Robocop (1987)

Viewed June 16th


When a cop on the verge of death is transformed into a deadly law enforcement cyborg, all goes according to plan until he begins remembering his identity.  

From the first moments of Robocop, director Paul Verhoeven links imagery equal parts gritty & corporate, familiar & nightmarish, into a visual world--one the viewer is cued to read, not on the level of reason/consciousness, but on the level of the unconscious. Clarity, humor, originality, and cinematic craftsmanship are all put toward communicating secret desires and archetypal image systems found in the unconscious mind. However, for the film to go beyond this initial communication with the unconscious, it has to draw the viewer deeper. For the first scenes in Robocop that deepening happens through the interconnections built out between three sub-worlds: the world of law enforcement, the world of corporate tech, and the world of crime. As we learn about the science-fiction scenario in one world, the other worlds are also built out because each has tentacles in the others. And all three are also linked by surrealist parodies of television or advertising, themselves integrated into the plot and the visual aesthetic so they never feel arbitrary. But what makes this film such a stand out is how, like the novels of Philip K. Dick, it goes beyond building out a world inspired by the viewer's unconscious, to tell a drama of the unconscious, as well. The film doesn't end when the Robocop has killed all the bad guys, it's when he's asked his name and, for the first time, is able to say that name—his true name—the one previously buried in the depths of his mind.