Monday, September 28, 2009

Classic Scifi Movie: Colossus: The Forbin Project

Charles  Forbin  is the  designer of a secret government computer.  Colossus is a gigantic  supercomputer that controls all of the United States nuclear missile systems. Colossus like todays internet is designed to be impervious to attack.  Like the WOPR from Wargames it is  encased within a mountain (Norad) and powered by its own nuclear power plant.

Colossus' first announcement is that the Russians have their own super computer called  "Guardian", that controls Soviet nuclear weapons.

The computers order that Forbin provide a link between the two computers.  When the link is established the two computers begin developing a common language allowing them to communicate.   When national leaders get upset by the joint communication between the computers and disconnect them Colossus gives a warning the if the connection is not reestablished they will take action on their creators.  Colossus Fires a Missile at a Russian oil field forcing the reconnection of the two computers who rename themselves Unity.

Unity then begins to cosolidate its world power and create a world of peace and love.The humans try fighting back and fail.  In the end Unity promises that people will grow to love its new computerized leader and forbin replys "Never!".

I first saw this film in 1984 or 85 in a little room on the back of my parent house on my VCR and a black and white tv.   When the movie went off I went and disconnected my commador Vic 20 and slid it under my bed.  It stayed there until I wanted to play space invaders again.  This time I am watching it on my laptop setting next to my 5 desktops and I again have the feeling I should take my computers lose and hide them under my bed. I won't of course or Id never get this post written.

Colossus is one of those movies you watch and a week lader your passing by a computer with a camera and you wonder if its realy watching you, if it has a neipherous plan, and if you might not be better moving in with the Amish.

The acting is slightly wooden and you can sometimes tell the writter, actors, and directors don't have a clue about the technology they are "using" in the movie.   This movie is really the Grandfather of WOPR from WarGames, and many of the same themes are in both movies.  While both movies are a cautionary tale about the use of Artificial intelligence in the military, the main difference is that WarGames ends with the humans averting war and recovering control to the computer.  In Colossus Unity ends with all the pieces on his board and doesn't want to play a nice game of chess.

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