TRANSCENDENCE (film, 2014)

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TRANSCENDENCE. Wally Pfister, dir. Jack Paglen, script. Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Morgan Freeman, featured players. Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas exec. prod., along with Dan Mintz. Chris Seagers, prod. design. Alcon Entertainment ("Presents") DMG Entertainment ("in association with") Straight Up Films (and Syncopy?) (prod.) / Warner Bros. (North American dist.), 2014; see IMDb for details.[1]

A potpourri of tropes, motifs, and plot elements useful for the study of the human/machine interface in a handsomely produced and serious film (if one getting, at this writing, definitely mixed initial reviews).[2] See for early 21st-c. iterations of the themes of AI, machine take-over, uploading a mind and personality onto a mainframe, nano-technology, nano-tech cyborgization/possession, cybernetic hive-mind, and "the mechanical god": in this case cybernetic rather than mechanical, and with the theological implications strongly suggested visually, with the visuals reinforced in the dialog. Nicely controversial (in Erlich's opinion) for the eventual alliance between the US FBI and other armed arms of the US government and terrorists/humanist freedom-fighters identified as "Neo-Luddites." Students of "the Singularity" will note with interest, amusement, or anger that it is imaged here to suggest a nano-tech Rapture.

Cf. and contrast COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT, Max Headroom, THE LAWNMOWER MAN, LAWNMOWER MAN 2: JOBE'S WAR, virtual cyberspace inhabitants in the cyberpunk subgenre and in the later books of Frederik Pohl's HEECHEE series; and, for possession and hive-minds, such works as INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED.

Note well one piece of unequivocally positive technology: a simple but classy (= elegant) record player for vinyl LP's[3]; this may be an example of and, and "objective correlative" for, appropriate technology (often meaning technology the person making the evaluation grew up with).

According to Jason W. Ellis in his review in SFRA Review #314 (Winter 2015 [sic]): pp. 26-27,[4] discussed in Sharon Packer's Neuroscience in Science Fiction Films (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015).

Discussed in Sylvie Magerstädt's Body, Soul and Cyberspace in Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema, which see at link.

RDE, 19-20/IV/14; 10Aug21, 17Aug21