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The Mechanical Man (1921)

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Planetary Explorer

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:52 pm    Post subject: The Mechanical Man (1921) Reply with quote

The Mechanical Man (1921)

A reign of terror is unleashed by the mechanical man, who is remotely controlled by Mado,the evil female mastermind. The mayhem continues unchecked until the inventor's brother succeeds in creating a second mechanical man, who he sends out to confront the original.When the two mechanical monsters meet at a masked ball in the Opera House,they destroy each other and the Opera House as well, as panicked ball-goers stampede for the exits.

Frantically attempting to control the mechanical men during its final battle, Mado is electrocuted at the control panel by a short circuit.

This Italian release from the silent era only partially exists today, about 27 minutes of the total length. It was released by Alpha Video (2005) in a restored version that remains severely degraded.

Despite the synopsis above,most of the first half is completely incomprehensible and some scenes are misplaced, including a fire sequence that appears after the fire is supposed to have been put out.

For its time, it is remarkably imaginative. Mado, the mad scientist, wears a concealing mask, predating the fantastic serials of the nineteen thirties and forties like The Crimson Ghost. Dueling robots were not exactly familiar figures on screens in the early 1920's

It is impossible to know what audiences of the era thought about it or their familiarity with the concept of a mechanical man

Historically there was The Mechanical Turk, a robotic chess player, invented by Wolfgang von Kempelen in the early 1700's. This was debunked by Edgar Allan Poe in his 1836 essay Maelzel's Chess Player. Karl Capek's famous play, RUR in which he coined the word Robot, had been written in 1920 and performed the following year. It is entirely possible RUR, which was a sensation eventually translated into some thirty languages, influenced the screenwriters of The Mechanical Man.

The movie is no lost classic, but is fast moving and contains several imaginative sequences, such as the mechanical man chasing a car down the road and Mado controlling the creature from her laboratory by watching it on a wide screen television set, herein referred to as a "silver screen."

Watching the damaged print is a chore, even at 27 minutes, but it is historically important as, perhaps, the movies first depiction of a robot.

Color tinted, with a musical track.

Edit: The movie is available on Youtube in several forms, the best comes with English titles and has the clearest visuals. Here is the link.
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