DIRECTED BY: Ebbëto
FEATURING: Fábio Norat, Giovanna Velasco
PLOT: An android tasked with guarding a lone man in hibernation on a deep-space journey takes radical steps to protect his charge, including creating a female companion and acting to protect the pair from sin.
COMMENTS: Surely we’ve learned by now that leaving an artificial intelligence in charge of the future of all life on a lengthy space voyage is a risky proposition. The supergenius mainframe might become homicidal. A highly damaged android might implant the embryos of a malevolent race of unstoppable killers. An autopilot might plot to prevent humanity from returning to its ancestral home. There’s a good argument that those pesky AIs can’t be trusted with our safety at all, and Analog provides us with a new reason to be skeptical: the dang thing might try to become God.
Filmmaker Ebbëto (in addition to directing, he also takes credits for screenplay, cinematography, editing, and 2D animation) makes his intentions clear in his own description of the film: “Strange events with biblical analogies begin to occur, disturbing the machine and making it rethink its priorities.” The obviousness is not overstated. Sensing his charge’s loneliness, The Machine extracts a rib for the purposes of crafting a companion creature. Later, he will probe the minds of the pair and discover desires that he cannot sanction, as though they had new knowledge of themselves. What Analog brings to the table is an appalling realism: the cutting, bleeding, and growing attendant with these procedures are made explicit. So, too, is the humans’ punishment for their sinful thoughts. This is Adam and Eve retold as horror.
Analog is a marvelous example of the remarkable potential of DIY filmmaking. Ebbëto creates a number of immersive settings, including the cramped, industrial spaceship. It’s not always completely realistic – the green-screen technology sometimes gives off that DVD-ROM cut-scene vibe – but it’s thoroughly otherworldly and cleverly overcomes its limitations. There’s a lot of mileage to be gotten out of smart cables, rotating tubes, and robot repair.
But what little story there is amounts to a kind of grotesque punchline. The biblical beats hint at critique or satire but are really just the excuse for an outline, and once you’ve admired the bang-for-your-buck ethos, there’s not much more to it. Analog works best as a proof-of-concept for Ebbeto’s filmmaking skills; that’s the more interesting genesis story going on here.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“Analog definitely isn’t going to be for everyone. It is slow and obtuse, and while I tend to dig that kind of deliberate, cautious tempo, I’ll admit, the whole thing does feel too long… Analog is still an interesting watch. There is a creepy ambience, and while that blanched out visual style can overwhelm your eyes from time to time, the look is consistent and unique.” – Brent McKnight, Giant Freakin Robot
(This movie was nominated for review by Lesharky. Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)