It’s 2045, and a lone robot orbits Earth in a spaceship, left there by his human companions. He longs for his home on Earth, but knows he’ll never see it again. Tragic, huh? This is the story of Robbie, a sentient Catholic robot, and the subject of the short film Robbie from director Neil Harvey.
The film is constructed entirely from archival NASA footage and edited together by Harvey. It’s a poignant reflection on life, death, friendship, and abandoned automatons. The story is told through the eyes of the protagonist, a robonaut built by NASA, whose slow, sad, mechanical voice narrates this sorrowful tale of sentience, departure from Earth, and then his eventual marooning in space. It’s made all the more compelling through the use of found footage, which adds to its realism.
The brooding music maintains an air of melancholy, but Harvey says his own reading of it wasn’t as a sad story but rather “uplifting, perhaps even celebratory.” It’s more meditative than celebratory, perhaps, but it’s gripping and powerful. And nearly as heartbreaking as Bambi’s mum getting shot.
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