Film Preview: Colossus – The Forbin Project, 19 October, Filmhouse, Edinburgh

18 Oct

Tomorrow night at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh there’s a rare showing of 1970 sci-fi chiller Colossus: The Forbin Project from 6pm.

The film depicts a time when the United States decides to build a giant supercomputer called Colossus to look after all military decisions for the Western world.

Colossus will sense any possible attacks on America and take the best course of action, a foolproof plan designed by genius scientist Dr Forbin (Eric Braeden).

Of course when those pesky Russkies reveal they have their own version of the computer, and then problems arise with Colussus, it’s up to Forbin and his team to try to resolve the problem swiftly.

Quite by coincidence I watched the film on DVD over the weekend and enjoyed its faintly ridiculous plot and semi-serious tone.

It’s clear the film’s makers were trying to make an intelligent drama about humanity’s reliance on technology. This aim is slightly derailed when we’re told within the opening moments that nothing can go wrong when we of course know it will.

Still, as with any disaster movie, half the fun is in the waiting for things to unravel and director Joseph Sargent (The Taking of Pelham One Two Three) does well drawing out the tension.

It’s also very much a film of its time, when the Cold War put nuclear weapons very much in the minds of the public, so I shouldn’t be too hard on it.

Before the film, Henry S Thompson from Edinburgh University’s School of Informatics will present a talk about the state of artificial intelligence and discuss what it means for a computer to be intelligent.

Visit the Filmhouse website for booking details.

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