Before he made the Hulk a hit and Hercules a scene stealer, Greg Pak worked on Robot Stories, a sci-fi film about the relationship between humanity and technology. A stunning foray into the robotic mystique, the movie yanks at the tangled threads of human emotion and the very confused state of modern living through four separate tales of drama and in one case comedy.
My Robot Baby is an adorable tale about a couple trying out the role of parents on a test robot. The story mainly focuses on the mom-to-be after her husband leaves her alone with the robot baby in order to go on a business trip. She is frustrated by her attempts to understand the functioning of the robot baby, and eventually melts down into hysteria that says more about her relationship to impending motherhood than technology. As a new parent, this was especially evocative to me, but the very human nature of the segment would speak to anyone.
The Robot Fixer is probably my favorite story because it taps into a few personal elements. A mother struggles to re-awaken with her coma-stricken son by re-assembling his childhood robot toys. At first she is completely befuddled by them but in time she becomes a downright expert and demands specific parts to complete the cherished collection. As a toy collector, I often wonder what my bizarre hobby looks like to others, my loved ones in particular. This story touches upon that and a mother’s awkward and desperate need to be close to her son.
Machine Love (starring Pak himself) features a pair of robots assigned menial office jobs finding a very human emotion of love. Being a life-time cubical dweller myself it was very funny to see an android doing the work of an admin. The two droids awkwardly find themselves drawn to each other, actively avoiding their tasks.
In the last segment, Clay, the film explores the concept of sharing memory as if it were data and nothing more. The intricate and subtle nature of this idea of conveniently storing life experiences is explored through an aging sculptor and his desire to remain unconnected through the cold process that would dump him into a sea of other downloaded memories.
All of these short films combine into a concise picture of the modern world and its relationship to the technology that is overtaking us on a daily basis. As we have entered a new millenium with its viral marketing, social networking and online sales, it’s important to remember that deep down we are still human beings. Robot Stories does just that.