The computer running amok in SF film is a natural extension of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel in which the creator is challenged by what is in essence a mirror image of himself (explicitly depicted as such in the initial cinematic outing, J. Searle Dawley’s 1910 “Frankenstein”, but significantly absent ever since), with circuits and semiconductors a contemporary replacement for the patchwork of stolen body parts, though a central thematic undercurrent of the eternal struggle of father and child (carried to superhuman proportions as the creature regards himself to creator Victor Frankenstein as “the Adam of your labors”) is retained from both Shelley’s novel and that of D.F. Jones, whose own 1967 work Colossus provides the source for Joseph Sargent’s problematic but interesting 1970 filmization, “Colossus: The Forbin Project”.
The film is a simultaneous rejection of the problems of the source novel (the first of a trilogy, to be followed by “Colossus and the Crab” and “The Fall of Colossus”), cleaning up the unsavory portraits of squalid political histrionics (one central Presidential assistant actually dies of fright) and softens the rather sterile nature of the Colossus development team, with the glaring exception of one scientist who literally goes insane who screenwriter James Bridges wisely omits, though this process also homogenizes the supporting characters into an indistinguishable bland mass that excludes such important details as a Soviet informer amid the Colossus development team whose leaking of information leads directly to the conflict of the story; hinted at in the film and then forgotten. Still, when a film is about a battle between Man and Machine, it’s certainly profits the story to not minimize the humanness of the former, while the infinite calculative capabilities of the latter proffers infinitesimal opportunities for retaliative action by the subjugated humans.
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