own creation. C.I.A. Director Grauber is wonderfully played by William Schallert, who gives a performance that has now become synonymous with inept C.I.A. Directors.

When the film was released in 1970, Universal found that they had a surprise hit on their hands, as everyone clamoured to see it.

Many of the Artificial Intelligence / supercomputer films, that have been released in the last thirty years have borrowed, if not downright stolen, their ideas from what Colossus set out. Gene Roddenberry used the idea in the 1968 Star Trek episode, 'The Ultimate Computer', while James Cameron cites Colossus as his inspiration for Skynet, in his 1984 movie 'The Terminator'.
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'This is the Voice of World Control'
freyw2 June 2007
Colossus is the new defense supercomputer that is trying to take over the world, and Dr. Forbin is the man who created it, and now must stop it. The excitement in watching Forbin and Colossus go through move and counter-move is what carries this film, and the two are worthy adversaries to each other. It's thin on action for a science-fiction film; the action is more cerebral in nature as Forbin and Colossus grapple for control. Even while attempting to become the dictator of Earth, Colossus sometimes displays a sense of humor that is almost human, and a ruthlessness that is all too human. In the end, Colossus isn't your traditional bad guy. It was programmed to serve humanity, and it seeks to do that by saving humanity from itself. It sees the lives lost in the process as a necessary evil. The ending is not your traditional Hollywood ending either; I strongly suspect they were planning a sequel (The book this is based on was the first of a trilogy). The sets may seem a little dated, but the story is every bit as exciting as it was then, and given the developments in computer technology and artificial intelligence, even more relevant.
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Wow! This movie is brilliant. One of the 10 best sci fi's ever
tbyrne42 December 2007
I felt compelled to write about "Colossus: the Forbin Project" as it is still on my mind. I had a somewhat strange reaction to it. I can't remember the last time I was actually frightened by a film in the same way that I was frightened by this one. Typically, my fear response only kicks in when I see a potent image thrust at me quickly or when a movie uses unusual, eerie sounds to induce anxiety. Most films tend to frighten people by this primitive jack-in-the-box method.

But the fear "Colossus: the Forbin Project" gave me is the same fear I experienced after reading Orwell's "1984". It's the fear of being taken over. Of losing personal freedom. As the Colossus computer's demands and actions grow and become all-encompassing the audience's reactions seem to mirror the Forbin character's reactions. To watch him slowly crumble in the face of what he has created is frightening because he seems so implacable for most of the movie. We put our faith in him because he reacts to each twist in the plot with a knowing smile.

This is a film that gets under the skin in a big way. You have to think, after watching it: is this the way it happens? someone with good intentions doesn't realize the full extent of what he's created (whatever it may be) and it simply blossoms out of his control.

A disturbing and important film.
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A Real Gem
evilpete-123 August 2008
Why did I rate this as 9? This is not a movie that panders to the "and lived happily ever after" fairy tale mindset. This is about a grab for power by a powerful entity and the desperate efforts to prevent it. It is intelligent and surprising. Do not miss the last few minutes. This movie has a masterful sting in the tail. Excellent. First time I saw it I almost didn't believe how it ended.

The technology is antiquated, true. But the ideas are not. This is not an abstract creation like Skynet, this adversary talks to us and reasons. Not necessarily to kill us but for other purposes, but that doesn't mean it wont kill you. View for content and ideas not glitzy special effects, anyway I thought we were over that kind of science fiction these days.

Science fiction movies tend to be pale feeble imitations of science fiction novels. But Forbin is very satisfying. Fast paced, intelligent and surprising ... what more could you want? Pete
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