westworld

In the early 1970’s there were a number of sci-fi films made that predicted a dystopian and bleak view of our very near future. A Clockwork Orange and the slightly later Logan’s Run spring to mind. Westworld offered a more optimistic view, albeit taking an inevitable downbeat turn as is common with films of the period.

A future theme park exists where all your dreams can come true courtesy of the robotic inhabitants, programmed to service your every need. Two holidaymakers (Richard Benjamin and James Brolin), have come to experience the wild west in the Westworld part of the complex. A gunslinger (Yul Brynner in his iconic Magnificent 7 guise) is on hand to challenge guests to gunfights (obviously losing every time). But when there is a malfunction, the robots turn deadly and start killing the guests.

It is a great story which has been mimicked many times but was wholly original at the time. Written and directed by Michael Crichton, the film is perfectly paced and becomes very tense towards the end when Yul Brynner’s relentless gunslinger hunts down the last surviving guest. It is in this climax that the seeds for The Terminator were clearly sown and Arnold Schwarzenegger owes a debt of gratitude to Brynner in his last great performance.

 

Best performance: Yul Brynner in a sinister spin on his Magnificent Seven character.
Best scene: Yul having a meltdown!
Watch this if you liked: The Terminator.

Michael Crichton would revisit many of the same themes from Westworld in a little story he wrote over 20 years later called Jurassic Park.


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