Electric Dreams

Screening on Film
Directed by Steve Barron.
With Lenny von Dohlen, Virginia Madsen, Maxwell Caulfield.
US, 1984, 35mm, color, 95 min.
Print source: Park Circus

“I don’t know anything about computers,” our schlubby, emasculated protagonist whines to an electronics store worker. “Nobody does!” she replies. But thirty years before Spike Jonze explored the same humbling premise in Her,computers knew us in Electric Dreams. When a new computer is dropped and later doused in champagne, it names itself Edward and composes music, impersonates a dog, designs an earthquake-resistant brick. Years before the onslaught of “Big Data,” anxieties that human intelligence will be slow and outdated in the computer age rest at the heart of Electric Dreams—anxieties further underlined by the vapidity of the film’s central romance. Directed with delightfully kinetic visual panache by Steve Barron (of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and A-ha’s “Take On Me” music videos), Electric Dreams is truly a romance between camera and computer, machine and machine, as the balletic, show-off kino eye stares with wonder and fear at its digital companion.

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