Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Crichton|
|Produced by||Paul Lazarus III|
|Written by||Michael Crichton|
|Music by||Fred Karlin|
|Editing by||David Bretherton|
Warner Bros. (current)
|Running time||88 minutes|
|Box office||$4 million (US and Canada rentals)|
Westworld is a 1973 science fiction-thriller film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton and produced by Paul Lazarus III. It stars Yul Brynner as an android in a futuristic Western-themed amusement park, and Richard Benjamin and James Brolin as guests of the park.
Westworld was the last movie MGM produced before dissolving its releasing company, and was the first theatrical feature directed by Crichton. It was also the first feature film to use digital image processing to pixellate photography to simulate an android point of view. The film was nominated for Hugo, Nebula and Golden Scroll (a.k.a. Saturn) awards, and was followed by a sequel film, Futureworld, and a short-lived television series, Beyond Westworld.
Sometime in the near future a high-tech, highly realistic adult amusement park called Delos features androids that are almost indistinguishable from human beings. For $1,000 per day, guests may indulge in any fantasy, including killing or having sex with the androids. Delos' tagline in its advertising promises "Have we got a vacation for you!" The androids are programmed to act in character for each of the park's three themed "worlds" — West World (the American Old West), Medieval World (medieval Europe), and Roman World (pre-Christian Rome). One of the attractions in West World is the Gunslinger (Brynner), a robot programmed to start duels. Thanks to its programming, humans can always outdraw the Gunslinger and kill it. The guns issued to the guests also have temperature sensors that prevent them from shooting each other or anything else living, but allow them to "kill" the "cold blooded" androids.
Peter Martin (Benjamin), a first-timer, and his friend John Blane (Brolin), who has visited previously, visit West World. Gradually, the technicians running Delos begin to notice problems spreading like an infection among the androids: the robots in Medieval World begin suffering an inexplicable number of systemic failures, a robot rattlesnake bites Blane, and against its programming, an android refuses a guest's sexual advances. The failures increase until the robotic Black Knight kills a guest in a sword fight in Medieval World. The resort's supervisors, in increasing desperation, try to regain control by shutting down power to the entire park, but this traps them in the control rooms, unable to turn the power back on while the robots run amok on stored power.
Martin and Blane, passed out drunk after a bar-room brawl, wake up in the West World bordello, unaware of the breakdown. When the Gunslinger challenges the two men to a showdown, Blane treats the confrontation as a typical amusement until the robot shoots and kills him. Martin runs for his life as the robot implacably follows him.
Martin flees to the other areas of the park, but finds only a panicky fleeing technician, dead guests and damaged robots. He climbs down through a manhole to the underground control area, and discovers that the resort's technicians suffocated when the ventilation system shut down. The Gunslinger stalks Martin through the corridors. Ambushing it, Martin throws acid into its face and sets fire to it with a torch. He tries to rescue a woman chained up in a dungeon, but she turns out to be an android. The burned hulk of the Gunslinger attacks him one last time before succumbing to its damage. The film ends as Martin, apparently the sole human survivor, sits down on the castle steps in a state of near-exhaustion and shock, as the irony of Delos' slogan resonates: "Have we got a vacation for you!"
Westworld was filmed in several locations, including the Mojave Desert, the gardens of the Harold Lloyd Estate, and several sound stages at MGM. It was shot with Panavision anamorphic lenses by Gene Polito, A.S.C.
In the scene when Richard Benjamin's character splashes the Gunslinger in the face with acid, Brynner's face was covered with an oil-based makeup mixed with ground Alka-Seltzer. A splash of water then produced the fizzing effect.
Digital image processing 
Westworld was the first feature film to use digital image processing. John Whitney, Jr. and Gary Demos at Information International, Inc. digitally processed motion picture photography to appear pixelized in order to portray the Gunslinger android's point of view. The approximately 2 minutes and 31 seconds worth of cinegraphic block portraiture was accomplished by color-separating (three basic color separations plus black mask) each frame of source 70 mm film images, scanning each of these elements to convert into rectangular blocks, then adding basic color according to the tone values developed. The resulting coarse pixel matrix was output back to film. The process was covered in the American Cinematographer article Behind the scenes of Westworld.
Crichton's original screenplay was released as a mass-market paperback in conjunction with the film.
Network TV airings 
Westworld was first aired on NBC television in 1975. The network aired a slightly longer version of the film than was shown theatrically or subsequently released on home video. One added scene shows a brief fly-by shot of the hovercraft zooming just a few feet above the desert floor. Previously, all scenes involving the hovercraft were interior shots only. Another additional scene later in the film features a guest in Medieval World being subjected to a torture rack.
The film has a rating of 87% at Rotten Tomatoes. Reviewing the DVD release in September 2008, The Daily Telegraph reviewer Philip Horne described the film as a "richly suggestive, bleakly terrifying fable — and Brynner's performance is chillingly pitch-perfect."
American Film Institute Lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
- Robot Gunslinger - Nominated Villain
- AFI's 10 Top 10 - Nominated Science Fiction Film
A sequel to Westworld, Futureworld, was filmed in 1976, with only Brynner returning from the original cast to reprise his Gunslinger character. Four years later, in 1980, the CBS television network aired a short-lived television series, Beyond Westworld, expanding on the concepts and plot of the second film with new characters. Its poor ratings caused it to be canceled after only three of the five episodes aired.
Beginning in 2007, trade publications reported that a Westworld remake starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was in production, and would be written by Terminator 3 screenwriters Michael Ferris and John Bracanto. Tarsem Singh was originally slated to direct, but has since left the project. Quentin Tarantino was approached, but turned it down. On January 19, 2011, Warner Bros announced that plans for the remake were still active.
Popular culture 
The episode "Itchy & Scratchy Land" of the animated series The Simpsons in which a horde of Itchy and Scratchy robots go on a murderous rampage is largely inspired by the plotof Westworld. Another episode of The Simpsons, "The Boy Who Knew Too Much" also features a parody of Westworld with Principal Skinner chasing Bart endlessly as in the film
In the film, "Iron Man 3", Tony Stark refers to the Mandarin's main henchman, Eric Savin as "Westworld" due to his shaven head and his relentless pursuit due to bio-engineering which rendered him nearly invincible.
- 'Big Rental Films of 1973', Variety, 9 Jan 1974 p19
- "Westworld". Tcm.com. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
- A Brief, Early History of Computer Graphics in Film, Larry Yaeger, 16 Aug 2002 (last update), retrieved 24 March 2010
- Friedman, Lester D. (2007). American Cinema of the 1970s: Themes and Variations. Camden: Rutgers University Press. p. 100. ISBN 0-8135-4023-2.
- "Film Score Monthly CD: Coma/Westworld/The Carey Treatment". Filmscoremonthly.com. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
- Ed Manning BlocPix
- Chapter 4: A HISTORY OF COMPUTER ANIMATION 3/20/92 (note that this article is in error about the year the film was made)
- American Cinematographer 54(11):1394-1397, 1420-1421, 1436-1437. November 1973.
- Amazon Listing for Westworld
- Variety staff (1 January 1973). "Westworld". Variety (magazine). Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- "Westworld (1973)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- Philip Horne (20 September 2008). "Westworld: DVD of the week review". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills Nominees
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains Nominees
- AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot
- "Westworld Headed Back To Screen". Empire (magazine). 12 August 2005. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- Michael Fleming (13 March 2002). "Arnold back for 'Westworld,' 'Conan' redos". Variety (magazine). Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- Sci-Fi Wire: Billy Ray Talks Westworld Remake, June 2007
- Hostel: Part II DVD commentary track.
- Kit, Borys. "EXCLUSIVE: 'Lethal Weapon,' 'Wild Bunch' Reboots Revived After Warner Bros. Exec Shuffle". The Hollywood Reporter.