the mechanical man


 
Speaking of early cyberpunkish movies—another one which resides since quite a time on my according list is ‘L’Uomo Meccanico’ [‘The Mechanical Man’] (Deed 1921). Kueperpunk reminded me of it and linked to a site featuring only seven minutes of the movie on YouTube. Above is much more of it—in fact it’s all we have. IMDb knows:

For many years this early science fiction film from Italy was regarded as lost. Some reels of the Portuguese release version were discovered in Brazil. The discovered film amounted to 740 meters which is believed to be approximately 40% of the complete film. Luckily, the discovered footage came from the later part of the film and included some of the special effects and the battle of the two robots in the Opera House. By mid-2006, this is the only footage known to survive.

Those 740 meters, mostly from towards the end of the movie, you can watch above. They’re in Italian—but then again it’s a silent film. In order to be able to make sense of it, here’s the plot synopsis from Wikipedia:

The story begins with a scientist creating a device shaped like a man that can be remote-controlled by a machine. The mechanical man possess super-human speed and strength. The scientist is killed however by a gang of criminals, led by a woman named Mado, who wish to get the instructions for building the mechanical man. The criminals are captured before they are able to get them and are brought to trial and condemned. Mado manages to escape and kidnaps the scientist’s niece whom she forces to give her the instructions which she uses to build a mechanical man.
    The mechanical man is used for a variety of crimes, controlled by Mado. The scientist’s brother however is successful in creating a second mechanical man which he uses to combat the original. The two mechanical men fight each other in an opera house and end up destroying each other as well as the opera house. During the final battle, Mado frantically attempts to control the mechanical man and is electrocuted at the control panel by a short circuit.

Two scenes in ‘L’Uomo Meccanico’ reminded me of movies of our days:
 
'L'Uomo Meccanico' (Deed 1921)
When the mechanical man climbed the crenelated castle keep, carrying his victim in a cupboard, I instantaneously was reminded of the scene in Laputa: Castle in the Sky (Miyazaki 1986) [see also ↵decommissioned], when Sheeta and the robot soldier are atop the tower of the fortress:
 
Sheeta and the robot soldier atop the tower of the fortress in 'Laputa: Castle in the Sky' (Miyazaki 1986)
'L'Uomo Meccanico' (Deed 1921)
And when the mechanical man pursued the automobile my mind’s eye showed me Bonecrusher inline-skating at breakneck speed alongside a bus on the highway in ‘Transformers’ (Bay 2007):
 
Bonecrusher inline-skating in 'Transformers' (Bay 2007)
Another association of course is the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) running after the car in which Sarah (Linda Hamilton) and John Connor (Edward Furlong) together with the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) escape from the hospital in ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ (Cameron 1991). But although the T-1000 in this scene has his forearms morphed into some kind of ice-axes, he is not so mechanical …

BAY, MICHAEL BENJAMIN. 2007. Transformers [motion picture]. Hollywood: Paramount Pictures.
CAMERON, JAMES FRANCIS. 1991. Terminator 2: Judgment day [motion picture]. Culver City: Tri-Star Pictures.
DEED, ANDRÉ (aka HENRI ANDRÉ AUGUSTIN CHAPAIS). 1921. L’uomo meccanico (aka The mechanical man) [motion picture]. Milan: Milano Films.
MIYAZAKI, HAYAO. 1986. Laputa: Castle in the sky [anime]. Tokyo: Toei Company.
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