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Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)

I guess that about covers it
Cold emotionless metal splayed across the planet? Check. I guess that about covers it.

Genre: Sci-Fi Drama Thriller

Starring: Eric Braeden ("The Rat Patrol"; "The Young And the Restless"), Susan Clark (Airport 1975)

Directed By: Joseph Sargent (MacArthur; Jaws: The Revenge)

Overview: When Colossus, the American defence super-computer, is officially unveiled, it discovers the Soviets have a similar system of their own, and insists it be allowed to communicate with it.


Joseph Sargent began directing TV episodes, like "Gunsmoke" and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." From there he expanded into films, though mostly the 'made for TV' variety. I suppose his unknown name became infamous with Jaws: The Revenge (1987) but Colossus was certainly not where his decline began. With solid performances by everyone, I'm surprised the careers of these actors went the way they did. Don't let titles like "The Young And The Restless" fool you into thinking this is mediocre work.
Rating: 8


Though the clothing dates the film, that's just about the only thing. With sliding panels to the War Room, computer banks stacked high with blinking servers and video telecommunications between Cold Waring nations, the visuals revolve mostly about the unique 'space-age' design of this mildly futuristic central computer room. Because they don't pull any crazy stunts, it's still quite impressive today.
Rating: 8


Dr Forbin: How in the hell do you propose to move half a million people from the isle of Crete? How and where?
Colossus: If Man cannot solve that problem, I can.

Colossus plays the cold war game perfectly... coldly. Each side has the scientists with an opinion about the intention of their creations, while cautious statesmen have another. The central issue at hand is whether or not to let the American Colossus communicate with the Soviet Guardian. Eventually, Colossus decides for himself, with very unique consequences. His own voice is certainly the most interesting.
Rating: 8


So you're thinking "right, the old 'oops, we let a computer capable of learning take over the world and look what happened' cliché." But here's the thing: I'll bet Colossus: The Forbin Project is one of the films that established this common plot because it's so frickken awesome. You can see the influence Colossus has on films like, WarGames, Tron even The Matrix and The Terminator to a lesser extent. Rather than exploring the obvious 'we're hopeless slaves now' or the opposite 'look how we defeated something bigger than us', Colossus explores the transition from defence of America to global responsibility. Of course we see conflicts come to a head, but we also explore the human side of this battle of wills. At the same time we see where Colossus takes the people who designed him, and more importantly why.
Rating: 9


Reading around the obvious places, one will find such words as "we must fight it for the world!", 'sinister agenda' and other dramatic ominous insinuations of evil computer control, yet Colossus is not about that. Think of an emotionless genius tasked with safeguarding humanity. Humanity is a long-term plan, right? If you wanna make an omelette...
Rating: 8

So, uh, now that this thing's taken over the world, wanna...
So, uh, now that this thing's taken over the world, would you maybe... wanna...

Overall Rating: 82% (A Worthy Project)

The Vituperatem has been doing a lot of hovering in the 'little-known film' category, but I'm glad to say that this was indeed a nice find. It's like opening a historical tome that give context to all that has come since. Just as chapters like Metropolis and 1984 lead to this, so does this naturally progress to 2001 (though Colossus was written before 2001, Kubrick's 2001 was released before The Forbin Project), Tron and The Terminator. I'm quite surprised that I've never heard of this. It's good to have friends who find you things like this. It saves you a lot of repertoire-building research. Go ahead and fill that empty slot in your 'technological fear' section of your film brain, it belongs there.

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