November 25, 2018

A Freudian analysis of Humans and Machines in classic films

After reading The Movies on Your Mind (Harvey R. Greenberg, 1975), I’m still not sure what the goal of this book was. The theme is clear, but the goal not so much.

My favorite takeaway is that humans have always rejected our creations when they seem to threaten our dominance. The movies the book analyzes that focus on machines and technology are way more interesting that those that focus on the tired Oedipus complex. If you’d like to hear the Freudian analysis, it would seem that this rejection is a reaction against the perceived threat that such creations pose.

In other words, we are all afraid of being replaced by a better or improved version of ourselves. We are afraid of becoming obsolete. We are afraid of death.

The book draws parallels between Frankenstein’s monster (the original Robot), 2001’s HAL, the machine from Metropolis, and Colossus from 1970’s The Forbin Project. Each movie reinforces the confrontational relationship between humans and machines.

Unfortunately The Movies on Your Mind is one of those old books written in that academic style characteristic of cumbersome vocabulary and long descriptions that lack personal insights.

All in all, I do love reading how old authors understood our relationships with machines.

November 25, 2018


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