100 Years of AI – II

Let’s explore films from the 70s that perfectly encapsulate the raw power and thought-provoking nature of this world-changing technological breakthrough. 

Part I explored films crafted from the 30s to the 60s. Part II explores films made during the 70s. Part III takes a look at the 80s and 90s, Part IV looks at feature films from the years 2000 to 2010, Part V explores films from the years 2011 to 2017, and Part VI looks at films from 2018 / 2019, Part VII takes a look at films from 2020 to the present.

Colossus: The Forbin Project (The Forbin Project) 1970

This 1970 science-fiction thriller film from Universal Pictures, produced by Stanley Chase, and directed by Joseph Sargent, is based upon the 1966 science-fiction novel Colossus by Dennis Feltham Jones.

It deals with an advanced American defense system, named Colossus, becoming sentient. After being handed full control, Colossus’ draconian logic expands on its original nuclear defense directives to assume total control of the world and end all warfare for the good of humankind, despite its creators’ orders to stop.

Paper Man – 1971

A television film transmitted as one of the Friday Night Movies which CBS-TV was then including in its prime-time programming. It also had a brief theatrical run with a longer version. It was directed by Walter Grauman, and dramatized for television by James D. Buchanan and Ronald Austin, both of whom were working from a story written by Anthony Wilson. Four college students take advantage of a credit card mistakenly issued to someone who does not exist by using their university’s computer to counterfeit an entire identity and erase the charges they run up on it – done by Avery a computer wiz to fix everything for them. None of them count on the computer seeming to have some ideas of its own, or on it commencing to murder them.

Silent Running – 1972

An American environmental-themed science fiction film. In a future where all flora is extinct on Earth, an astronaut is given orders to destroy the last of Earth’s botany, kept in a greenhouse aboard a spacecraft. Alone on the craft with his only companions being three small robots, Lowell revels in the joys of nature. Enlisting the aid of the ship’s three service robots, Lowell stages a fake premature explosion as a ruse and sends the Valley Forge careening toward Saturn in an attempt to hijack the ship and flee with the last forest dome. He then reprograms the drones to perform surgery on his leg and sets the Valley Forge on a risky course through Saturn’s rings.

The most fun version of Westworld is Michael Crichton’s original 1973 movie. A robot cowboy comes to life and goes nuts in a theme park. Written and directed by Michael Crichton. The film follows adult guests visiting an interactive amusement park containing lifelike androids that unexpectedly begin to malfunction. The film stars Yul Brynner as an android in the amusement park.

The Westworld TV series is a dystopian science fiction series created by by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy that first aired on October 2, 2016, on HBO. It is based upon the 1973 film of the same name written and directed by Michael Crichton and loosely upon its 1976 sequel, Futureworld.

The Questor Tapes -1974

American made-for-television sci-fi drama film about an android with incomplete memory tapes who is searching for his creator and his purpose. Conceived by Gene Roddenberry, who is credited as an executive consultant, the script is credited to Roddenberry and fellow Star Trek alumnus Gene L. Coon. A novelization, written by D. C. Fontana (another Star Trek alumnus), was dedicated to Coon, who died before the program was broadcast.

Dark Star (1974)

A science fiction comedy film directed and produced by John Carpenter and co-written with Dan O’Bannon. It follows the crew of the deteriorating starship Dark Star, twenty years into their mission to destroy unstable planets that might threaten the future colonization of other planets. In the mid-22nd century, mankind has begun to colonize interstellar space. Armed with artificially intelligent Thermostellar Triggering Devices, which can talk and reason, the scout ship Dark Star searches for “unstable planets” that might threaten future colonization.

The Stepford Wives (1975)

This psychological thriller is based on the novel of the same name by Ira Levin. The story centers around a photographer and newly arrived resident in the idyllic town of Stepford. They soon discover that the women of Stepford are inexplicably perfect, submissive, and focused solely on domestic duties. As she investigates further, she uncovers a disturbing secret: the women of Stepford have been replaced with lifelike robotic replicas created by their husbands to fulfill their idealized visions of the perfect wife.

Demon Seed (1977)

Meet Proteus IV, an AI program. The film was based on the 1973 novel of the same name by Dean Koontz, and concerns the imprisonment and forced impregnation of a woman by an artificially intelligent computer.

Star Wars (1977- present)

American epic space opera multimedia franchise was created by George Lucas, which began with the eponymous 1977 film and quickly became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon. The franchise has been expanded into various films and other media, including television series, video games, novels, comic books, theme park attractions, and themed areas, comprising an all-encompassing fictional universe. Star Wars is one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time.

The Star Wars franchise depicts the adventures of characters “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”, in which humans and many species of aliens (often humanoid) co-exist with robots (typically referred to in the films as ‘droids’), who may assist them in their daily routines; space travel between planets is common due to lightspeed hyperspace.

The 1977 Star Wars introduced C-3PO, a protocol droid, and R2-D2, an astromech droid, with humanlike personalities capable of emotions, communication, and expressing opinions.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Directed by Robert Wise and based on the television series Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry in 1964, the screenplay was written by Harold Livingston from a story by Alan Dean Foster and is the first installment in the Star Trek film series. The story is set in the 2270s, when a mysterious and immensely powerful alien cloud known as V’Ger approaches Earth, destroying everything in its path. Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) assumes command of the recently refitted Starship USS Enterprise, to lead it on a mission to save the planet and determine V’Ger’s origins.  V’Ger’s a robotic replica that studies the “carbon units” on the ship.

Alien (1979)

Directed by Ridley Scott and written by Dan O’Bannon, this sci-fi-horror is based on a story by O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, It follows the crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo, who, after coming across a mysterious derelict spaceship on an uncharted planetoid, find themselves up against an aggressive and deadly extraterrestrial set loose on the Nostromo

The success of Alien spawned a media franchise of films, novels, comic books, video games, and toys. It also launched Weaver’s acting career, providing her with her first lead role. The story of her character’s encounters with the alien creatures became the thematic and narrative core of the sequels Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992), and Alien Resurrection (1997). A crossover with the Predator franchise produced the Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007). A prequel series includes Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017), both directed by Scott.