Release date: 7 September 2011 (Venice); 28 October 2011 (Spain)
Director: Kike Maíllo
Producer: Sergi Casamitjana, Francesc Olivares, Jérôme Rougier, Aintza Serra & Eric Tavitian.
Writer: Sergi Belbel, Cristina Clemente, Martí Roca & Aintza Serra Starring: Daniel Brühl, Marta Etura, Lluís Homar & Alberto Ammann
Production company: Escándalo Films S.L.; Ran Entertainment; & Saga-Productions.
Science fiction is a medium that opens itself up to a meaningful dialogue with critical questions about our past, current and possible worlds. It creates worlds that can be ‘as strange as possible (with equally strange creatures inhabiting it), or one like ours – except for one vital difference’ (May, 1998). These contemporary narratives highlight what Lelia Green calls ‘the widespread fascination with the interface of biology and technology, and the potential for fusion between the two.’ It is in these types of stories that society explores the boundaries of what it means to be human and tries to distil the essence of humanness. Questions about how to live and how to be human are addressed, as well as the hopes and fears of people who are increasingly dependent on technology and the cultures it creates. There is, she asserts, almost an enthrallment with the question of how much technology compromises the essentially human (Green, 2002).
EVA is a film that falls into May’s second category, and one where the essence of humaness is explored. It is a world which is like ours except for one difference: the ubiquity of robots. Set in mid-winter, this Spanish film explores human relationships using the development of a robot child as the centre around which the three main characters orbit. It’s less about the technology, though there are some nice moments with that (I liked the robot cat and the interactions with the ‘butler’ robot), and more about how we live with decisions made in the past, our hearts, and our own human strengths and frailties.
The pace of the film is fairly slow, which suits the material well, particularly when coupled with the slow, winter setting. The dialogue is in Spanish, with English subtitles, though the location didn’t strike me as stereotypically Spanish, something which helps, I think, with the sense of dislocation that is present.
Overall, a film for a rainy Sunday afternoon, which is good at drawing out some important ways the technology shapes human relationships, as well as how human relationship and nature transcends technology.
- Green, Lelia, Technoculture: From Alphabet to Cybersex. Crowsnest, NSW: Allen and Unwin, 2002.
- May, Stephen. Stardust and Ashes: Science Fiction in Christian Perspective. London: SPCK, 1998.
- IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1298554/
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automata_(film)
- Rotten Tomatoes: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/automata/
- Mighty Ape (NZ): https://www.mightyape.co.nz/product/Automata-DVD/22993228