Android

Androids… automatons that are created from biological materials and resemble humans…from Fritz Land’s 1927 classic Metropolis to Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece Blade Runner, the notion of artificial life becoming more human than human has long been an interesting and somewhat neglected aspect of science fiction genre within film (personally, I think the main interest in this type of technology is put forth by men wanting to create their ideal woman and perform whatever sick, twisted desires lie within their perverted, depraved souls…I mean a woman who will do whatever you want, whenever you want and not complain about you leaving the toilet seat up? Free will is certainly a wonderful thing, but it shouldn’t get in the way of having a good time).

Android (1983), directed by Aaron Lipstadt, whose primary work afterwards has been on TV shows like Miami Vice, The Equalizer, and Quantum Leap to name a few, stars the talented, but entirely creepy and obtusely intense Klaus Kinksi (Crawlspace) along with Brie Howard (Tapeheads), Norbert Weisser (Midnight Express), Crofton Hardester (The Devastators), and Don Keith Opper (Critters) as Max 404. Not only did Don have a starring role in the film, but he also wrote it… The film mainly takes place on a fairly deserted deep space research station, once bustling with life, but now home only to Dr. Daniel (Kinski) and his android companion/man servant Max 404. Dr. Daniel has been feverishly working on a new prototype droid, one much more advanced than Max (all this work is done in secret out in space as due to a past incident on Earth involving rebellious androids and the killing of many humans, androids have been outlawed…at least that’s the gist of what I got). Anyway, life is pretty quite on the station, and Max is growing bored. That soon changes as three escaped convicts, hijacking a prison shuttle ship, seek refuge on board the station due to a damaged engine. Dr, Daniel sees this as a prime opportunity as he’s been needing a compatible female (no, no…not what you’re thinking…) to use in some weird way to juice up his newest android, one with female characteristics..some sort of biological jumpstart…and one of the three escaped prisoners just happens to fit the bill. Max, who just recently learned of some disturbing news regarding his own future, decides to try and see if, once the they get the engine to the damaged shuttle craft fixed, the escapees will allow him to tag along to Earth, but they have other plans, and given that they are convicted criminals, you can imagine they involve something less than of an altruistic nature. There’s a certain pathos to Max, one of a being forced into existence, now trying to find his place in a society that sees him as less than what he is…

I have to say, this film pleasantly surprised me, as it was better than I thought. I really enjoyed the acting throughout, especially that of Opper. He presents a wonderfully naïve character, one with limited human contact, very awkward, but eager to learn and please. His efforts to develop human characteristics come out in interesting and quirky ways, much like that of a child trying to emulate what he observes through interaction with his elders. Oppers naturally buck teeth seemed in opposition to that of a created being, as such apparent physical aspects wouldn’t seem to be something one would incorporate into a constructed being, but then that’s just my own opinion. Opper does a great job making the audience believe he is what he’s supposed to be, an awkward, clumsy, sometimes shy artificial man. Kinski’s role seemed less than I thought it would be, as his character seemed secondary to the rest, especially since he seems to be used a lot in the promotion of the film. He is the biggest name in the production, so obviously the makers of the film wanted to capitalize on that, even though his part was somewhat small. I will say he seemed awfully creepy (some would say eccentric, but to me, I would call it creepy perverted), especially when working with his new female construct (“She vill be Ad perfect voman!”) and his voyeuristic tendencies, but then just about any film I’ve seen him in, he seems to exude a sort of European creep/sleaze factor, one akin to a Jess Franco film…maybe it’s those bug eyes and his lack of blinking. At first his character seemed to pursue his work with purely scientific goals in mind, but then that changed later on, becoming a bit freaky. The sets are decent, for the time, and look like sets and props used in the television show Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century (1979), starring Gil Gerald. The film had an early 80’s feel, the sets, the music, etc., with a late 70’s sensibility, the sexual aspects, the brief nudity, etc. I liked the little bits of humor, along with a smattering of originality, as it seemed to ‘humanize’ the film, stretching it beyond just a standard science fiction type thriller to something more. Does it work? For the most part…it’s an odd, multi-faceted story, simple, yet complex within the characters and their motivations. And in the middle of it all is Max, with the pure and simple desire to exist and become much more than human.