It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)

Faith Domergue had a cold beauty that made her suitable as female scientist, Professor Leslie Joyce, in It Came from Beneath the Sea.  It also helped that she was a brunette.  The stereotype of the cold, hard scientist whose intellect does not allow itself to be swayed by mere sentiment and feeling was especially prevalent in the old science fiction movies, and thus a beautiful female scientist constituted a special challenge for a macho leading man, used to having his way with women.

In this movie, said macho leading man is Commander Pete Mathews, played by Kenneth Tobey.  Tobey already had experience as Captain Patrick Hendry in The Thing from Another World (1951) breaking down the resistance of science assistant Nikki (Margaret Sheridan), who is referred to as a “pinup girl,” so you might think things would be a little easier for him in this film; but then, Faith Domergue also had experience playing the beautiful, cold scientist, Dr. Ruth Adams, resisting the charms of Rex Reason playing Dr. Cal Meacham in This Island Earth (1955), so I guess that made them even.

A lot of old movies are sexist by twenty-first century standards, but science fiction movies from the 1950s, with their inevitable beautiful female scientists, often have a feminist theme in them, pushing back against that sexism.  As a result, the message tends to be mixed, with the movie expressing a sexist attitude one minute and a feminist attitude the next.  For example, in Rocketship X-M (1950), Dr. Lisa Van Horn is a female scientist who is going to be part of a crew on the title spaceship.  Much is made of her qualifications. But then, when it comes time for the astronauts to secure themselves for blastoff, we see that the men can easily strap themselves in, but one of the men has to strap Lisa in.  This strange combination of sexism and feminism is especially flagrant in It Came from Beneath the Sea.

Joyce’s colleague is Dr. John Carter (Donald Curtis).  Other than when first names are being used, he is always addressed as Dr. Carter, never as Mr. Carter, but while Joyce is frequently referred to as Professor Joyce, she is often addressed as Miss Joyce as well, presumably because her status as a nubile maiden takes precedence over her professional qualifications.  They have both been called in to investigate a hunk of mysterious substance that got caught in the diving plane of Mathews’ submarine.  After an initial inspection, however, Joyce is not willing to spend any more time studying the specimen, because she has more important matters needing her attention elsewhere.  In other words, she is just as hard to get as a scientist as she is as a woman.  However, her expertise in marine biology makes her indispensable, and she is forced to continue with the investigation.

Of course, once Mathews has seen what Joyce looks like without her protective radiation suit on, he is especially glad she will be forced to continue on, and he wastes little time making his moves on her.  He wants to know if there is anything going on between her and Carter. “Oh, you mean romance,”  she says, as she picks up a foot-long test tube.  While gently holding this scientific prop with phallic significance, she teases him about the lack of women aboard a submarine, but she refuses to say whether there is anything between her and Carter.  Later, when Joyce definitively determines the nature of the substance, Carter kisses her on the cheek, and then she nestles in his arms as Mathews calls Naval Intelligence.  If they were actually involved romantically, this would not be so strange.  But they are not.  As a result, we once again get that strange mixture of feminism and sexism:  on the one hand, she is the expert in her field and has found the solution; on the other hand, she is a pretty girl that men just naturally kiss and hold in their arms, even when that man is a colleague in a professional setting.

Anyway, the substance turns out to be a piece from a giant octopus.  The octopus has been exposed to a lot of radiation owing to tests of the hydrogen bomb.  Radiation did not make the octopus big as it did the title character in The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) or the ants in Them! (1954), because this octopus has always been big.  However, the fish it was used to eating have natural Geiger counters in them that make them avoid the octopus, forcing it to leave its natural habitat and seek food elsewhere.  It is amazing what lengths these 1950s movies would go to in order to make radiation the cause of whatever monster they had to deal with.

Joyce and Mathews are somewhat contemptuous of each other’s profession.  She says to Mathews, “my mind just isn’t attuned to discuss things on your level, Commander.”  Later, hearing that Joyce and Carter will be meeting in Cairo to investigate the sinking nature of the coast of the Red Sea, Mathews says to Carter, “Sounds ideal.”  When Carter refers to it as mixing work with pleasure, Mathews responds, “Work?  Oh yes, that is your work, isn’t it?”

On their last night in Pearl Harbor, they all decide to have dinner together at a restaurant.  Mathews is bossy, practically pulling Joyce out of her chair while announcing they are going to dance and even telling Carter to order her a steak.  She refuses to dance, says she does not want a steak, and sits back down.  But she agrees to his suggestion of lobster and finally agrees to dance with him.  While discussing the weather in Hawaii, which is always balmy, she says she likes the winter and the snow, which naturally suggest frigidity on her part.  At first, we think that Mathews is going to try to kiss her, but she moves her head forward and kisses him instead, and then puts her arms around him.  So, contrary to appearances, she is a sexually aggressive woman.  Then they return to the table and have their meal.  When Mathews realizes that Joyce still intends to go to Cairo, he is shocked.  Presumably, he thought that since they kissed, she was going to give up all this foolishness about a career, marry him, and have babies.  He leaves in a huff.

Their plans to go to Cairo, however, are foiled by the occurrence of another incident.  It seems a tramp steamer has disappeared at sea, and Admiral Norman has rescinded their release so they can investigate to see if there is any connection to the previous one with Mathews’ submarine.  Fortunately, they find a few survivors.  In order to get the facts, a doctor examines them.  After the first survivor tells his story, in which it is clear that the giant octopus attacked the ship, the doctor indicates that he does not believe him, starts humoring him, and tells him in an ominous manner that he is to be taken down the hall to talk to another doctor about what he thinks he has seen.  The other three survivors are not fools.  They realize the other doctor is a psychiatrist and that their mate is likely to be diagnosed as mentally ill and confined to an insane asylum.  So, they deny having seen anything.  They are given lie-detector tests, which show that they are lying when they deny having seen anything.  And then the first survivor recants his story so that he can be released from the infirmary.  Mathews and the other officers are exasperated and just don’t understand why they can’t get the truth out of these guys.

Professor Joyce rises to the occasion.  Removing her coat so as to expose a little more of her soft, warm flesh, she tells the officers she will talk to the first survivor when he is released, and then contrives to be alone with him in a room.  Using her womanly wiles—giving him sexy looks, touching his hand, showing a little leg—she gets the man to admit he saw the sea monster, which the officers hear through the intercom.  So, you see, that’s why we need female scientists, because they have special ways of getting to the truth.

Mathews and Joyce decide to investigate reports of poor fishing along the northwest coast, because it may be that the octopus has been eating all the fish.  They spot what might be called an octopus footprint on the beach and they send for Carter.  Meanwhile, they decide to check out the fish population in the area, which they do by putting on the swim suits they just happened to have with them.  No fish, so they do a little hot necking on the beach.

When Carter arrives with the deputy sheriff, Mathews asks Carter to help him persuade Joyce to leave and let the Navy take over the job.  When Carter asks what Joyce has to say about that, Mathews responds, “What’s the difference what she says?”  At that point, Carter proceeds to lecture Mathews about women:  “There’s a whole new breed who feel they’re just as smart and just as courageous as men.  And they are.  They don’t like to be overprotected. They don’t like to have their initiative taken away from them.”

Joyce picks up the argument:  “A, you’d want me to miss the opportunity to see this specimen, one that may never come again. B, you’d be making up my mind for me. And C, I not only don’t like being pushed around, but you underestimate my ability to help in a crisis.”  Carter says that he is entirely on her side, as she nestles into the arm her puts around her.  Mathews concedes to having lost the argument.

Suddenly, the octopus appears and kills the deputy, causing Joyce to scream like a girl.

The octopus starts wreaking havoc on San Francisco, Mathews and Carter take turns saving each other’s lives, during which Joyce screams again, finding solace first in Carter’s arms and then Mathews’, until at last the octopus is killed.

They have dinner again.  Mathews, noting that women can change, says he wants Joyce to marry him and start a family.  She says she hasn’t time for that, indicating that she is an independent, career-minded woman, who wants nothing to do with a life of domesticity.  But then she offers to collaborate with him on a book, How to Catch a Sea Beast, a title that lends itself to more than one meaning, inasmuch as Mathews, as captain of a submarine, is something of a sea beast himself.  From this we gather that her ultimate goal is to trap a man.

The Phantom Empire (1935)

The Phantom Empire is the greatest serial ever made.  It runs for 245 minutes, and footage from this serial was edited down to 70 minutes in order to make a movie out of it, alternatively titled Radio Ranch or Men with Steel Faces.  The movie version loses much of the camp value of the serial, however.  Also lost is the way it cheats with the cliffhangers, letting us think something terrible happened, only to show something different at the beginning of the next chapter.  Subsequent chapters after the first begin with a stirring piece of music that sounds almost too good to be original with this serial.

Gene Autry, playing himself, is half-owner of Radio Ranch, where people come to stay as paying guests and from which Autry broadcasts a radio program every day.  In the first chapter, after singing a song, he introduces Frankie Baxter (Frankie Darro) and his sister Betsy Baxter (Betsy King Ross), his partner’s children, who head a club sponsored by Radio Ranch called National Thunder Riders or Junior Thunder Riders.  They tell about how one day they saw a bunch of men with capes and helmets riding horses that sounded like thunder, though they do not know who those men were.  Nevertheless, Frankie and Betsy formed the club, the members of which wear capes and helmets modeled after the ones worn by the original Thunder Riders, as they call them.  Other kids are encouraged to visit the ranch and join the club, or they can start their own local fan club and get patterns so that their mothers can make Thunder Rider costumes for them.

Then Autry narrates the next installment of a serial within this serial in which the Junior Thunder Riders ride to the rescue to save a man and his wife from a bunch of bandits.  You might think that since this is a radio serial, only dialogue and sound effects would be involved, but they actually act out the parts, almost as if it were being filmed, which, I guess, in a way it is.  Perhaps not so much anymore, but there was a time when children would see a Western at a theater on Saturday morning and then want to play cowboys and Indians that afternoon.  This serial took that one step further by having the children within the story playing at what the grownups were doing, even to the point of becoming involved with the grownup story itself, thereby making it easier for the children in the audience to imagine they were part of the story when they acted out the parts later on.

Meanwhile, a bunch of men fly in by airplane, who we quickly figure are up to no good.  One of them, Professor Beetson, believes that somewhere underneath Radio Ranch is Murania, populated by descendants of an ancient city, who moved underground to escape the glaciers a hundred thousand years ago.  Beetson believes that if they can locate Murania, they will find valuable deposits of radium and secrets that have been lost to the world, technology based on their knowledge of radiation.  Their plan is to get rid of Autry by causing him to miss a broadcast, which will result in the loss of his radio contract.  Or they can just kill him.  Either way, they figure the ranch will become deserted, giving them the freedom to look for Murania without being disturbed.  This plot point leads to several ludicrous situations in which Autry is fleeing from the Thunder Riders or from the scientists, in danger of losing his life, and right in the middle of it all has to worry about getting back to the ranch in time to sing another song.

All this is on the surface.  Meanwhile, twenty-five thousand feet below the ranch is Murania, where the original Thunder Riders live, when they are not galloping about on the surface for whatever reason.  There are, of course, the expected absurdities in this lost city, such as that everyone speaks English.  Muranians cannot breathe surface air, so they have to wear helmets that supply them with oxygen whenever they leave their city.  (Don’t look at me, that’s the explanation that is given.)  And yet, although Muranians cannot breathe surface air, surface people have no trouble breathing Muranian air.  Also peculiar is the mixture of ancient and futuristic technology.  The Muranians have television, allowing their ruler, Queen Tika, to see and hear what is going on anywhere on the planet.  They have all sorts of advanced weaponry, such as guided missiles and ray guns, and yet the guards carry spears.  They have robots to perform the manual labor, but the ones that are armed have swords.  Moreover, when the Thunder Riders need to enter or leave Murania, they have a robot turn a crank to open the door, instead of simply having the equivalent of a garage-door opener.

Their government seems to be a bit of a mixture as well.  As noted, there is a queen who rules over her subjects.  However, she refers to one of the wounded soldiers as a “comrade,” a term not normally used in monarchies, but which would have suggested a communist state like the Soviet Union in 1935.  And there is reference to the “secret police.”  When she watches the television to see what is going on in the world, she is contemptuous of the insanity she witnesses, calling the surface people fools, who are always in a hurry, their lives full of death and suffering.  You might think from this that Murania must be an enlightened utopia, especially when she declares that their civilization is not only advanced, but also serene.  But when the captain of the Thunder Riders fails to capture Autry as she commanded, she starts to put him to death for incompetence, but then decides that lashes with a whip will be a better punishment.  In fact, she routinely condemns her officers to the “Death Chamber,” after which their charred bodies are sent to the “Cavern of Doom,” so we wonder just how serene her subjects can be under the circumstances.  She wants Autry captured so that she can drive everyone off Radio Ranch, because she fears that surface people will discover Murania and invade it.  Of course, it is Autry’s very presence at Radio Ranch that is preventing the discovery of Murania by Beetson and others, as she well knows from watching that television of hers, which allows her to overhear Beetson discussing his plans.  But she figures on getting rid of Autry’s Radio Ranch first, Beetson’s gang later.

When the captain fails a second time, she commands Lord Argo to put him to death in the Lightening Chamber.  But once inside, Argo tells the captain that every time someone is supposedly put to death (thirty-seven so far this year), he saves him so he can be part of the rebellion he is planning.  The captain agrees to join the rebellion, and so his execution is faked.  Though Queen Tika has people whipped or executed for merely failing to carry out her orders, despite their best efforts, yet when she finds out about the rebellion, she cannot understand why people are turning against her.  After all, she knows she has been a good queen, because that is what her underlings tell her when they are asked.  Later, Betsy says what most of us have been thinking, that Queen Tika reminds us of the one in Alice in Wonderland, always shouting, “Off with his head.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Junior Thunder Riders have parallels to Murania beyond merely fashioning themselves after the Muranian Thunder Riders.  Frankie has a secret laboratory on the second floor of a barn in which he invents gadgets, just as scientists in Murania continue to develop new technology down below.  While the Muranians have wireless telephones, the Junior Thunder Riders can be summoned to the secret laboratory with a light bulb moving up through the roof blinking on and off in Morse code.  While the Muranians below the surface watch the world on their television, the Junior Thunder Riders watch what is happening on Radio Ranch with a periscope that peeps through that same hole.  And just as the Muranians live secretly underground, the Junior Thunder Riders have a secret underground passageway beneath the barn leading out of the side of a hill much as the entrance to Murania is on the side of a mountain.  Just as we see only one female in Murania, Queen Tika, so too is there only one female in the Junior Thunder Riders, Betsy.  In one sense, however, the parallel is one of contrast:  while the Junior Thunder Riders consist only of children, the Muranians seem to consist only of adults.  Of course, that might make sense if the Queen is the only woman in the place.  In any event, she refers to Frankie and Betsy as “undeveloped surface creatures,” almost as if the very idea of children is one unfamiliar to Muranians.

And just because these are not enough plot complications, Autry is framed by the scientists for killing his partner, and so in addition to being hunted by Beetson’s gang and the Muranian Thunder Riders, he is also being pursued by the sheriff, all of which makes that daily broadcast a bit challenging.  Fortunately, he has the Junior Thunder Riders to help him in that regard.

Eventually, Autry is captured and brought to Murania, but he escapes.  Later, Frankie and Betsy are captured and brought to Murania, but then they escape too.  To block the path of anyone not authorized to pass by, there is a robot standing off to the side with a sword held erect.  When activated by a button on its chest, an infraray tells it if someone is trying to pass, at which point it comes down repeatedly with its sword.  So, when Frankie and Betsy are trying to escape and are blocked by that robot, Frankie presses the off button on the robot’s chest, and then they go right past it without a problem.

The rebels do not intend to establish a democracy, but rather simply want power, which promises to result in an even more repressive society than the one run by the queen.  As a result, Autry and his friends team up with the queen, who aids them in their escape.  However, in the course of the rebellion, all of Murania is wiped out by the latest advance in weaponry, an atom smasher capable of destroying the entire universe, but which ends up destroying itself instead.

Back on the surface, Beetson confesses to killing Autry’s partner, daring Autry to try to prove it.  However, thanks to a piece of equipment Frankie brought back from Murania, the confession is caught on television, and the bad guys are arrested, after which Autry makes it back to the ranch in time for his final broadcast for the season.

The Hunger Games (2012)

The basis for The Hunger Games is just a contrivance. It is said that the games referred to in the title, in which two teenagers from each of the Twelve Districts of Panem are forced to fight one another to the death, are punishment for a rebellion that took place seventy-four years earlier. Seventy-four years? Reconstruction only lasted about ten years after the Civil War. And whom would the Capital be punishing? Most of the people who rebelled would have long since died, and most of the people being punished would not even have been born when the rebellion took place.

The squalor of the districts people live in looks like something from the Great Depression. But when the Hunger Games begin, we find that technology has developed to the point that the people monitoring the games can cause three cats to materialize by pressing a button. Well, if they can do that, why not materialize a bunch of cows for the starving people in the districts to eat? Oh yeah, I forgot. They are still being punished for stuff they didn’t do.

We expect all movies to be politically correct to some degree, but when the political correctness is too obvious, you just have to groan. In particular, all the evil people in this movie are white; all the people who are not white are good. Oh brother!

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Whenever aliens from outer space visit our planet, there are three possibilities. The first is that the aliens are good, but we want to kill them because we just don’t understand them, as in It Came from Outer Space (1953). The second is that the aliens are evil and we have to defend ourselves, as in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956). All alien invasion plots were one or the other for a long time. Eventually, a third possibility emerged in which the aliens are good and we get along with them just fine, as in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a strange combination of the first two. Klaatu (Michael Rennie) is an alien from an unspecified planet in our solar system. He has come to destroy every creature on this planet, if we don’t do what he says. That’s every creature, mind you, not just man, but animals too. So, he is evil, and we need to destroy him, right? Wrong! Like a Necker cube, at various times the movie flips, and it is Klaatu who is good while we are in the wrong. Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) says that the spaceman may not be a menace at all, and that he is just afraid. The movie approves of her sentiment. Her fiancé, Tom Stevens (Hugh Marlowe), believes that the spaceman is a menace, but the movie wants us to regard him as narrow-minded and prejudiced. As a result, we get this incongruous depiction of an alien who is kind and lovable and good, but who will wipe out our entire planet if we don’t obey him.

What he insists upon, it turns out, is that we not extend out violent ways into space, thereby threatening his civilization and that of other planets. Because the movie is set contemporaneously, the year is 1951, and it will be several years before the Soviets even manage to launch Sputnik. So we are not about to extend our violence any time soon. But never mind that. Klaatu says he is losing patience and may have to level New York to get everyone’s attention. That sounds pretty evil, but then the Necker cube flips, and he is seen having a warm conversation with Professor Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe), who does not seem to be the least appalled by Klaatu’s threats to kill everybody.

Barnhardt, you see, is a scientist. In a right-wing movie, it is the military and the police that are good, while the scientists are dangerous, because they want to communicate with the aliens or study them, as in The Thing from Another World (1951). But this is a left-wing movie, where scientists are good and politicians are bad or at least pigheaded and narrow-minded. Barnhardt agrees to get scientists from all over the world to listen to Klaatu (apparently it takes a scientist to understand Klaatu’s threat to destroy all life on this planet).

Earlier in the movie, when the Necker cube flips and Klaatu is basically a good alien, he decides to find out what earthlings are like. He seems impressed by the goodness of humans; he is deeply moved by the words of Lincoln; and he is fond of Helen and Bobby (Billy Gray), her son. But then the Necker cube flips back, and he is once again threatening us with destruction, as if we were the scourge of the universe, and that includes Helen and Bobby.

Barnhardt suggests that instead of leveling New York, Klaatu should demonstrate his power without hurting anyone. Klaatu does this by neutralizing electricity all over the world, causing the electricity to go off, not only in buildings but also in engines, excepting only airplanes and hospitals. During the blackout, Klaatu and Helen are trapped on an elevator. By the time the power comes back on, he has confided in her and now she trusts him. “He’s not a menace,” she says to Tom. But Tom thinks Klaatu is a menace, which he clearly is. So, to keep us from siding with Tom, he is revealed to be an unpleasant character. In other words, it wouldn’t do for Tom to merely want to save all life on this planet from total destruction, which the audience might think a worthy motive.  Instead, he lets Helen know that telling the army where they can find Klaatu will allow him to write his own ticket, be the biggest man in the country, get his picture in all the papers, and be a hero. We should have suspected something like this when we found out he was a life insurance salesman. Needless to say, that engagement is off.

Finally, Klaatu delivers his message, saying that Gort is one of a race of robots who patrol the planets. If any planet steps out of line, it is incinerated. And they are like a doomsday machine, which cannot be turned off. Then Klaatu and Gort fly away.

As I said, this is a left-wing movie. Conservatives have always been suspicious of the United Nations, fearing a loss of sovereignty, accusing liberals of wanting our nation to submit to some supranational government in charge of a new world order. This takes that idea to the next level. Now there is a kind of United Planets, and it is Earth that has lost its sovereignty. The attitude of this movie is that this is a good thing.

The Creation of the Humanoids (1962)

I recently watched Ex Machina (2014) and Westworld(2016- ), and I have just started watching Humans (2015- ). Though these movies or television shows all qualify as science fiction, yet they do not seem as far-fetched as robot movies used to.  We are beginning to take seriously the rise of the robots and the implication that will have on humans. We are wondering if they are conscious or soon will be, if they are or soon will be persons rather than things.  And if they supplant us, whether that will be a tragedy or a blessing.

There are basically two types of robot movies:  mechanical men and humanoids. Actually, the term “humanoid” is sometimes used to include mechanical men as well, but I am using it here to refer to robots that look like humans.  So understood, humanoid movies have the advantage of allowing actors to play the parts just as they are.  In the case of mechanical men, it is often the case that an actor has to wear a metal and plastic getup.  It really does not matter, because many of the questions concerning robots and their implication for the human race remain the same, their appearance being of secondary importance. Sometimes the mechanical men are just servants or workers, but when they pose a threat, it tends to be physical; the threat of the humanoids typically constitutes an existential one.  There are exceptions to this, however.

Humanoid movies have a couple of extra features that mechanical men movies do not.  First, if they are humanoid, there is the possibility of having sex with them, although I suppose there may be a few out there kinky enough to want to have sex with a mechanical man or woman, assuming it makes sense to apply the concept of gender to them.  Sex with humanoids has all sorts of advantages: sex when you want it, the way you want it; you don’t have to shave first; you don’t have to worry about your performance; your humanoid won’t cheat on you and bring home an STD; and there will probably be an off-switch right there on your remote.  At least, that’s the way it will be until we start thinking of them as persons.  Then the questions of miscegenation and sex slavery will arise. And then you will have to shave first.

Second, with humanoid movies, there is the question of identity.  Who is a humanoid and who is a real human?  This can lead to paranoia, not unlike the fear of communists in our midst back in the day.  And even if we know who is what, the possibility of a kind of racism will emerge, one that might well be justified.

In any event, all this made me think of The Creation of the Humanoids, a cheesy science fiction movie made in 1962.  You almost get the impression that some friends got into a discussion one night about what was going to happen in the future when robots became advanced, and when the evening was over, they decided to put it into a movie. And because they wanted to get it all in, The Creation of the Humanoids ended up being 98% dialogue and 2% action. In one scene after another, characters speak didactically, informing us of the different types of robots, in what ways they are or are not like humans; the effect that robots are having on humans now that they are doing everything humans use to do only better; the relationships between humans and robots; and whether robots will eventually replace humans altogether. The end result is a low-budget movie with crude special effects that plods along from one dialogue scene to another, with the only redeeming feature being that some interesting ideas about the future of robots are discussed, ideas that are beginning to seem more relevant than ever.

In this movie, there is an organization called Flesh and Blood that is prejudiced against robots, derisively referring to them as clickers, with obvious similarities to the Ku Klux Klan. The main character, Kenneth Cragis, who calls himself “the Cragis” for some reason, is a high-ranking member of Flesh and Blood. He doesn’t hate the robots exactly, but he sure doesn’t want his sister to marry one. As a result, he is appalled to find out that his sister is “in rapport” with one of them, and you can guess what that means. When he went to confront her, I almost expected him to call her a clicker lover.

The robots are secretly trying to develop more advanced models, which are electronic duplicates of humans that have recently died, with all their memories implanted in them. They do this not because they are evil, but because they have been programmed to serve man, and they know what is best for man, even if the law actually forbids the development of robots beyond a certain level. These advanced models think they are human, except at special times, when they realize they are robots and report back to the robot temple.

Cragis falls in love with Maxine Megan, and they plan to enter into a contract, which is what they call marriage in the future. But then the special moment arrives, and they are taken to the temple, where they find out that they are robots. Cragis realizes that he has all the advantages of being human, with the robotic advantage of living for two hundred years, after which he can be replaced with another duplicate that will have all his memories. It is almost as if, in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Becky and Miles found out that they had already been replaced by a couple of pods, only the pods were an improved variety that also duplicated emotions, making them just like humans, only better, because, being plants, they can live longer.

As for Maxine, when they duplicated her, the robots decided that she was getting a little fat, so they slimmed her down in the duplication process, which is just one more way in which Cragis benefits from this robotic duplication process. In any event, they are duplicates of humans in every way, except for being able to reproduce and have children. Now, I can’t speak for Cragis, but I would call that a benefit. However, Maxine says she wants the fulfillment of having a baby. Dr. Raven, the scientist who is behind these duplications, says he thinks that form of producing new robots is a bit crude, but he agrees to take her and Cragis to the last phase of duplication, which will allow her to get pregnant.

In the final shot, Dr. Raven turns to the camera and suggests that as a result of having taken robots to this final stage, we in the audience are robots too.