A World Where Number Five Is Alive

The human obsession with artificial life has been a long-lasting one, ranging from Doctor Frankenstein’s monster through Karel Čapek’s robots to Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics. However, reality still lags behind science fiction, with the times of discussing the robotic vacuum cleaners’ right to vote still being out of sight. Or not really? Forget about Transformers and Star Wars and enter the real Robot World. First 50 viewers can stream the film for free.

Robot World is the second part of the planned trilogy by German director Martin Hans Schmitt dealing with the theme of “technology-mind-evolution”. Highway World, the first part of the project, was launched in 2008. The compilation film essay reflects on various forms of human mobility in the contemporary society. It deliberately refrains from any commentary, relying merely on the power of images accompanied by atmospheric music. The “hymnal” style is retained in the Robot World as well. Similarly to the first part, the second part of the essayistic trilogy, too, has the form of a rich visual collage. The film material comes from archives of world’s technical universities and private companies, industry fairs and military laboratories. Out of these sources, Martin Schmitt has collected respectable 122 hours of footage, trying to transform it into a sixty-minute poetic vision of the “robot evolution”.
Although there is no unifying narrative line to be traced in the film, its “evolutionary” intention is still obvious. The film has a structure of an open spiral, cyclically returning to the various stages of development of the robots, varying and shifting them at the same time. According to Schmitt, robots have undergone a similar development as life in general; from simple “switches” (kind of cells) to a team of cybernetic football players; from the first attempts to imitate the human palm to a humanoid violin player. This verily “mechanical ballet” is accompanied by the music by English violinist and composer Matt Howden, thus completing the overall “hymnal” atmosphere. As if the director tried to continue the famous Quatsi trilogy by Godfrey Reggio (congenially accompanied by Phillip Glass’ music), which has in a way re-defined the documentary genre of the film ode.
Besides the extras in the form of anonymous automatic arms, mechanical lines, chirurgic tools and home assistant robots, the film also features a whole range of real robot celebrities. The famous figures of the robotic universe include Asimo, HRP-2, Justin as well as Hiroshi Ishiguro and his perfect robotic doppelganger. The eccentric Japanese scientist is also one of the protagonists of the Danish film Mechanical Love. Depicting emotional bonds between people and robots in a more traditional way than Schmitt’s film, the popular film by Phie Ambo is also available at the DAFilms portal. In the week 9.-15.1. for free!

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