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Literary Film Review: Michael Crichton’s Westworld

This month’s classic film review is an analysis of the 1973 film Westworld, a notable first in movie history

Michael Crichton published his most influential early novel, The Andromeda Strain, in 1969 while he was still in his twenties. Pleasingly, when the novel was adapted into a film two years later, Crichton was given a tour of the set by a young Steven Spielberg, who was on his first day at work as a film director. (Spielberg, of course, would later direct the film adaptation of Crichton’s Jurassic Park.)

But as well as being a writer of popular novels which lent themselves readily to film adaptation, Crichton was himself a director – most famously of Westworld, the 1973 film about an amusement park that is a re-creation of the Wild West of the 1880s. Westworld has a notable claim to fame: it was the first film to use CGI (or, more properly, digital image processing), which would become so crucial to later film adaptations of Crichton’s novels, such as Jurassic Park – another Crichton narrative about a theme park gone wrong. Read the rest of this entry

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Literary Film Review: Die Hard

This month’s classic film review analyses the ultimate Christmas film: Die Hard

Based on a little-known 1979 thriller, Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, Die Hard (dir. John McTiernan, 1988) is one of those films that many people will sit down and watch every Christmas. And why not? It’s set on Christmas Eve, and it has at its heart one of the oldest stories in the world: the triumph of good over evil. But before I review Die Hard, as is my wont with these literary film reviews, a word about the film’s literary origins.

Die Hard’s source material, the thriller Nothing Lasts Forever, was itself supposedly inspired by another movie: The Towering Inferno. When Roderick Thorp saw the film, he had a dream of a man being chased through a skyscraper, pursued by men carrying guns. The result was Nothing Lasts Forever. Read the rest of this entry

Literary Film Review: The Terminator

This month’s classic film review analyses the inaugural film in the ‘tech noir’ genre, James Cameron’s 1984 powerhouse The Terminator

‘But The Terminator wasn’t based on a novel, surely?’ I hear you protest. You’re right, it wasn’t, so what’s The Terminator doing being featured in this monthly literary film review? Well, for one, because there are notable literary precedents for James Cameron’s 1984 science-fiction thriller, even if these are not direct influences per se.

One such precedent is Vernor Vinge, whose fiction often makes reference to an event Vinge (pronounced ‘Vin-jay’) calls the ‘Singularity’, when the machines ‘become smart’ and attain a level of intelligence far in excess of the humans who made them. (Vinge’s 1981 novel True Names, published three years before William Gibson’s far better-known Neuromancer, has been called the first novel to explore the idea of Read the rest of this entry