Thursday, 19 June 2008

EIFF: Mechanical Love - Review by Guest Contributor Peter Gerard

Director: Phie Ambo
Running Time: 79 mins
Sun 22 Jun, 20:40
Filmhouse 3

The Japanese believe that seeing your doppelgänger is an omen of death. Still, Japanese scientist Hiroshi Ishiguro built a life-like robot version of his four-year-old daughter and introduced her to herself. Four years later, Daddy convinces his daughter to meet the robot version of himself. When the robot asks the 8-year-old to touch him, she refuses. Phie Ambo gained unique access to film this meeting and carefully probes Ishiguro about his efforts to create "sonzai kan" (a feeling of the presence of life) in a robot. Ambo's subtle examining approach opens the philosophical questions about robots often ignored in our rapidly developing technology-obsessed culture.

Ambo's documentary also follows Frau Körner, an elderly German lady who has developed an emotional relationship with a robotic seal. Her awareness of the fact that it is a robot seems to be teetering on the edge as she grows to love and care for the cooing and vibrating £3,500 therapeutic robot. Again, Ambo's access and approach bring us into some uncomfortable situations that raise further questions about relationships - real and imagined.

Though a touch slow at times, the film offers an engrossing yet delicate look into what the inevitable descendent of the Tamagotchi has become.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

His daughter was six, not four.