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Dr. Easy

A robot with medical training is sent to negotiate a dangerous situation.

2013 | 5 - 10 | Robot | Special FX | Thriller | UK

Dr. Easy  was adapted from the first chapter of Red Men, a dystopian novel by Matthew De Abaitua. The book narrates the story of Nelson Millar, a former editor of a magazine that has many similarities with Vice, who is now working for Monad, an ultra-modern society that uses the resources of a powerful artificial intelligence (Cantor) for  the most  disparate purposes. Part of this A.I. is installed in robots that are mostly used for safety reasons. There are two types: the Dr. Easy – featured in the short – that are benevolent, designed to inspire trust and reassurance, and Dr. Hard, threatening and violent, aimed at terrorizing  crowds to maintain order. Monad, however, goes beyond this, and being able to scan the thoughts and qualities of human beings through Cantor, ends up creating virtual avatars of real people, the Red Man of the title, to perform socio-economic experiments…

But let’s get back on topic: we are in Hackney, and hundreds of armed police officers surround a house, under the suspicion that there’s  a terrorist inside. Dr. Easy is sent in as a doctor and negotiator. He’ll find Michael, a desperate and out of control man, who’s unable to speak due to an injury suffered in a firefight, and seems very close to suicide. The robot tries to calm him down, he begins to heal his wounds, tries in every way to reason with him, being able to understand his motivation through the scan of his thoughts. The result, however, is not what everybody hoped for.

Robots have always been among the most recurring figures in science fiction: from Isaac Asimov on, writers and directors have featured them in their own stories. We’re probably used to seeing artificial intelligence and androids revolt against mankind, but this is not the case. Here, it’s the man that’s out of control, while the robot tries to keep the situation  under control (and in the end it will not be possible, because human emotions  flee the logic and rationality of a machine, however sophisticated it may be).

Although Dr. Easy has been designed to look  docile and inspire trust and empathy, in fact it is very clear that this robot is a droid with no real emotions. The directors immediately warn us of the difference between machine and man, and decide to do so visually, with a very simple idea: the cops follow the movements of the robot through a video stream that shows what he sees from inside the building. The  sight of Dr. Easy is disturbed and full of glitches, it has nothing to do with the human eye, reminding us that it is something different from us. All his attempts to reason with the desperate assassin will prove useless, as human irrationality and artificial intelligence will not find a common ground.

The  visually powerful short  was directed by British artist collective Shynola, that was founded by Chris Harding, Richard Kenworthy and Jason Groves in the 90s. The group is well known in the world of videomaking, having directed commercials, titles and important music videos for bands such as Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age, UNKLE and Beck.

Dr. Easy was produced by Warp Films  with Channel 4, two true giants for everything related to creativity and innovation in the field of motion pictures. The special effects were made by Jellyfish, the company that also worked on the wonderful Jonah, that we featured some time ago.

The short  is intended to be the “prologue” for a feature film that Shynola hope to make by adapting Matthew De Abaitua’s novel in its entirety.

Flavia Ferrucci

Flavia Ferrucci

Flavia Ferrucci

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