He comes in peace

Gentle and breathtaking, The Iron Giant is a most human film

Clanking tin-pot robots go back in the cinema at least as far as the '30s, and they've been befriending little boys ever since the '50s, in movies such as Tobor the Great, The Invisible Boy, and The Colossus of New York. It's a classic daydream of American boyhood: On an episode of the TV sci-fi comedy Futurama, a robot asks the hero whether he'd want a robot for a friend, and the hero says he has wanted one since he was about 7 years old.

A boy and his robot: Hogarth and The Iron Giant go hand in hand.
A boy and his robot: Hogarth and The Iron Giant go hand in hand.

Details

Directed by Brad Bird

Screenplay by Tim McCanlies; screen story by Brad Bird

Based on the book The Iron Man by Ted Hughes

With the voices of Eli Marienthal, Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., Vin Diesel, Christopher McDonald, John Mahoney, Cloris Leachman, James Gammon, and M. Emmet Walsh

Opens August 6

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Robots have also been developing their own feelings and desires quite literally for as long as the term "robot" has existed. (The word, which is derived from the Czech robota, or "forced labor," was coined by dramatist Karel Capek for his 1921 play R.U.R., a story of a futuristic class of artificial workers seeking the right to self-determination.) In The Iron Giant, the title character realizes he was intended as a fighting machine -- "a gun," in his vocabulary -- and through Hogarth's humanizing influence he decides that he doesn't want to be a weapon. Bird and McCanlies have adapted the material in the best sense. They use the American idea that you can choose to be whatever you want as the moral of the story.

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