Westworld: A Science Fiction Gem
Inspired by the 1973 movie of the same name, Westworld is one of the most acclaimed series in recent years. It tells the story of an Old West theme park populated by human-like androids, where visitors can unleash their desires as if they were in a video game.
The New World is the title of its latest season, which was released in March 2020 and takes us out of the park to place us in a futuristic reality, without forgetting the exploration of themes such as consciousness and the nature of reality that make up the story. At MFC Editorial we delve into its narrative secrets and uncover what makes Westworld a gem of modern science fiction.
Westworld: Paradise on Earth
In an unspecified future, Delos Inc. created a series of theme parks inhabited by hosts, androids programmed to fill the parks with life and guarantee a realistic experience to its visitors, who enjoy the journey exempt from any danger.
Westworld is one of these parks, designed to offer its clients the opportunity to experience firsthand the violence that reigned in the Old West. Each day, the hosts repeat a behavior pattern specially programmed to keep rolling the park’s interconnected narrative. But what if these androids began to rummage through their most hidden memories? What secrets does Delos Inc. hide and what is the true purpose behind the construction of the park? This is the story of Westworld, a gem of modern science fiction that explores common questions in the genre in a fresh way.
The show stars Anthony Hopkins in the role of Robert Ford, co-founder and director of Westworld; Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy, the park’s oldest host and one of the androids who begins to question the nature of the world in which she lives; Ed Harris as the Man in Black, a recurring guest looking to uncover Westworld‘s hidden secrets; and a top-notch cast that includes renowned personalities such as Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, James Marsden and Aaron Paul, among others. Both the first and the second season have 10 episodes each, while the third will only have 8.
Genesis: The Creation of Westworld
Westworld is based on the 1973 film of the same name, written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton. Crichton is best known for creating the television series ER and for having written the novel Jurassic Park, which he adapted to a screenplay alongside David Koepp for the 1993 film directed by Steven Spielberg.
With J. J. Abrams as executive producer, the series was created for HBO by Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, brother of acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan and with whom he frequently collaborates on films recognized for the depth of their stories. The teamwork of the Nolan brothers includes titles such as Memento (2000), a film that deals with the concept of causality in the intricate construction of its timeline; The Dark Knight (2008), where the moral principles that govern society are questioned; and Interstellar (2014), whose history explores theoretical concepts such as the relativity of time and the fourth dimension.
Nolan and Joy drew inspiration from video games like Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to create the intricate narratives of the park’s open world, while they have referred to other films of the genre such as Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) and the bibliography of great science fiction authors such as Philip K. Dick as a source to learn about the dilemmas related to artificial intelligence, a main theme in the Westworld plot.
The first season of the series was produced on a budget of approximately $100 million, co-financed by HBO and Warner Bros. Thanks to the quality of its acting, directing, writing and cinematography, Westworld has received generally positive reviews and has become one of the most successful series in recent years, with a first season that ranked as the most watched of an original HBO series.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: Westworld & Philosophy
Westworld stands out not only for its great story and memorable performances, but for the relevance of the topics it addresses. Crichton‘s work usually explores themes of great scientific and philosophical importance, especially the condition of man as creator of life and the agency that this new entity can develop, as seen in his films Westworld and Jurassic Park. On the other hand, the serial format allowed Nolan and Joy to fully immerse themselves in philosophical questions that have more to do with the notion of humanity.
Westworld is a show that is not afraid to ask bold questions about the extremes of human nature, how we might behave in a world without rules and how we operate in a space where people can choose to be heroes or perpetrate terrible acts upon hosts, mere robots that cannot feel pain or emotions, and that are repaired and ready to work the next day as if nothing happened to them.
In addition to addressing the personal quest to find out who we are as individuals, Westworld pays special attention to the condition of androids as self-conscious beings, taking basic notions of classic science fiction and wondering what the boundaries are that differentiate the androids from the human. Westworld offers us a story where notions of humanity are blurred, where we can ask ourselves if a human who commits atrocities is less human than a robot programmed with a moral code and with the possibility of making his own decisions, where we can be a part of a personal search in which we can lose ourselves, as well as find us.