Fwd: FC: The top 12 most Luddite films of all time

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From: Karee Swift (karee@tstonramp.com)
Date: Mon Dec 11 2000 - 14:17:51 PST

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>Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000 10:40:51 -0500
>From: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
>To: politech@politechbot.com
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>Subject: FC: The top 12 most Luddite films of all time
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>From: jtmcc@uswest.net
>Subject: Top 12 Most Luddite Films Named...
>Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000 05:34:39 -0700
>Niche marketing's worst case
>Contact: Jerry McCarthy
>Top 12 Most Luddite Films of All Time Named
>(Denver, Colorado; December 15) What is the most luddite film of all
>time? The top 12? Maybe these questions have never come up, but here
>are the answers anyway. The Luddite Reader website today announces the
>Luddite Top 12. The most luddite film of all time is Godard's
>Alphaville (1965), the only film in which the central character
>actually says, "Technology, hah! Keep it!" Alphaville also features
>the most luddite character name of all time: Lemmy Caution, a
>comic-bookish detective played by the durable, somewhat eroded Eddie
>Constantine. And the top twelve films? They are:
>1. Alphaville (Godard, 1965)
>2. Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1926)
>3. Tie: A Nous La Liberte (Rene Clair, 1931) and Modern Times (Charlie
>Chaplin, 1936)
>4. Tie: Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931) and Young Frankenstein
>5. Fahrenheit 451 (Francois Truffaut, 1965)
>6. Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)
>7. Terminator (James Cameron, 1984)
>8. The Gods Must Be Crazy (Jamie Uys, 1984)
>9. Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985)
>10. Robocop (Paul Verhoeven, 1987)
>11. They Live (John Carpenter, 1988)
>12. Gattaca (Andrew M. Niccol, 1997)
>Why 12 and not 10? Well, our favorites couldn't all fit in 10. In
>fact, we left one very important film out, so here's an additional
>Missed congeniality: Jonah Who Will Be 25 In The Year 2000 (Alaine
>Tanner, 1976) That's fifteen, if you are counting.
>Some of these have been sequelled, of varying degrees of quality
>(Terminator, The Gods Must Be Crazy, and Robocop, and the champion
>property of all time: Frankenstein, produced in 80+ varieties, including
>Frankenpooh and Frankenweenie, a Disney dog) and knocked off by cheap
>imitations. Another Terminator is assuredly in the works and a Mel
>Gibson remake of Fahrenheit 451 has long been rumored, but the rest of
>the list is fairly safe from remake, or is it? Imagine Bruce Willis as
>Lemmy Caution in Alphaville2: Die Hard Disk; a Tim Burton / Madonna
>Metropolis; or Jim Carrey in Modern Times. Worse things have happened
>to better people.
>But why these fifteen twelve great films? Here's why:
>#1 Alphaville (Godard, 1965) - The only luddish film in which the
>protagonist actually says, "Technology, hah! -- keep it!" Lemmy Caution
>(Eddie Constantine) establishes the archetype of the Luddite detective
>(spy/assassin; agent 003) in this wordy classic that critic Carlos
>Clarens called "Science Poetry." In another galaxy (a Ford Galaxy, if
>you must know) Caution enters Alphaville, a technocracy ruled by the
>Alpha-60 computer, to retrieve or kill its creator, a Dr. Nosferatu
>(formerly Dr. von Braun). Clarens described the Alpha-60 this way: "a
>giant electronic computer that processes, classifies, and programs the
>life data of its residents. This control has brought about a cult of
>absolute logical behavior and those who do not conform to it (i.e.,
>those who show some emotion) are ruthlessly destroyed by execution
>during staged acquacades, or by submitting to the persuasion to commit
>suicide. To abet this law and order of the machine, words are kept in
>place by changing meaning, some being suppressed altogether while new
>editions of the bible/dictionary are issued daily." Caution kills
>Nosferatu, causes Alpha-60 to autodestruct by feeding it poetry, and
>rescues Nosferatu's daughteer (Mrs. Godard). It's a film both
>pretentious and funny, more amusing to talk about afterward than it is
>to watch.
>#2 Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1926) The film that established the beauty of
>robots as well as the question of who can remain (and know they are
>assuredly) "real" in a culture which is replacing humans with machines.
>It's all here: dehumanization of work; polarization of society;
>unionism; marianism; robotics; and art direction that has influenced
>science fiction films ever since.
>#3 Tie: A Nous La Liberte (Rene Clair, 1931) and Modern Times (Charlie
>Chaplin, 1936) - Two benchmark films about working in factories. A Nous
>is the original, depicting the boss as a thief (literally), fascist
>factories, and the prison-like tyranny of factory worklife. Chaplin
>lifted this concept for the most memorable bits in his last tramp film,
>Modern Times, which played on the haplessness of the factory worker as
>demonstrated by the Tramp. Chaplin comments on the Taylorism movement
>for worker efficiency in both the speedy assembly line scene and the
>automatic worker feeding machine scene. Of the two films, Modern Times
>has become more emblematic, perhaps because stills of Charlie caught in
>the gears of a giant machine have become one of luddism's most widely
>seen icons.
>#4 Tie: Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931) and Young Frankenstein - The
>original Frankenstein has become a genre unto itself. "It's alive!" It
>is the Ur-film [after Metropolis] of modern mad science. It remains the
>prime example of the message that things you make may turn on you. It
>is also, with Metropolis, one of a only a few examples of the
>expressionist theatrical style on film. No other film has ever spawned
>as many derivative descendents, including such screen gems as "Jesse
>James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter" (1966). Mel Brook's Young
>Frankenstein used the original props and has one genuinely remarkable
>scene which pokes fun at the marketing of the acceptability of science
>and technology: Dr. Vicktor Frankenstein puts on a show with his monster
>and they sing and dance a duet of "Putting On The Ritz." The
>townspeople are not fooled. What monsters are we creating?
>#5 Fahrenheit 451 (Francois Truffaut, 1965) In the future, most people
>live in fireproof houses and the job of firemen is to burn books for the
>state, to protect the populace from ideas that might make them unhappy.
>Fahrenheit 451 is Ray Bradbury's parable of how technology destroys
>heritage and self-knowledge, and how television anesthetizes the
>populace. The underlying message of this film is that you don't have to
>physically burn books (the title refers to the temperature at which
>paper burns) to "burn" books. It is also the canonical film about
>censorship. The book is probably the most widely assigned luddite text
>in US high schools. This is probably the most likely luddite film to be
>remade, although it will be difficult to find someone who does angst
>better than the late Oskar Werner.
>#6 Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) If we can make real-looking
>androids, how can we be sure who is real, or even if we ourselves are
>real? And if we can create an android (replicants, they are called
>here) that looks like Daryl Hannah, why can't we make future Los Angeles
>look like someplace you might want to live? Most importantly: if we
>create a near-human consciousness, what rights do we endow it with?
>This film is Phillip K. Dick (from his novel "Do Androids Dream of
>Electronic Sheep") made technoir through the Hollywood blender.
>Important as much for its art direction as for its message.
>#7 Terminator (James Cameron, 1984) As if you didn't have enough to
>worry about... The evil future is sending cyborgs back to crush the
>prenatal spark of humanity [by killing the not-yet-pregnant mother-to-be
>of a hero of the future (the leader of the rebel forces, no less) who
>hasn't been born yet - got that?]. Arnold Schwartzenegger gives the
>performance he was born to play: a cyborg who says, flatly, "I'll be
>Baaaaack!" And keeps his promise. Message: in the future, when
>machines get the upper hand, we become the cockroaches.
>#8 The Gods Must Be Crazy (Jamie Uys, 1984) Our trash is still pretty
>advanced technology in much of the world. This film is the apotheosis of
>the returnable bottle. A noble savage encounters less than noble
>civilized folks on his way to the edge of the earth to dispose of some
>disruptive technology, a soda bottle thrown out of an airplane and into
>the desert habitat of his tribe. The message? Don't assume that our
>technology is good for everybody. Currently inexcusably out of print.
>#9 Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985) In the future, the machine that will
>be most dangerous will continue to be the bureaucracy. In a bureaucracy
>no one admits to hearing you scream. Brazil presents a bleak dystopian
>future where a literal (smashed) bug causes the
>film's hero big trouble. Robert DeNiro plays the kind of handyman that
>we are all going to need in the future.
>#10 Robocop (Paul Verhoeven, 1987) Luddite paranoia on film: the threat
>of high-tech outsourcing. You say your job is killing you? This is
>worse. Your job has killed you, and you come back as a cyborg owned by
>the evil outsourcing company that made your job hell in the first place,
>and you are tormented by UHF reception problems in your memories of your
>former family. A really well done satire of cold-blooded corporate R&D
>run amok, comic book heros, and action films.
>#11 They Live (John Carpenter, 1988) Ever get that feeling, at about 10
>in the morning, that maybe the world is run by a bunch of ugly aliens in
>some kind of Amway scheme, and that they are keeping you compliant with
>subliminal messages everywhere such as "consume," "Don't question
>authority," and "sleep," that you could see if only you had these
>special sunglasses? Beyond luddite paranoia and into the bounds of
>schizophrenia, this is the primo educational film about subliminal
>messaging and may even be Noam Chomsky's favorite science fiction film.
>#12 Gattaca (Andrew M. Niccol, 1997) The database as enemy. If your
>company has a DNA code instead of a dress code, "casual friday" can be
>murder. Great technoir film about the future uses of genotyping. In
>the future, faking your resume to get a great job may include faking
>your DNA. Interesting and gross title sequence (once you understand what
>you are seeing). Gore Vidal as the hero's boss (!) "Jerome," the
>hero, wants to fly in space, with the Gattaca Corporation. But he is
>naturally conceived and born, not genetically engineered to be perfect,
>as Gattaca requires all employees to be. So he can clean the toilets
>with Ernest Borgnine (Marty!) or find some way to fake his way in. A
>murder investigation complicates it all. Set in Frank Lloyd Wright's
>last design, completed posthumously, the Marin Civic Center. Medical
>histories and treatment databases already limit employment for many
>(cancer survivors particularly). This film provides an extreme example
>of how the uses of such knowledge might become, ab ovo, even more
>controlling in the future.
>More: And now, our missed congeniality selection: Jonah Who Will Be 25
>In The Year 2000 (Alaine Tanner, 1976) This is the best film ever made
>about people resisting development (and about the failure of
>resistance). Luddism is really not about machines, it is about
>considering humanity and community before technology and development,
>without measure against the holy standards of profit and efficiency and
>markets. This film is about a group of people who gather on a farm and
>resist local developers. It has one scene that is unique in the history
>of film and that will never be equaled in Hollywood: the characters
>gather around a dinner table and sing a song to the unborn child Jonah,
>in the hope of his future. Since this film has been made their hopes
>seem to have been misplaced, and at least one reviewer has speculated
>that Jonah has become an MBA.
>There are informative websites for several of the top 12 Luddite films:
>Modern Times
>Fahrenheit 451
>Blade Runner
>Gods Must Be Crazy
>They Live
>The Luddite Reader continues to track luddite films, books, and music,
>along with news and luddish content links, at its luddsite:
>http://www.ludditereader.com. Updated twice monthly, The Luddite Reader
>regularly features a book, film, musical selection, and a recommended
>link for luddish interests. The Luddite Reader is the website for the
>technology dysphoric, phobic, paranoiac, and the merely cranky. It
>features selected books , films, music, and other resources for folks
>who would like to turn their backs on technology, if only they could be
>sure that it would not sneak up on them so.
>-- end --
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