Posts Tagged ‘HBO’

Trailer for Lovecraft Country – Short Lived SF/Fantasy Hero Tackling Racism and the Monsters of Cthulhu Mythos

August 28, 2021

Lovecraft Country was a short-lived SF/Fantasy series on H.B.O. last year. Set in the era of Jim Crow, its Black hero travelled across the American south, faced with White institutional racism on one hand and creatures like H.P. Lovecraft’s Great Cthulhu on the other. I found the trailer for it on Kinocheck International’s channel on YouTube. According to their blurb for the show

Based on Matt Ruff ‘s novel of the same name, Lovecraft Country follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he meets up with his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father (Michael Kenneth Williams). This begins a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and the terrifying monsters that could be ripped from a Lovecraft paperback. Lovecraft Country (2020) is the new mystery movie starring Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett and Wunmi Mosaku.

I admit, I had my doubts about this show. Mr H in his review of the show said that it looked interesting, but that it wasn’t actually based on anything Lovecraft had written, although there were references to him and his monsters. I was also afraid that the series would take the opportunity for some very heavy-handed anti-racist preaching, of the type where all the White characters would be racists and all the Blacks good, decent, innocent victims. Andy Ruff, who wrote the source novel, is White, but Quinn, the Black YouTuber of the Science Fiction channel, Quinn’s Ideas, praised it and said that Ruff was exactly right in his depiction of the time. This is praise indeed, as some of the literature by White authors exploring anti-Black racism has been criticised as patronising, sometimes with good reason. Looking at the trailer, however, it seems that the series was actually quite good.

Unfortunately, we may never know. It’s been cancelled. The show’s writers and creators have said that there will not be a second series, which could be a real pity. I hope one of the other channels will repeat the series and if it’s out on DVD I’ll buy it, although that may be something of a forlorn hope given the way everything is being channelled from DVD onto the streaming channels.

RUR Performed by Lego Robots in Prague

October 24, 2016

Yesterday I put up a piece discussing the similarities between the humanoids in H.B.O.’s WestWorld SF TV series, based on the 1970s film of the same name by Michael Crichton, and R.U.R., the 1920’s play by Czech writer, Karel Capek, which introduced the word ‘robot’ to the English language. In both WestWorld and RUR, the robots are actually closer to the replicants of Blade Runner, in that rather than being machines, they’re biological constructs produced artificially through the processes of industrial manufacturing. Capek’s play has been produced many times, and its theme of a robot rebellion against humanity has been one of the dominant themes in Science Fiction. It’s most famous treatment has been in the Terminator films, in which a virus infects the Skynet computer system, causing it to revolt against humanity, unleashing an army of killer drones and humanoid robotic soldiers.

I found this short video on YouTube. It’s about a production of R.U.R. staged last year, 2015, at the Czech republic’s national gallery in Prague by CafĂ© Neu Romance, and directed by Christian Gjorret. Gjorret is a member of the group, Vive Les Robots, which has been set up to get the public interested in robots and robotics. The theatre company took the unusual step of performing the play entirely with robots, made out of the commercially available lego kits available in toy shops.

It’s an interesting approach, even if it means that the physical scale of the performance is rather small. I think there’s an opportunity to stage the play on a much grander scale, using life-size animatronic robots. There is, after all, a robot band called Compressorhead, which plays cover versions of various Rock and Heavy Metal tracks. The ABC Warrior, which appeared in the 1995 Judge Dredd film was also genuinely robotic. It also looked to me very much like a real robot was used to show C3PO’s mechanical nature, when R2D2’s metal mate made his first appearance being built by Anakin Skywalker in the first of the Star Wars prequels, The Phantom Menace. The problem with staging such a production would be the immense cost. Animatronics aren’t cheap. The operators of the Ry’gel puppet in the SF series Farscape said in an interview that the portable version of the character cost as much as a car, while the studio version was even more expense, and cost the equivalent of a house. Nevertheless, I think if it could be staged, it would be a fascinating and genuinely thought-provoking experiment. If nothing else, it would show how near we are to creating some of these machines, and how pressing and prescient some of the SF stories dealing with the issues of Artificial Intelligence, freedom, and the survival of humanity faced with machines, which may be its superior, are.

Here’s the video: