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Top five robots that influenced the modern day Transformers

By Staff | Jun 23, 2009

With the upcoming release of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” many movie-goers will see a film that was not only inspired by the earlier cartoon series, but also by robots from previous films. In no particular order, here are the top five movie robots that you may or may not have known about.

• Gort, “The Day The Earth Stood Still” (1951) —Debuting in the 1951 classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” Gort is one of the most memorable pop culture icons from the Cold War era. In the film, Gort comes to Earth as the killer robot bodyguard of Klaatu, a peaceful ambassador from space. Gort emerges from the flying saucer standing at an enormous 8-feet-tall with a solid silver get-up, not to mention the ability to evaporate anything he desires with his laser-beam vision. His mission is to warn Earth to stop its destructive ways, and although he doesn’t speak, Klaatu says it best when he proclaims, “There’s no limit to what Gort could do. He could destroy the Earth!” 

• Robby the Robot, “The Forbidden Planet” (1956) —Robby the Robot first appeared in Fred M. Wilcox’s “The Forbidden Planet,” proving that not all robots are designed to do harm. In the film, Robby is built by Dr. Edward Morbius, who finds plans that were left behind in an alien computer system. The result is an extremely advanced robot that obeys Isaac Asimov’s Law of Robotics, which state a robot may not injure a human, must obey human orders and protect its own existence.      Robby the Robot never thought about anything besides helping his companions, and his charming manner is still recognized today.

• Maria – “Metropolis” (1927) — Maria is one of the first female robot characters of science fiction and one of the most powerful female iconic images in film history. She appears in Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis,” a silent film set in the year 2026 in which science has made Earth a paradise for the upper class and a hell for the working class. Maria first appears as a powerful and beautiful woman who cares for the children of the city, but soon enough, mad scientist Rudolph Klein-Rogge kidnaps her and imposes her face on a robot. This film is one of the first instances of the transformation from human to robot, which has inspired many more recent films.

• Ash – “Alien” (1979) —Ash is the science officer aboard the Nostromo in Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” He looks human enough to co-exist with the other members of the crew, but he has a hidden agenda.  After members of the Nostromo’s crew start to realize that Ash is trying to get the Alien back onto the ship for investigation, even at their expense, they confront him.  Ash is hit in the head by another crewmember, and it almost completely severs his head, revealing the fact that he is a robot. He attempts to tell the crew that they won’t survive, before he is destroyed by way of a flamethrower.

• The Iron Giant – “The Iron Giant” (1999) — The 1999 animated film “The Iron Giant” was directed by Brad Bird, who has helped develop “The Simpsons” and “The Incredibles.” This film, based off of the 1968 novel “The Iron Man,” is about a giant metal robot that falls to Earth and terrifies a small town in Maine. A young boy named Hogarth befriends the giant and tries to save him from the paranoid government that is trying to destroy him. The Iron Giant may look like a robotic killing machine, but is in fact kind and gentle. 

Contact William at wjones@graffitiwv.com