In the desert there is a robot traversing the harsh, desolate wasteland in search of its creator. Sand is gathering in his knee joints and the sealant in his knee joints is gone; it’s only a matter of time before his legs break down. ‘We Were Not Made For This World’ is an amazing short film directed by Colin West McDonald and is also the second film in The Robot Scriptures trilogy. The three part series aims to create narrative films which discuss “the origin, evolution, and exodus of artificial intelligence”. The film is centered on a robot’s introspective journey through a harsh environment as it, like humans, seeks to answer the question: Why am I really here?
The journey the robot takes is both necessary and pointless. Without the journey the robot has no purpose and is merely another machination devoid of life, forever destined to repeat the same actions without questions. The robot’s decision to leave its primary directive and flee into the desert to search for its origin earns the scorn of the other machines:
“His coworkers at The Assembly had clicked and hissed at him when he said he’d leave.”
The Robot found it impossible to accept that there was not more to life than the primary directive and likewise the other robots found him impossible to accept. What I find fascinating about this particular line is that the robot’s decision to leave gave additional purpose, if only temporary, to the other workers at The Assembly; their objection to his decision and subsequent exiling go beyond their initial programming. Perhaps this is a nod at how we have the ability to make tiny impacts on the lives of others through non-conventional means.
“He is sharply aware he may not reach his destination, if such a destination even exists. He wonders if he and the Assembly were designed such that they could never successfully escape the city.”
Having watched the film no less than ten times, it began to film me with a sense of dread. As if each time spent sitting at my desk watching the film was wasting away the seconds I could be spending finding some greater purpose or discovering something new about myself. That’s when I had a minute epiphany – The failing use of the robots legs isn’t actually the failing use of the robot’s legs; it’s just another way to tell the time. The beautiful sound design turns the squeaking noise of the robot’s breaking joints into the tick-tock of an ever-present clock. All things must end no matter whether they are digital or analogue, organic or inorganic — all things must come to a conclusion — the only thing that varies is what represents the time in-between.
“Sand gathers in his knee joints at 16 to 32 granules a second, depending on the wind speed. 8 to 10 are forced out by the still functioning internal defenses, but clearly, this leaves accumulation.”
Watching the robot trek through the desert is the same as watching a human go through life. Everyone seeks purpose in their ephemeral lives. We all seek validation; we all question where we came from and why we were put here on this planet. The ways in which we go about answering these questions can be wildly different, but what is the same is that with each breath we take – we are closer to death – while no closer to the answer we seek. The robot perseveres despite the obvious outcome of his journey. In a way, the moment the robot stepped outside the city walls it had already discovered its purpose. The journey each individual takes is likely the closest any of us will get to finding out why we are here.
“He modifies his walking method – taking more abbreviated steps…Now there is slightly less accumulation but still, ground is lost.”
‘We Were Not Made for This World‘ is possible the greatest Sci-Fi film of 2014, perhaps even the modern age. I was not expecting to be surprised with anything before 2015, but here I sit still in an emotional daze despite the brevity of the film. Colin worked with an amazing team so I beg you to check out his website for more information about the project as well as the credits below to see some of the great people he worked with to bring this film to life.
Directed by Colin West McDonald
Based on “We Were Not Made For This World” by award-winning cartoonist Paul Hornschemeier
Costume Designer & Robot: Tina Matthews
Narrator: Mark “Big Poppa” Stampley
Narrator Recording Mixer: Fred Bogert
Additional Foley Artist: Felix Blume
Graphic Design: Jeff Brush