Gibel sensatsii (1935)

aka Loss of Feeling
Article 2800 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-6-2009
Posting Date: 4-13-2009
Directed by Aleksandr Andriyevsky
Featuring Sergei Vecheslov, Vladimir Gardin, M. Volgina
Country: Soviet Union

In order to solve the problem of workers going crazy on the assembly line, an inventor creates a corps of robots to do the work.

Because my copy of this movie is in unsubtitled Russian, it was rather difficult making heads or tails out of some aspects of the plot. However, knowing that the movie was made in the Soviet Union (a country which practiced governmental control of motion pictures with the aim of spreading Soviet philosophy) and given their probable stance on machines that would take the place of the proletariat, I wasn’t really surprised at the attitude of the movie towards the robots; the key piece of information that I found out from a plot summary after watching this was that it does not take place in the Soviet Union, but in an “English-speaking capitalist land”. It’s visually inventive, and has some truly memorable scenes, including a cabaret number about robots, and a stunning scene in which a saxophonist performs a solo amidst an army of 9-foot tall robots who are waving their massive arms about. From what I can tell, it’s very well done and quite effective; the fate of the saxophonist is particularly shocking. The opening scene conjured up visions of both METROPOLIS and MODERN TIMES, and you might suspect it’s a version of R.U.R. when you see that acronym emblazoned across the robots’ chests, but it’s not based on the Capek play and has an entirely different viewpoint. Let’s hope that someone eventually gets some subtitles on this and it gets an official release; it looks to be one of the great early science fiction movies.


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