While most reviews of Ex Machina (2015) reference Frankenstein, none that I read unpacked the idea fully. Here I want to focus on the character of Nathan Bateman, played by Oscar Isaac, and how he compares to the archetype of the mad scientist.
Just as Dr. Victor Frankenstein, Nathan isolates himself from society and hides away in his research facility. He has a sole companion and servant – though trade hunchback gravedigger Fritz for android concubine Kyoko. And he dedicates himself fully to his work, the work of gods: creating life.
Victor Frankenstein’s first words upon reanimating his monster: ‘Oh God! Now I know what it feels like to be God.’ It makes sense then that his creation is constantly compared to Adam, the first man. Nathan takes the baton from his predecessor and endows his own artificial intelligence with sexuality, creating Ava (an Anglicised version of Eve) – the first woman.
Nathan playfully alludes to his godlike status when misquoting a remark made by Caleb, employee and human component of the Turing test, “I’ll never forget it, you turned to me and said ‘You’re not a man you’re a god.'” (more…)
The icon of the scientist brings to mind an image that has been built and maintained by all types of media. We’re used to seeing a stern-faced, spectacled man in a white coat carrying a clipboard and looking important, but this doesn’t really tell us much about what they do.
Science breaks down into many disciplines, each of which has their own focus and specialities – so it is no wonder that the image many of us are used to seeing on screen may not accurately capture what a scientist’s job really entails. Here is a list of some of the more fantastical myths about what the scientist does and how they compare to reality. (more…)
Science and scientific values have long been denounced in cinema, shown to be a product of an egocentric personality that is somehow less human than others. In the last decade there has been an ongoing trend that is fighting against this representation – beginning to subvert stereotyped characters and narratives that promote the alienation of science. Although this light-spirited backlash has experienced an increasing popularity, there still remains in Hollywood the stereotyping and vilification of the scientific mind. A Dangerous Method and Hysteria, both released this year, appear to demonstrate a subtle undermining of scientific values that harks back to the classical opposition in Hollywood.