WORLD ON A WIRE ***** West Germany 1973 Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder 204 mins
You may not have heard of WORLD ON A WIRE but its themes and its influence on films like THE MATRIX, BLADE RUNNER and tv series like WESTWORLD can be seen. Beautiful looking sets that would make Stanley Kubrick weep with jealousy are seen throughout this dystopian sci-fi epic from 1973. Is reality what we are living right now or are we mere puppets in a simulation being viewed on by those in the real world? That is the overall theme of this movie as we follow Fred Stiller (Klaus Löwitsch) the newly appointed director of the project computer Simulacron, a machine so powerful it can make a fully featured simulated reality.
The simulated reality can be jumped into momentarily with the help of a computer headset allowing him to see the world that is created within Simulacron. As he tries to make sense of why people he knows existed no longer do and others don’t remember details that he remembers so vividly, other members of the project begin to think Fred is losing grasp on this reality. It is when he becomes too close to the truth that his life becomes in danger and Fred must find a way to break free from the project and his current reality. Originally premiering on West German tv as a two part mini-series in 1973 it wouldn’t be until the early 2000’s that a wider audience would get to see this fascinating sci-fi thanks to new home releases of the mini-series. Rainer Werner Fassbinder directed this sci-fi which features fascinating characters played wonderfully by a huge array of stars of yesteryear and thats what makes this feel so surreal as a casual audience wouldn’t recognise the majority of the cast. Fantastic locations and brilliant use of camerawork add even more value to the mini-series. WORLD ON A WIRE is adapted from the novel Simulacron 3 by Daniel F. Galouye, a book which would later get made into another film in 1999 known as THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR. So many themes of the movie be it scientific, political or otherwise are still relevant today (some would say more so) so it is fantastic that WORLD ON A WIRE is now reaching a wider audience who can enjoy the two part mini-series, and ponder the question: are we all part of a giant simulation?
Review by Peter ‘Witchfinder‘ Hopkins