The Day the World Changed Hands
The Forbin Project
Uncertainties and fears about technological progression and the role of science in modernity has long been a preoccupation of science-fiction and horror narratives. In the 1970’s these ‘Revolt of Technology’ tales reached a higher level of visibility thanks chiefly to the neurotic machinations of HAL 9000 aboard the space station Discovery in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Although Kubrick pushed the boundaries of cinematic form and spectacle, the strongest sensation within his film was a deep pessimism and paranoia about mankind’s relationship to sentient technology. This was adapted perfectly to the 1970’s and became the clinical and logical flip side to the primal and instinctual ‘Revolt of Nature’ films which were also achieving prominence. Both of these sub-strata of horror and science-fiction were informed by the pervasive atmosphere of paranoia which smothered much of American production post Watergate. The fault often lay with venerated institutions - the military, scientific research, the government and even the media. The resolutions were often unsatisfactory and closure never fully achieved. The first major production to absorb the thematic impetus of 2001 was Universal Pictures’ Colossus: The Forbin Project. Interestingly the source material - a novel called Colossus by British sci-fi writer D. F. Jones pre-dated 2001 and appeared in 1966, and was the first part of a trilogy. The remaining two books remain unrealised by cinema, which on the strength of this film is something of a shame.