Brian and Charles – it’s Alive!
What happens when you mix down to Earth British humour with a hint of sci fi adventure? You get Brian and Charles - following a quirky inventor from a small Welsh village who creates a robot friend in his garage, this movie is less Black Mirror and more Wallace and Gromit.
From Marvel movies to cerebral indie hits, sci fi films are everywhere nowadays. And though you might think of AI focused stories as a recent phenomenon, you can find them in movies as early as Fritz Lang’s 1920s masterpiece Metropolis and the little-known Bela Lugosi serial The Phantom Creeps from 1936. You can even argue that Frankenstein is an example of an AI narrative, with humanity using scientific advancements to jumpstart life. However, it’s fair to say that these earlier works have something in common: the robots, if not evil, are at least a little intimidating.
"Metropolis has the golden art deco Maria, The Iron Giant has its gentle behemoth saving the world, and Brian and Charles has a mannequin with ‘a washing machine for a tummy’."
Nowadays, we have a lot more variety in our robot and AI storytelling, from kids’ classics like WALL-E to romances like Her. But even among these examples, Jim Archer’s lovable directorial debut Brian and Charles is cut from a different cloth, choosing small scale, light-hearted fun and a heart-warming friendship over the more grandiose stories you might have come to expect. Following a quirky inventor from a small Welsh village who creates a robot friend in his garage, this movie is less Black Mirror and more Wallace and Gromit.
The key to any great robot movie is the design of the automaton, and you can usually tell a lot about the tone of the movie from the look of the robot. Metropolis has the golden art deco Maria, The Iron Giant has its gentle behemoth saving the world, and Brian and Charles has a mannequin with ‘a washing machine for a tummy’. It’s this hilarious design that serves as the heart of the film – watching Chris Hayward as Charles waddle awkwardly from place to place, whether it’s the focus of the scene or not, is always a treat.
If you’re looking for a playful take on an AI narrative, check out the modern fairy tale of Brian and Charles at The Dukes this week – come for Charles’ boiled cabbages, stay for the unlikely friendship between a man and his washing machine golem.
For show times and booking info click here