A Distant Technology: Science Fiction Film and the Machine by J. P. Telotte

By J. P. Telotte

Technological know-how fiction motion pictures have a good time and critique the impression of a burgeoning know-how at the world's cultural, political, and social milieu.

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What is probably his most representative Machine Age work, the two-feeler The Electric House (1922), well illustrates this view. In this film Keaton plays a recent college graduate his degree is in Botany who is mistaken for an electrical engineer and asked to convert the Dean's old house to a Page 12 modern, totally electric residence. This narrative premise obviously echoes Wilson's description of the period's belief that everything "could be built as readily as the machine" itself. And the character's acceptance of the project, with a manual titled Electricity Made Easy as his only aid, seems to affirm that notion.

The Tramp as a Piece of Film in a Camera, in Modern Times 8 3. Buster Keaton in The Navigator 10 4. Buster Keaton in Sherlock, Jr. 11 5. Wings: Friends United by their Common Love of Flying 14 6. Seduction in a Constructivist Context: Aelita 41 7. Aelita Performs Under the Stern Eye of her Husband 43 8. Metropolis and the Setback Skyscraper Style 50 9. The Scientist and the Robot of Metropolis 55 10. The Workers of Metropolis Revolt 56 11. The Robotic Maria in Metropolis 57 12. The Space Explorers in Die Frau im Mond 60 13.

It is a vehicle with which, we learn, he has already "left the ground several times" in accidents. More to the point, it is a kind of dream machine, a device that makes him dream of being up in the clouds, far away from his small-town home and its suggestion of a rural, agrarian America of earlier times. This dream leaves him so detached from this world that he hardly notices Mary, who has a crush on him, as he races off to show Sylvia his car. And this mad rushing about "Life marched at the double quick," a title offers prepares us for the speed with which, as war is announced, both he and David jump at the chance to sign up for the Army Air Corps and go to France.

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