Spain 2052. It looks pretty much the same as today, but here is a world in which humanity is on its last legs and androids are out there mingling amongst the public. You can usually tell the difference between the two – humanity’s last survivors are geriatric. Anybody younger than 60 is probably a replicant.
Only probably, mind. There is an air of uncertainty on this point, much like in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, another adaptation of Philip K Dick’s story ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?‘ It’s not made absolutely clear, but it’s certainly implied.
This is a world that looks unfinished. Vast half built skyscrapers blight the landscape, as if they started construction and, on finding that the world has started falling apart, decided to give up on that and so something more interesting with their lives. It’s that contrast between the old and the new, the way things used to be done against the new order.
Meanwhile a man with a shaved head is travelling round the city bumping off replicants.You could say that he’s the Decker of this film. It seems the only clear link between the two, as this city bears no resemblance to Ridley Scott’s bleak dystopia. To be fair, 2052 will probably look very much like here and now, so it’s not a stretch of the imagination.
The irony (perhaps deliberately placed) is that there are literal sheep running around the place, but not in the vast numbers we see today. In this future world they are ridiculously expensive, four and a half million pesetas each. This is because there are few animals remaining and prices have skyrocketed as a result. To own a dog or a cat will cost you a million pesetas each. You’d be better off buying a pet rock.
Clocking in at just over an hour, Androids Dream is an interesting piece of work, despite lacking in direction and narrative clarity. Not much is given away in the dialogue, what little of it there is, and there is a heavy reliance on using the picture to tell a story. There isn’t much explanation given as to why our balding blade runner has to bump off replicants, except perhaps to clean up the world for whomever or whatever takes over next.
It seems much of Spanish or even continental cinema isn’t happy unless it has stripped away most of the narrative storytelling requirements and boiled everything down to basics. It does leave you floundering a little, trying to figure out what it is the film wants us to think. I’m of the opinion that more could have been to expand on this front, even if only by just a little. By all means, provide a low budget remake of a sci-fi classic, but do something with the story you’re trying to tell.
As it is, Androids Dream comes off as trying to be too clever for its own good. The only people truly likely to appreciate De Sosa’s efforts are those who are familiar with the source material or Ridley Scott’s 1982 film.