Movie of the Week: Android (1982)

This near-forgotten, small-but-substantial movie rates a tepid 5.8 on imdb.com (user reviews) but a solid 83% on rottentomatoes.com (critic reviews). To me, this indicates that most people who rent a movie called Android, produced by Roger Corman and allegedly starring Klaus Kinski and with no previous knowledge are probably going to be disappointed. This is not a drive-in action-horror like Creature, it's a philosophical drama that has haunted me since I saw it in the mid-80's.

Like several other Corman science fiction productions, this was filmed on leftover Battle Beyond the Stars sets in Venice, CA. The budget was a mere $500,000. But the limitations in resources are made up for with sensitivity to the material. This is a touching little film, and it's also fun, with a black comedic streak.

Here's what might interest me about it, and I don't even have to give away any plot, just the premise: Max the Android (credited simply as "himself" in the end titles, but actually a human co-writer of the screenplay) is sharing a remote space station with Klaus Kinski, who created him. But Max is an old model, so he's largely ignored while Kinski develops more technologically advanced androids. Max is left to fill the days on his own, assimilating Earth culture through old movies, living a life of isolation. This is an existential scenario: if your creator has forgotten you, then how do you give your own life meaning, especially when existing in a literal vacuum? How does one live a life after God?

But soon a crew of three with mysterious motives shows up on the station, including a female, the first Max has ever seen. Then the movie delves further in what it means to be human. Some smart and reflective people made this film, and it should be better known. On a related note, Corman decided it wasn't Corman-y enough, and sold the rights back to the filmmakers after completion. It sat around for two years before it was theatrically released in '84.

The actor/writer who plays Max is perfect as the center of the film, and the Maggie character is a charmer. This was the only real role of her career. She was a drummer in a all-girl band when the (first-time) director met her at a party, and he recommended her to audition. And if you're going to sit through this just because you're a Klaus Kinski admirer, be advised that you'll be seeing him for about 10 cumulative minutes.

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