Westworld (1973)

Westworld (1973), written and directed by Michael Crichton.

The robot-staffed theme park of the future, where guests indulge in their every whim, mostly those of sex and violence. The guns in Western World have safety features that prevent the clients from shooting each other; I don't know what they do about swords in Roman World and Medieval World.

What could possibly go wrong?

This is pretty low-intensity excitement, picking up only in the last half hour. It could have been tightened up. What was with the big comical bar room fight? What purpose did that serve? [Later: well, obviously the paying guests wanted it].

Yul Brynner is fine as the Gunslinger, getting a lot out of the impassive (but strangely yearning) implacable robot killer.

Crichton anticipates his own Jurassic Park here, not just the park but the hubris of its operators and breakdown of the system. It's also an early prelude to Terminator (1984) and the recent virtual reality stories where we struggle to distinguish between simulation and reality, as well as the ethical trauma of mixing real and synthetic humans, as in the recent Battlestar Galactica.

The clients who go to Delos are portrayed as an unappealing lot. People play games for a lot of reasons, but the message is that those who try to fool themselves into believing they are people different than they really are...well, that's an unattractive aspect of human nature.

Available on Blu-ray.

http://watershade.net/public/westworld.jpg http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1d/Westworld_ver2.jpg