Technology dependence and the migration of human activity to screens and digital databases are not new themes or topics in film, but this spring, Transcendence may be taking the general idea to a new level.
Typically, themes that revolve around technology dependence choose a particular niche or technological development to focus on. Consider the following examples in recent films:
- In 2010, The Social Network became the first high-profile film to solely on social media. In that case, of course, it was all about the creation of Facebook. The film itself was more about the specific events leading up to the creation of Facebook, but the underlying idea of just how quickly a program designed to streamline communication on the Internet gathered the worldwide attention of millions is inescapable.
- In 2013, Runner Runner took on the idea of virtual casinos, which is really a pretty telling industry. Using the Betfair Poker site as an example, at any given moment one might log online and find upwards of 4,000 people playing in live tournaments. That’s without considering video poker and arcade players—and it’s only on a single site! Runner Runner examines the massive business behind these online casino sites, and throws in a bit of fictional drama along the way. But one message is clear: millions of people would rather play poker online than at actual casinos.
- Even more recently, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty took on the idea of online dating – and through it, virtual dependence on the whole – by chronicling the weird adventure of a man looking to enrich his life. Initially focused on connecting with a woman who works in his own office through the eHarmony Internet dating site, Walter Mitty ultimately finds more success engaging her, and his own life, in person.
These are all prominent examples from recent years, but again, 2014’s Transcendence may be upping the ante on technology independence. Here’s the basic synopsis, as noted at Movie Insider:
Essentially, the film follows Will Caster (Johnny Depp), a scientific researcher enamored with the idea of creating total, real, artificial intelligence. He is a controversial figure whose idea is to combine an online database of knowledge from throughout history with human emotion. And ultimately, as friends and adversaries alike try to slow down his efforts, Caster ends up merging his own consciousness with a computer system. Talk about a metaphor for human dependence on the Internet.
Regardless of what’s becoming a slightly familiar underlying theme in modern films, Transcendence is starting to generate some serious buzz. This is largely because it was directed by Wally Pfister. He was a relative no-name on his own, but he has served alongside Christopher Nolan (as director of photography) on some of his most impressive projects. The film does have a bit of a Nolan-esque look to it and even stars a few of his favorite actors in Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall and Cilian Murphy. We’ll find out in April if it lives up to the lofty expectations that a link with Mr. Nolan will undoubtedly cause!
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