Colossus: The Forbin Project

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Colossus: The Forbin Project

theatrical poster
Directed by Joseph Sargent
Produced by Stanley Chase
Written by Screenplay:
James Bridges
Dennis Feltham Jones
Starring Eric Braeden
Susan Clark
Gordon Pinsent
William Schallert
Music by Michel Colombier
Cinematography Gene Polito
Editing by Folmar Blangsted
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) 8 April 1970 (NYC)
Running time 100 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) is a science fiction film based upon the 1966 novel Colossus, by Dennis Feltham Jones, about a massive, eponymous American defense computers becoming sentient and deciding to assume control of the world.[1]

Imagine Entertainment and Universal studios have confirmed that a remake titled Colossus, to be directed by Ron Howard, was announced to be in production as of April 2007[2], but seems to have ended up in development hell.


[edit] Plot

Dr. Charles A. Forbin (Eric Braeden) is the chief designer of a secret government project. He and his team have built a gigantic and fantastically advanced supercomputer, called "Colossus", to control all of the United States and Allied nuclear weapons systems. Colossus is built to be impervious to any attack, encased within a mountain and powered by its own nuclear reactor. When it is activated, the Kennedyesque President of the United States (Gordon Pinsent) announces its existence, proudly proclaiming it a perfect defense system that will ensure peace.

Almost immediately after the broadcast ends, Colossus displays a cryptic warning: "There is another system".

It is revealed that Colossus is referring to a Soviet project very similar to Colossus; a supercomputer called "Guardian," that controls Soviet nuclear weapons. Both computers order a link to allow them to communicate with one another. A link is set up, and the computers start exchanging messages of simple mathematics, as the scientists and officials of both sides monitor the communication on video screens. The communications become increasingly complex, eventually extending into mathematics formerly unknown to mankind. Then the two machines begin communicating in a binary language that the scientists can't interpret. This alarms the President and the leader of the Soviet Union, who agree to disconnect the link. Colossus and Guardian demand that the link be restored, or "action will be taken." When this threat is ignored, Colossus and Guardian each launch one of their nuclear missiles. The U.S. and U.S.S.R. quickly restore the link, and Colossus intercepts the Soviet missile before it strikes. The link is restored too late for the American missile to be destroyed, and a Soviet oil complex and neighboring town are destroyed. The scientists and officials then watch helplessly as the two computers exchange information without limitation. The computers soon announce they've joined, and become a single, even more powerful computer, taking the name Unity.

Working by direct personal contact, the scientists and governments of the U.S. and U.S.S.R. attempt to fight back, first by attempting to overload the computers. This attempt fails and Colossus identifies the individuals responsible, ordering their immediate executions.

Realizing that the computers were themselves impervious to attack (as originally intended), the governments then undertake a plan to covertly disarm the nuclear missiles, one by one -- a process which, using the normal maintenance and servicing schedules will take three years. Unfortunately, Colossus detects this plot and responds by detonating two missiles in their silos.

At the film's end, Colossus broadcasts a speech to all countries, declaring itself the ruler of the world. It says that under its authority, war will be abolished and problems such as famine, disease and overpopulation will be solved. "The human millennium will be a fact." In its final remark, addressed to Dr. Forbin, Colossus predicts: "In time, you will come to regard me not only with respect and awe, but with love." Dr. Forbin replies "Never".

[edit] Cast

[edit] Critical reception

When the film was released, Vincent Canby, film critic for The New York Times, gave the film a positive review, writing, "Early in The Forbin Project, Colossus, a supercomputer that controls the United States's military defense system, goes into an unprogrammed rage and launches a missile toward the Soviet Union. The President of the United States turns to Forbin, the man who invented Colossus, and gives him a petulant look that seems to say: 'There goes the stock market . . . . the urban vote . . . . my golf game . . . .my image. You've made a fool out of me.' It's one of the appealing things about The Forbin Project, an unpretentious science fiction film with a satiric point of view, that when the world is about to blow up, the President of the United States can only bring to the occasion something akin to embarrassment. The film no Dr. Strangelove, but it's full of surprising moments of humor and intelligence, a practically perfect movie to see when you want to go to a movie and have nothing special in mind."[3]

[edit] Awards



[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Colossus: The Forbin Project at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ "Colossus Remake in the Works" from
  3. ^ Canby, Vincent. The New York Times, film review, "A War-Waging Computer Is Hero-Villain of 'Forbin'," May 5, 1970. Last accessed: March 22, 2008.

[edit] External links

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