HBO has finally announced the premiere date of its long-anticipated science fiction ‘techno-thriller,’ TV series Westworld. The date of premiere is set on October 2. The series is being created by Jonathan Nolan (renowned screenwriter and the younger brother of filmmaker Christopher Nolan) and his wife Lisa Joy. Westworld is a television remake of the 1973 film by the same name that was written and directed by well-known American author Michael Crichton. Here is everything that you could possibly want to know about the soon-to-be-here Westworld TV series.
Warner Bros had plans to remake Westworld for big screen, but nothing came out of it. In 2011, the concept was again taken up, but it was HBO who planned a television update of the film, with Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy credited as creators. In November 2014, the premiere date was set in 2015. It was pushed again to 2016, possibly because of budget and scripting problems, with a teaser released in 2015 announcing the premiere year.
Jonathan Nolan has assisted his elder brother Christopher in some of his biggest projects (The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and Interstellar), and has delivered the goods. Expect no less in Westworld. JJ Abrams, he of Star Wars, is one of the producers. Knowing HBO, there isn’t going to be any stinginess in the budget and production values are as usual going to be top notch. The show is already notorious for his mega budget. Judging by the trailer, it does justice to the money. Westworld looks impressively epic.
German-Iranian composer Ramin Djwadi has composed the background score for Westworld. He also compose for HBO’s own Game of Thrones, and has worked previously on Hollywood films like Warcraft and Pacific Rim.
Westworld (1973) was noted for its special effects and earliest use of digital image processing. ‘Westworld’ in the title alludes to one of the three ‘worlds’ in an adult amusement park called Delos. For a fee of $1000 one could experience the realistically built three ‘worlds’ – medieval Europe, Roman Empire, and the Wild West aka Westworld – populated by androids equipped with highly advanced artificial intelligence. An ‘infection’ among the androids causes them to go berserk, causing disaster.
Michael Crichton evidently had a predilection for theme parks utilising sophisticated technologies which went catastrophically wrong. In short, in Crichton’s stories technology comes back to bite you — whether it’s the recalcitrant androids in Westworld or genetically engineered Tyrannosaurus rex wreaking mayhem in Jurassic Park (which inspired the better known Steven Spielberg blockbuster).
Since the HBO remake, described as “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin” is based on Crichton’s film, the basic premise will certainly be similar. The creators obviously have expanded the story, considering the medium of telecast, with deeper exploration of the themes of Crichton’s classic. I expect more focus on artificial intelligence and its caveats – a subject Nolan has dealt with it in another of his creation: CBS’s Person of Interest.
Westworld might have had dubious journey from conception to premiere (the television remake was first thought up in 1990s), but its cast should just sway you in its favour. Welsh veteran acting legend Anthony Hopkins leads the cast of Westworld as the head of the theme park.
Evan Rachel Wood, who has worked with HBO before in True Blood, plays Dolores Abernathy, one of the androids who discovers her whole life is an “elaborately constructed” lie, in the fashion of the Truman Show.
Ed Harris, who also worked in Truman Show, plays the ‘Man in Black’, apparently “the distillation of pure villainy into one man,” quite possibly the Gunslinger equivalent from the original film who goes on a rampage killing everybody his gaze falls upon.
Nudity and violence
For a network like HBO that has shows like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones in their repertoire, that a show that isn’t even released is in controversy for its sexual violence is still surprising. Evan Rachel Wood’s character Dolores Abernathy is being shown sexually exploited in the trailer, due to which the showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy found themselves defending the sex and violence in Westworld on a panel. So you can safely expect a goodly amount of both sexual and other kind of violence. But if you were able to digest those graphic scenes in Game of Thrones, then you should endure everything in Westworld easily.
Westworld looks huge. HBO certainly don’t compromise. To give you an idea of its epic scale, I quote one of its creators Jonathan Nolan: “Nothing that I have done prepared me for the sheer avalanche.. The truth is, what we’re doing there is a 10-hour movie. It’s not really a TV series. When they say ‘It’s not TV, it’s HBO,’ they’re really not kidding. We’re doing a period Western, and a science fiction. Basically, we’re shooting ‘Alien,’ ‘Days of Heaven’ and ‘Unforgiven’ simultaneously, and then cutting them all together … It’s just a massive, massive undertaking.”