Tempting to think it might be an acronym like LASER (Light Amplification through Stimulated Emission of Radiation), the word is actually Czech, and means simply worker or slave.
Zombie-like in cadence and mannerisms. Slow, ponderous and unswerving in their loyalty to their maker.... and paradoxically ready to run amok and kill their maker at the drop of a hat, is perhaps how we see the classic robot. But the image, role and perception of the robot has changed myriad times through sci-fi history. One thing though, has always remained a constant for me. Some are cool, some are cute, some are even humourous. But they are all.... CREEPY. Brrrrr... (shiver)
To illustrate my feelings here starts the Top 5 Creepiest Robots countdown.
Now I suppose the first of movie's creepy robots has to be Maria from Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927), but then again every single character from every black & white movie from the 1920s is creepy. Those silent, googley-eyed, actors, with their over-the-top physical gestures and the camera speed giving their movements a frantic, jittery air of the maniacal is enough to creep out the person who knitted Freddy Kreugers sweater.
The imposing and impenetrable, mute, brute, Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) is another example. Klaatu Barada Nikto. I hear you say. A phrase that would echo down through cinema history. Toys, Army of Darkness, Tron are a few films which make use of the (para)phrase.
Now Im going to get in so much trouble for my first entry at No.5 in the Creepiest Robots countdown.
Hell, I may even get death threats.
C-3PO. There I said it.
But this is one uncle I wouldnt leave alone with my kids.
Having a camp robot is creepy enough, but there are times when his neurotic campness just spills over into Creepsville. The fact that he walks like Peggy Bundy doesnt help either. And he constantly wears that expression of mild alarm. Like that of a post-pooper whose finger has just breached the integrity of some cheap toilet paper.
Then to have him walking around (ro)bot naked with all his bits and workings showing in the prequel, like some wierd and shameless naturist was the vertiable LED on the circuit board.
And God only knows what happened in that cramped, little escape pod on the way down to Tatooine.
There you have it. Creepy Robot No.5 - C3PO
Tune in to my next blog as we get even creepier!
Big D out.