After j-CATION and having lunch at Mr. K’s (one of the best Chinese restaurants in Manhattan), yesterday I went to MoMA Film to see Gosfilmofond’s copy of the 1935 USSR film Loss of the Sensation (87 min.), directed by Aleksandr Andriyevsky.

Virtually unseen in the U.S., Andriyevsky’s liberal film version of Karel Capek’s popular 1920 play, R.U.R. (in which the notion of robots was introduced), the movie tells the story of Jim Ripple, an engineer, who invents robots controlled by saxophones and radio signals. As far as the capitalists are concerned, this is the “solution to the proletarian problem”, and they immediately hit on the idea of creating an army of emotionless fighting machines. Jim’s brother Jack is a workers’ leader and organises strikes against the robots, who will produce nothing but unemployment. After an accident when trying to bring them together, the humanoid machines are set on the strikers, but the workers fight back …

Although Marx’s “class struggle” mixed with Stalinist propaganda messages permeate much of the quite simplistic plot of the film, Jim Ripple’s character carries all the complexities and dilemmas that we are still wondering today in regards with technology, humanity, capitalism, production, power… An excellent film that makes you think.