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Westworld

Westworld (1973)

When I first saw Westworld it was on a double bill with its sequel Futureworld when that movie was released in 1976.  At the cinema where I saw them both, there was only the poster for Futureworld on display, so I didn’t see this particular gem until quite some time after.  Given the disparity between the two movies – and an audience that consisted of myself and three others – maybe my hometown’s long-defunct ABC cinema should have gone with this poster instead.

There’s a lot going on here, from the faceless man at the control panel with all its futuristic dials and buttons, to the monitor screens that show images of Richard Benjamin and James Brolin, a saloon, and what looks like the Gunslinger (Brynner), this glimpse of what happens behind the scenes at Westworld is intriguing for its combination of humans and technology, and gives rise to the question, which one is in control?  For standing over the control panel is the Gunslinger, a figure that bears ominous signs of damage and proves itself to be a robot, Brynner’s face slid aside to reveal the circuitry beneath the façade.  It’s an arresting visual conceit, and one that is reinforced by the bullet wound in the robot’s torso, the combination of blood and wiring adding to what is already amiss about the character.

The extended tag line is well constructed too, with its underlining of the word anything, the implication all too clear, and the clever misspelling and debasement of the last word, an expressive augury of what will happen in the movie, and how anything can and will become too terrible to imagine.  It supports the central image of the implacable Gunslinger, and adds a further layer of threat – not that’s it really needed.  And then there’s the title,  bold and expressive in red, cutting across the image with authority, actually drawing attention away from the imagery and the text, the strongest component of a poster that draws the eye to it with calculated ease.

Agree?  Disagree?  Feel free to let me know.

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