The 1973 film of the same name, based off of the Michael Crichton book, also of the same name, was and is, something of a classic in the sci-fi genre. The precursor to Jurassic Park, ‘Westworld’ is about an adult theme park in which you could live out fantasies in either, West world, Medieval world or Roman world. Like Jurassic Park, books for both films were written by Crichton, the robots that are programmed to be characters in each ‘world’ begin to run amok.
Inspiring the famous ‘The Simpsons’ episode where they go to Itchy and Scratchy land, only to have a similar thing happen, Westworld slowly builds suspense over the course of the film, showing the behind the scenes at each ‘world’ until it all goes to hell at the end.
The film is highly entertaining, primarily because of its central conceit which really struck home with me when I was younger. Now HBO, the giant broadcasting company behind some of TVs most successful programs is bringing us a new version of the story, in a weekly TV show. I think this is a fantastic idea, the slow burn story telling employed by this format will prove just as an interesting fit as a film, and by updating it for a modern audience a whole new subtext can be given that wasn’t there 40 years ago.
The film does look a tad outdated now, for such a technology based story, it hasn’t aged well and its a surprise the film hasn’t been remade yet. There was a poor sequel in 1976 called ‘Futureworld’ but that was a failure compared to its predecessor. Now the first teaser footage for the series has been released and it looks promising. Created by Jonathan Nolan, brother of acclaimed writer/director Christopher Nolan, and with a fantastic cast of big hitters, it looks like this show is shaping up to be great.
What’s evident in all promotional material and word so far on the show, is that it seems very influenced by a number of other sci-fi classics, namely Blade Runner, or the short story it was based off ‘Do androids dream of electric sheep’ by Philip K. Dick. They seem to be taking a very existential bent on this version of the story, very in keeping with the philosophical robot trend of recent years, evident in films like Ex Machina or shows like Humans.
This is an intriguing way to take it, and one that will presumably keep the story going, where the film was very terminator like in execution. Other than this the visuals look fantastic, the pilot is directed by Jonathan Nolan himself and therefore has a touch of his brothers visual flare, even looking a bit like The Shining in some shots.
Altogether I’m excited, Westworld isn’t a film that is particularly considered holy, so a smart, stylish show would very much be the best course for its legacy. I can’t wait.