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World on a Wire - Virtual Reality Scene

More than 25 years before The Matrix there was World on a Wire. Scene look familiar?

Long before The Matrix, there was Welt am Draht / World on a Wire, a relatively obscure made-for-TV Sci-Fi Film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. In 2010 the film was given a rebirth of sorts when it showed at the 60th Berlinale Film Festival and subsequently released on DVD for the first time.

The parallels to The Matrix were so obvious I was surprised to find no mention of the film on the Wikipedia influence page. I don’t wish to attack the Wachowski brothers for ripping from this film, rather give credit where it’s due. For all I know the Wachowski Brothers might not have ever heard of World on a Wire. In just about all cases though, the influences of art can be traced to some previous source, and World on a Wire is no different as it was based off of the American author Daniel F. Galouye’s book Simulacron-3.

I won’t spoil World on a Wire for you, however, I’ll briefly note some of the similarities. Both films revolve around a protagonist who finds himself in two realities, one being virtual. The films have utopia/distopia themes that draw heavily from Greek philosophy. Finally, both are visual masterpieces, and in the case of World on a Wire, quite amazing for the early `70s.

For its dystopian nature World on a Wire reminds me of Network and Rollerball, although I find it superior. Many of the scenes are downright creepy, yet visually stunning, especially the sets. Although Fassbinder was not a Sci-Fi director, I highly recommend this film if you are a fan of the genre, and if you’ve never seen a Fassbinder film, let it be your introduction. Click here for the trailer.

Category: Film

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