The Electric Grandmother (1982)

aka Ray Bradbury’s The Electric Grandmother
Article 3938 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-22-2012
Posting Date: 5-26-2012
Directed by Noel Black
Featuring Maureen Stapleton, Edward Herrmann, Paul Benedict
Country: USA
What it is: Bittersweet science fantasy

A family grieving the loss of the mother decide to take advantage of an offer to get a robot grandmother. The new grandmother wins the hearts of the father and the two boys, but will she be able to win over the inconsolable daughter?

I was a little disappointed by this adaptation of the Ray Bradbury story “I Sing the Body Electric” during the first twenty minutes; I found it lacking in that poetic verve I expect from a Bradbury adaptation. However, the movie does a quick turnaround once the grandmother arrives and the story begins to focus on her relationship with the daughter, whose grief has given way to bitterness and anger. It is the movie’s focus on grief and the fear of loss that gives it its dimension, and it effectively taps into that desire that those we love will be with us forever by giving us a parental figure who won’t go away; the final scene in which the children have become old enough to be grandparents themselves is very moving. The movie isn’t flashy, but it resonates emotionally and it keeps its magic simple. Recommended.


  1. Is it possible to buy this on DVD do you know? Few tv programs affected me as deeply as this one when i was a child. To be honest, it scared the shit out of me, because it portrayed loss so clearly. Your lovely description of the film starting when Maureen Stapleton appears brought the emotional nuances back to me with a startling precision, and it has been perhaps 40 years or more since i have seen it. I ask because our family has suffered a great loss recently, and there is someone very dear i want to share it with.

  2. I don’t think it’s ever been officially available on DVD, though I know bootlegs were available at one point. Sadly, it’s been eight years since I saw it, and I can’t remember where I got it. I notice a VHS is available on Amazon, and there’s a streaming version on YouTube.

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