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Film / Westworld

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"Boy, have we got a vacation for you!"
Westworld is a 1973 Sci-Fi Horror thriller written and directed by Michael Crichton.

In the near future, Delos is an expensivenote  adult amusement resort offering simulations of The Wild West, Medieval Britain, and Ancient Rome. Each park has a population of humanoid robots, with whom visitors can interact however they wish. As a part of the Delos experience, one can fight with them, seduce them, and even kill them. After all, the robots are programmed not to feel pain or fight back, and the weapons provided only work on machines. Everything is completely harmless.

Two friends, John Blane (James Brolin) and Peter Martin (Richard Benjamin), arrive in Delos to get away from their busy lives. They head into Westworld, where John has been many times before, to have fun and act out various Western-themed scenarios. In particular, the mousy Peter earns his manhood by defeating one particular Gunslinger robot (Yul Brynner) in a duel. In the middle of the night, the robots are rounded up and repaired for the next day's events.

However, the technicians running the park are having problems. The robots break down faster than expected, the memory wipes are less effective, and they begin to resist the visitor's demands. It is speculated that a computer virus has infected the machines, one that soon causes them to murder humans. Alarmed, the head engineer orders everything shut down immediately, but this only results in suffocating everyone in the control room to death. With the machines running amok, John and Peter discover the Gunslinger has come after them, looking for revenge...

Futureworld, a 1976 sequel made without Crichton's involvement, removes the original film's giallo influences, being more akin to a sociopolitical thriller. The Delos resort has been revamped and re-opened, and a pair of Intrepid Reporters (Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner) are invited to preview the park's attractions (including a new theme park, Futureworld), but soon learn that Delos's backers have much more sinister plans for their improved robots... Notably, Yul Brynner's "Gunslinger" shows up in Futureworld, but only in a Dream Sequence and having absolutely no logical connection with the original character. Both movies were followed up by a very short-lived television series, Beyond Westworld. In the series, set after the first movie, John Moore (Jim McMullan), the head of security for Delos, and agent Pamela Williams (Connie Sellecca) are sent after mad scientist Roger Quaid, who aims to uses the androids to take over the world.

A television series adaptation of the film, co-created by Jonathan Nolan (Christopher Nolan's brother), executive-produced by J. J. Abrams, and starring Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, and Thandiwe Newton, aired on HBO from 201622.

This work contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Yul Brynner's Gunslinger character wears the same outfit as Brynner's character Chris from The Magnificent Seven. It is possible that In-Universe, the Gunslinger was specifically modeled after Chris from that film.
  • Affably Evil: Just before he kills John, and begins stalking Peter, The Gunslinger quietly, and even with a trace of a smile, asks them both to draw, and simply shoots Blane down in their first gunfight, the way a gunslinger would. Subverted after Peter starts running away, and the audience, and Peter, realize the gunslinger has marked Peter and is going to hunt him to the ends of the park in order to kill him. Even the technician attempting to flee that Peter stumbles up on lampshades the fact that Peter is pretty much doomed unless he can save himself.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: This movie was made long before the idea of a "computer virus" entered popular knowledge, yet they do refer to it as a "disease."
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Delos resort descends into one.
  • Android Identifier: The robots of Delos Park are very close to resembling humans, except for having silver eyes and notably less human-like palms on their hands. While the palms are In-Universe Technology Marches On concerns (two of the park's guests discuss that the technicians are still working on getting them right), both details are still used to identify (and thus reassure) that someone isn't a robot at two different points of the film.
  • And You Thought It Was a Game: The first two victims in Westworld assume the androids will let them win their duels as they have been programmed to do.
  • Answer Cut: Peter asks who Miss Carrie is. We cut right to her at the bar in her saloon.
  • Artistic License Gun Safety: Averted, the guns the guests (and presumably the robots) use have a sensor so you can't kill anything "warm," only something cold, like a machine. However, it should be noted that presumably there is nothing to stop guests from being hit by stray bullets that ricochet off walls or floors. One of the guests actually tries playing quick draw with his gun, and shoots out the mirror. The book of the movie has a robot removing the sensor from its gun, something the movie missed explaining, after it takes the trouble to explain the guns have heat sensors. Still there never is any explanation as for why the robots are given live ammo in their guns.
  • Bald of Evil: Yul Brynner as the Gunslinger.
  • Bar Brawl: John and Peter participate in a simulated one. It involves lots of broken bottles and chairs.
  • Big Door: In Futureworld. In a scene with a rocket launch there is a giant circular door, in real life the Thermal Vacuum Chamber at the Johnson Space Center. That door has since appeared in other movies as well.
  • Blinded by the Light: The implacable robot gunslinger stalking Peter Martin has infra-red vision, so Peter hides behind the Hollywood Torches in Medieval World.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: A robotic version appeared in Futureworld. A door has a device that scans the retinas of anyone trying to get in. To pass, you must have a pattern that only robots possess. The heroes deactivate a robot and rip off its face, then use the face (and its eyes) to fool the device.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The Gunslinger appears to be equipped with these.
  • Broken Record / Electronic Speech Impediment: This was the cover copy for the published script for the movie: "Nothing can possibly go wrong ... go wrong ... go wrong ... go wrong ... "
  • The Cameo: Yul Brynner in Futureworld.
  • Cattle Punk: An inversion. Late 20th century robotic and Artificial Intelligence technology were used to re-create the Wild West for entertainment.
  • Computer Virus: Present in Unbuilt Trope form—or alluded to, at least. The film never explains why the robots are malfunctioning, but the head programmer notes that that malfunctions are increasing in frequency and spreading throughout the three parks. After he uses the word "contagious", a more skeptical programmer shoots back "I must confess I find it difficult to believe in a disease of machinery."
  • Covers Always Lie: Some of the posters, such as the one on this page, Make it look like The Gunslinger has taken a serious beating from someone, I.E. Peter, yet is unstoppable. In the film, Peter barely gets a mark on him until he manages to give The Gunslinger a face-full of acid, and it's only by damaging the robot's vision that Peter is able to hide amongst the torches and get the drop on it and set it aflame later.
  • Cue the Sun: In the movie the technicians watch for sunrise and cue all the robots to start up at the instant where the sun rises above the horizon. A western town is frozen in mid movement, then everything starts up when the sun rises.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Gunslinger before his rampage. He was meant to be snarky in order to goad tourists into gunfights.
  • Determinator: Years before Arnold codified it, Yul Brynner gave us the original unstoppable killing machine...
  • Decoy Protagonist: Since John Blane is the "experienced" guest, and since he's played by rugged James Brolin, as opposed to the nerdyish Richard Benjamin, when things go wrong at the park, it's natural to assume that Blane has a better shot of surviving, or at least helping out Peter by them working together. Instead, he's shot by The Gunslinger at the beginning of the third act, and during the process of having a play-duel with The Gunslinger, as opposed to dying in the middle of something heroic. The audience, like Peter, is stunned when Blane gets killed, and even more worried about Peter, as he's far less of challenge than the gunslinger is.
  • Diagonal Billing: Yul Brynner at lower left, Richard Benjamin at upper right.
  • Downer Ending: Technically it's a Bittersweet Ending in that Peter (presumably) makes it out alive, but it's presented on such a dour note that it might as well be this. Most of the guests and technicians in Delos are dead at the end, and most the robots 'died' when their batteries ran out. Peter finds a woman chained and begging for help, and tries to offer her water... only to short her circuits. He doesn't even get the satisfaction of saving someone else's life, and is pretty much the last survivor we know of at the end of the film.
  • Dream Sequence: In the sequel. Provides an excuse to revisit the Gunslinger character.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: John Blane seems like he's on target to be the eventual hero of the story once the park starts breaking down, as he's more seasoned than Peter in the way the park operates. Instead, that prior experience proves his undoing, as he treats The Gunslinger's call to draw as just the normal shtick, (To be fair, there's no glaring red flags that prove anything is amiss) and once the safety parameters are lifted, The Gunslinger easily outdraws and kills him at the beginning of the third act.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Gunslinger, once the safety protocols are lifted, could have easily just waited behind a corner and shot both John and Peter after they stumble out of the bar, hung over. Instead, due to its leftover persona, The Gunslinger instead calls John, and then Peter, out to draw, rather than just murdering them outright. Seeing The Gunslinger kill John then gives Peter the insight that things at the park have gone completely haywire, and gives him a chance to evade, and eventually get the upper hand over The Gunslinger and destroy it, and survive.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Only Peter survives, and all other on-screen characters are confirmed or most likely dead.
  • Evil, Inc.: Delos has become this in Futureworld.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The Gunslinger.
  • Failsafe Failure: When the staff perform an emergency shutdown on the park, all they accomplish is locking themselves in the control room and suffocating since the doors and ventilation system need power to operate and don't have a backup power source. This fails to stop the rogue robots, since they're powered by batteries.
  • Flipping the Bird: Chuck gives Dr. Schneider the finger at the end of Futureworld after killing his duplicate and escaping Delos.
  • Fluorescent Footprints: The Gunslinger uses his infrared scanners to track Martin by following his footsteps, which shows up as bright red in his infrared vision.
  • Girly Run: Peter. Not sure whether this is Richard Benjamin's natural gait or a deliberate way of invoking the character's effete, citified nature in contrast with the Gunslinger.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Turns out the new infrared tracking suite that the Gunslinger was upgraded with works excellently; too bad the safeties are turned off when he starts using it.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The robots aren't supposed to be able to hurt guests.
  • Hero-Tracking Failure: Happens when the Gunslinger tries to shoot Peter with a rifle.
  • Holodeck Malfunction: Of the robot rebellion variety.
  • Hufflepuff House: Roman World is by far the least important of the three parks. Most of the action takes place in Westworld, and the end of the film sees Peter going to Medieval World (in addition to the subplot about a man getting killed in a duel), but Roman World barely factors into the plot.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Played with. Near the end of the film, Peter finds a woman in the dungeons of Medieval World. He initially believes her to be a fellow guest left chained up when the robots ran amok, either as part of a capture-and-escape fantasy like the jailbreak in West World or else maybe as some kind of kinky bondage game. Then he finds out she's a robot when a drink of water shorts her out.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The fate of the guest who played a medieval knight. Also, most of those who were killed by robots in the Ancient Rome section of Delos.
  • Implacable Man: The Gunslinger is more-or-less the predecessor to The Terminator in all but name.
  • Ironic Echo: "Boy, have we got a vacation for you... for you... for you..."
  • Jerkass: The Gunslinger starts out this way as he is programed to goad anyone near him into a duel.
  • Jump Scare: Just when Peter thinks it's over, the horribly burned and smoking remains of The Gunslinger grab him out of nowhere, catching him completely defenseless, before it finally breaks down completely.
  • Kill and Replace: In Futureworld, the Delos Corporation is plotting to replace world leaders in commerce, business, and technology by luring them to Delos and swapping them for android duplicates that would be programmed to obey Delos and kill their originals.
  • Kill All Humans: The Delos Corporation's endgame in Futureworld.
  • Kill It with Fire: After acid didn't work so well.
  • Last Note Nightmare: The closing credits feature jocular western music that eventually fades into this.
  • Made of Iron: The robots, of course. Slightly less so in Futureworld.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: When John gets shot by the Gunslinger and falls to the dirt, after he stands up back he just stares in disbelief at his chest wound and says "I'm shot" from shock and unable to grasp he could actually be hurt by the Gunslinger.
  • Malevolent Architecture:
    • The main control room has no emergency exit, and shutting down the power means they can't open the doors at all. The room is also airtight for some reason, with air being pumped in through vents. This essentially turns the function of shutting down power from that room into a suicide button.
    • The rest of the park isn't any better. There don't seem to be any fire alarms, emergency escapes, evacuation routes, emergency evacuation vehicles, or speakers to relay information.
  • Nave Newcomer: It's Peter's first visit to the park, and John winds up explaining a lot about the rules of Westworld to him and to the audience.
  • Neutral Female: The Queen in Medieval World simply watches her lover getting stabbed.
  • Narm: In-Universe. The more silly "performances" of the tourists at Delos certainly qualify. Justified considering they aren't trained actors and are basically hamming it up for fun to emulate what they've seen on TV and film. The robots within are also deliberately over-the-top personae and cliches as the setting dictates. For some viewers all of this can become a case of Narm Charm as it adds a certain authenticity to what is essentially an adult theme park. Peter lampshades this to an extent when he talks about feeling silly but he eventually starts to enjoy it. (Until things go wrong, that is...)
  • No OSHA Compliance: The safety hazards in the park are flat-out obscene. The Delos control room has doors that are entirely reliant on electric power. There is no way to open them or alternative means to exit the room if the electricity ever goes down. Then, of course, there is the fact that the robots in Westworld are inexplicably armed with live ammunition in their guns. Meanwhile, the robots in Roman World and Medieval World have real edged weapons. Also, there's the sheer fact that after the robots lose their safety protocols, there's no way to stop them, and they'll continue rampaging or killing, in most cases, until their batteries run down.
  • No Peripheral Vision: When Peter hides in the canyon waiting for The Gunslinger to come into view, it turns out the gunslinger was standing off to the side in full view.
  • Novelization: Crichton himself wrote one that was closer to his original script.
  • No Waterproofing in the Future: But acid? That's okay.
    • Note that they actually show robots drinking during the bar fight scene.
  • Oh My God!: Peter's reaction when the Gunslinger fatally shoots John, then challenges him to a draw, and he understands that The Gunslinger intends to gun him down just as easily. He starts running for his life only seconds later.
  • Prepare to Die: After The Gunslinger has gunned down Blane, the way he then looks at Peter and says "Draw," is essentially this. Peter knows it too, as well as knowing he is not a match at all for The Gunslinger in a draw now, and immediately runs away.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis: The Simpsons episode "Itchy & Scratchy Land" is far more well-known by young people than this film, which it parodies. That is, when they don't assume it's a parody of Crichton's other story about a theme park breaking down, only with robots instead of dinosaurs. Though less so after the HBO series brought more attention back to the film.
  • Red Right Hand: Robots can be identified by the palms of their hands.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: One of the first indications that things are beginning to go seriously haywire at Delos comes when John is "bitten" by a robotic rattlesnake.
  • Revealing Hug: The eyes of the Sex Bot prostitute Peter's humping fly open in a creepy way when he's on top of her. It's the first sign that all is not well at the park.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The only dead giveaway between a real human and a robot is that the scientists haven't programmed particularly good hands for the machines.
  • Robo Cam: The first use of CGI in a film is the Gunslinger's comically low-resolution POV.
  • Robot Buddy: Clark, in Futureworld, an old maintenance robot Harry rescued from the scrap heap and keeps around for companionship. He requires constant repairs, so Harry generally leaves his faceplate off.
  • Robosexual: You'd have to be to be willing to have sex with an android. Invoked in that some of the androids were intended to be seduced by the park guests, such as Daphne from Delos' Medievalworld.
  • Rule of Three: The Gunslinger attacks three times, the third becoming deadly.
  • Sacrificial Lion: John Blane unwittingly saves Peter by insisting to take on The Gunslinger in a quick draw match after the park has gone haywire. Seeing Blane gunned down gives Peter the insight to know that all bets are off, and he'd better start running if he has any chance to survive, as he knows he's little match for an unstoppable machine, out to kill him, and with its safety features off.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Worn by the hovercraft pilot in the beginning.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The repair technician Peter encounters while fleeing from the Gunslinger. Who gets killed anyway.
  • Sex Bot: Pretty much all the female robots at Delos. Another sign of the park malfunctioning is when a serving maid refuses a guest seduction, even though it's part of her programming.
    • Heavily implied by the interview with a female park-goer that just came back from Roman World that the men are equally well suited for this task too.
  • Sword Fight: One of the guests dies during one in the Medieval World.
  • Tempting Fate: "Nothing can go wrong."
  • Too Dumb to Live: Yes, not shutting down the park early was a bad move, but building the control rooms with electrically powered doors that are air tight and air systems that are also electrically powered that make it impossible to get out was just asking for a disaster to take advantage of the flaws.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Peter seems like easy prey for The Gunslinger, especially once John Blane is killed. Instead, Peter manages to use his wits, and a bit of luck, to outsmart the unstoppable Gunslinger and destroy it before it kills him.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The robots, particularly the Gunslinger and The Black Knight.
  • Tyop on the Cover: Invoked to produce a Blatant Lies effect as some posters for the film included the line
    Where nothing can possibly go wo
  • Uncanny Valley: In-universe, the robots' hands (their faces are actually realistic, since they're played by real actors).
  • Unusual User Interface: Shifting geometric shapes appear on at least half of the monitors in the control room. However, they are all either in empty terminals or the technicians aren't doing anything with them, so it might just be a nifty screensaver.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Peter and John are a mild version of this.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Dick Van Patten, the man with the glasses who became the new sheriff of Westworld (after the previous, robotic one was shot down by John) is never seen again after the bar brawl sequence. Though given his clumsiness and complete lack of physical prowess, it's safe to assume that he was killed just like the rest of the guests. Oddly though, even though he's a supporting character we see several times during the film, he's one of the few we never see die, or dead, on-screen, as opposed to Norman Barthold, who we see get killed by the knight.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Speaking of Dick Van Patten, something very weird was going on with his voice. He only really has one speaking line in the film, and for some reason, he either did it trying to sound even nerdier than he sounded naturally or they overdubbed his lines with someone else's voice.
  • Ye Goode Olde Days: All three Worlds. Justified since it is, quite literally, The Theme Park Version of these eras.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: The Black Knight says "I'll end thou" when it should be "I'll end thee."
  • Zeerust:
    • The control room. They had control tapes.
    • Even more flagrant in Futureworld, in which the simulated "space mission" looks dated even by 1976 standards, despite being staged by androids more human-like than anything we have in the 2010s.

Alternative Title(s): Futureworld