Robot dreams – Utopia must not die!

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Written By Maya Cantina
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The final scene is an ascension – a tracking shot in the wonderfully blue sky above New York. In him the twin towers of the World Trade Center risewhich is a leitmotif, a repeatedly alternated image, in the film ‘Robot Dreams’ by Pablo Berger Are. In an almost treacherous manner, the Spaniard raises the exciting question of whether the great destroyers of happiness who brought down the towers and with them the illusion of a peaceful world in September 2001 will eventually come into the picture.

Will there ever be an awakening from the dream, will something like human realism finally find its way into the ‘robot dreams’ and replace utopia? Or is she just not allowed to die? That the director did the last sequence accompanied by the song “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire thus giving the viewer a final ironic nod to which moment in human history he focuses his film on, heightening the tension to an almost unbearable level for anyone who can read the previously carefully laid traces.

Because it is a deceptively idyllic utopia, a surreal mythical world in which he transformed New York before the turn of the millennium. In the best Donald Duck tradition Animals play the role of humans. The main character is a dog simply called Dog. The dog’s diet consists of Cheetos and macaroni and his life is monotonous. With the intrusive question ‘Are you lonely?’ the TV commercial encourages him to purchase an Amica 2000, a self-assembling robot that bridges the gap between the 1980s (where the film appears to take place) and the turn of the millennium. .

The story works on all levels

A wonderful time of togetherness begins in which Dog grows into the role of Joaquin Phoenix in the satire ‘Her’ (2013), which is about a flesh-and-blood human who falls in love with an AI voice. On the last day of the bathing season, Dog goes to the Ocean Beach Playland with Robot. They spend wonderful hours together at the fair.

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Then they go to the adjacent beach for a swim. The seawater is bad for Robot: one of his legs becomes lame. When Dog leaves his friend, drama ensues: the beach is closed until June 1 of the following year because it is the end of the season. The dog cannot get over the barrier fence. His paralyzed friend has to be left alone. Will their friendship survive this?

‘Robot Dreams’ fell into the ‘Best Animated Film’ category this year nominated for an Oscar. And you have to admit: absolutely right. The old-fashioned cartoon works on many levels, not only as an allegory for the golden age of universal harmony longed for by the adepts of the Great Transformation, but also as a timeless story about friendship and the other important and less important things in life. . In a sense, ‘Robot Dreams’ itself is universal.

Animal sounds that growl or clear their throats

It is – and that is also an achievement – ​​one of the few works of cinema that everyone in the world, from toddlers to old people, can see and understand, no matter how old they are, no matter what level of education they have. , no matter what language they speak. There is no dialogue in the film, just animal growls or throat clearing noises. The film can be shown unedited in any cinema in any country in the world.

This universalistic style points to the actual motivation of the Spanish-French co-production, which underlies the comic strip of the same name by the American Sara Varon: she wants to portray a world of harmony, peace and amiability. The interesting thing about it: it is not the classic family – it practically does not appear in the film – but friendship acts as a bond of social cohesion. And it doesn’t have to last forever; it can always be closed again, depending on the situation. Each animal appears as an individual among individuals.

New York, a modern Babylon as a melting pot of migrants, is the dream come true of a world that no longer knows boundaries between races (here: animal species), no wars, no violence and, strictly speaking – here it gets tricky – no love either. It is simply fascinating and, like the mythical kidnapping of Helena, often a major source of hatred and violence. When Dog and Robot are separated for a few months, the dog takes comfort in a friend who vaguely resembles Duffy Duck and goes with her to Stony Brook Park – the next idyll. But at some point the affair ends and the duck escapes. That’s life. It marches on and takes us with it. No drama at all.

Here is the flower quilt

Arguments, suffering, shouting: none. When Dog goes to the ski slopes in the winter, there are a few troublemakers – in youth jargon you would say: catty boys – who mock him, a rare case of bullying, an archaism that seems strange in this feel-good Walt Disney world. Usually there is demonstrative harmony.

The superficial arbitrariness in relationships and an AI as a partner replacement raise doubts among the critical viewer as to whether this utopia is really desirable. In any case, you can dream even bigger: in the film’s most original scene, the robot climbs out of the screen like the hero in Woody Allen’s “The Purple Rose of Cairo” (1985), turns around and ends up in an idyllic place – again la-Land, a fairytale rainbow landia in which the bear does not tap dance.

Here the flowers dance and invite you to dance to one of the many pop classics that accompany the film. In the background, arched by the New Age rainbow: the famous skyscrapers of New York. Christoph Schlingensief would probably have said that heaven cannot be as beautiful as here.

The world will ‘revile and persecute’ them because of Christ

This excursion into the flower power wonderland places ‘Robot Dreams’, at least at first glance, in line with the many proclamations of the new and rejection of the old that define current Western dominant culture. You could summarize it as the replacement of Christocentric realism by anthropocentric illusionism. Because the anthropocentrism propagated here – ironic and therefore artistically broken by the animal figures – contrasts strikingly with what is actually celebrated on Ascension Day.

With the final farewell of the Messiah from his earthly existence, it was certainly not a paradise situation for his followers left behind, but rather a difficult struggle. As apostles of Christ, they did not walk into a future where the Risen One from above ensures that the red carpet is rolled out for them wherever they step foot; they faced a future of challenge, threat and persecution. Jesus had prophesied to them in the Sermon on the Mount that the world would “reproach and persecute” them for his sake, and that is exactly what happened. Paul himself describes in the 2nd letter to the church in Corinth: what he had to endure: abuse, imprisonment, death and even stoning. So there is no trace of a terrestrial cloud cuckoo at home.

And why all this? Because Christians had an uncomfortable truth to tell: “You are dead! There is in you the germ of evil, which only Christ can root out from you.” The Bible knows paradise. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah describes a world in which wolves and lambs live together in harmony, Ezekiel and the Revelation of John paint a picture of the future of a paradise temple city.

The orchard dreams come to fruition

But these are apocalyptic visions, the realization of which is directed by God as Lord of the Last Things, and people are merely extras. a This worldly wonderland of universal harmony, built by mortals using their own power On the other hand, from a Biblical perspective it is a presumptuous utopianism, actually something like original sin. Because according to the Biblical creation story, it was emancipatory pride that caused the expulsion from Paradise. With Christ’s ascension, Christianity did not enter a world in which the cloud-blossom dreams of boys finally matured and the suffering and weeping ended ad hoc, but rather, beginning from Jerusalem, a time of proclaiming Christ’s message of peace and reconciliation. Ultimately, global Christianity emerged amid much resistance, setbacks and loss of life and limb.

However, Jesus’ message of an internal kingdom has been largely forgotten and replaced by an institutional Christianity that the Nazarene never preached. In free churches, evangelical and pietistic movements This belief in an inner kingdom, which you do not enter through baptism but through a conscious inner conversion to Christ, lives on in the remains.

The Awakening of the Rainbow Cult

The board of the EKD and the German Catholics who had strayed from the ‘synodal path’. On the other hand, they have long served anthropocentric rainbow paganism. Between those who, according to Paul, have become “joint heirs with Christ” and the rainbow heretics However, there is a deep crack, for which the fundamentally different view of man is responsible: for Kingdom of God Christians, as a result of fundamental human disobedience against God and his commandments, he is “evil from his youth”, as is said in the story of Noah’s Ark. The awakened people of the rainbow cult, on the other hand, believe in the elemental-cosmic connection of all that exists and in the fact that humanism appeals to the noble core in every human being, moral role models and the memory that it is connected to all members of the human family, all can dispel negative energies like a bad dream.

‘Robot Dreams’ – and that’s the beauty of this magical animated film – creates a happy utopia of a world that is certainly not perfect, but can be repaired at any time; But the title of the film already raises the open question of how realistic you can consider all this – or how unrealistic. Any film can bring illusions to life on screen. He can pretend: turn back time and simply undo September 11th. It’s as if Pablo Berger simply doesn’t want to believe that the WTC collapse ever happened. ‘Robot Dreams’, with all the mythical creatures that populate its New York, is consistently conceived as a challenging alternative to reality – and yet remains a distant dream that could be shattered by reality at any moment as drastically and sustainably as on September 11 2001. .

JF20/24

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