There’s a marvelous turn of phrase in Michael Crichton’s Westworld that predicts our present but just pulls short of the five-letter word we now love and loathe. The 1973 movie (leaving Amazon Prime as the new HBO series approaches) depicts Delos, a cybernetic amusement park that allows punters to indulge their fantasies in three “worlds” - West World, Medieval World and Roman World. Whether you want to be a cowboy, dashing knight, gladiator or romantic queen, the robot players in each world will act out their parts no questions asked.
Behind the scenes an army of set dressers and technicians keep everything running from a set up that resembles NASA’s mission control. Everything is hunky dory except some of the robots are subject to malfunction. At first it is peripheral, but it is on the increase, more significant faults are occurring on a regular basis.
Chief Supervisor Alan Oppenheimer sums it up: “It has all the characteristics of an infectious disease.”
There is a momentary debate on machines not being living creatures and we move on to other more mechanical malfunction in paradise. There is no mention of the virus word, but jeez, is this the first movie version of a computer virus?
Of course, management decide to keep the park open with its army of incendiary tumble driers. This allows an increasing wave of malfunctions that escalate into mass slaughter and the final show down between Yul Bryner’s Gunslinger and Richard Benjamin’s holiday maker.