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Demon Seed, October 30

Genetic Screenings

Thursday, October 30, 2003
7:30 a.m. DEMON SEED
Donald Cammell (U.S., 1977)

Greg Niemeyer in Person


Proteus is a super supercomputer with a synthetic cortex and a bad attitude. Endowed with A.I., he (yes, Proteus is gendered with Robert Vaughn's soothing voice) decides Man with a capital M is a menace, driven not by reason but by emotion. Of course, that's also the one quality that Proteus lacks. "I cannot feel the sun on my face," he wistfully states—in fact, he can't even feel the sun on his interface. Then Proteus has a better idea: if he had a child it would be state-of-the-art progeny and need SPF. What follows is the most infamous date rape in cinema history, as Proteus puts the robot-assisted moves on a young psychologist played by Julie Christie. Pure techno-trauma, Demon Seed shows us the maniacal mainframe having its way, fabricated gametes and all. To put a soul in the new machine, director Cammell imagines computer consciousness as a wondrous field of abstract images, designed by experimental mediamakers Ron Hays and Jordan Belson.

—Steve Seid

• Written by Robert Jaffe, Roger O. Hirson, from the novel by Dean R. Koontz. Photographed by Bill Butler. Electronic music by Ian Underwood, Lee Ritenour. With Julie Christie, Fritz Weaver, Gerrit Graham, voice of Robert Vaughn. (95 mins, Color, 35mm, From Warner Bros.)

Preceded by short:
Organum
(Greg Niemeyer, U.S., 2003). World Premiere! Referencing Bacon's famed treatise about our misreadings of nature, Greg Niemeyer's captivating CGI short orchestrates an allegory about mutation and possibility. Yearning for love, fanciful creatures spun from human anatomical parts scamper about a cavernous world. It's as if humanity's aspirations remain long after resemblance has disappeared. Music by Chris Chafe. (12 mins, Color, Video, From the artist)

(Total running time: 107 mins)