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World on a Wire

World on a Wire (1973)

So, scientists have developed a virtual reality simulation apparatus. The gubberment wants to use it to conduct population experiments and whatnot. One of the minds behind the program is on the cusp of releasing crucial info, but is knocked off before he’s able to share it with the appropriate minds. Another figurehead of the program takes it upon himself to dig deeper into a slowly unraveling conspiracy. The base novel was also the impetus for The Thirteenth Floor, which is a decent commercialized version, but the two movies are far from complementary.

After the climactic finale of the 1st part, the story slightly shifts away from its investigatory precedent. Despite losing some air of unpredictability in the 2nd part, the intrigue doesn’t lose too much steam. Our lead also doesn’t express emotion too well, but he’s good(-ish) when he slips on his poker face. Then again, that kind of applies to everyone. The lead happens to be the only one who’s histrionics are habitually called for.

The sets are uniquely elegant and hold up well for their eccentricity. The movie apparently takes place when it was released (according to my in-depth Wikipedia studies), but the tech-savvy plot and myriad unusual set pieces suggest the near future. By contrast, the outside world is grey and industrial. It gives off a sort of Kubrick vibe, especially bringing the mock-sci-fi Clockwork Orange world to mind. Also, the movie doesn’t share any aesthetic traits with film-noir, but I think the dialogue-heavy investigatory nature of the first part does bring a vague noir sense to mind.

Fassbinder doesn’t seem as adept at thriller parts as he is at deadpan drama. Those cheesy zoom-ins are straight out of a 50s b-movie, but the movie doesn’t call for them often. Obviously, Fassbinder is considered an auteur with a seriously revered output, so the histrionics make me think that he might’ve wanted to vaguely satirize thrillers as well as effectively make his own. When the excitements do show up, they are actually startling. Especially when accompanied by an almost grating synth score. It’s flawed, but great.

Watching too much Monday Night Raw.