‘Robot Dreams’: a beautiful song to a lost friendship and a city | Culture


Without words, tender, wise, adult and childish. Said like this it seems easy, but Robot Dreams, the fourth feature film by Bilbao director Pablo Berger, is a complex artistic achievement: an animated film that refers to characters with simple lines and pure, deep emotions. A story about a dog, a robot and a city that transports the viewer to a place that Berger evokes with inspired melancholy.

Dog is a dog who lives alone in Manhattan in the 1980s and one day decides to buy a robot to have company. Loneliness was always especially hard in the city that doesn’t sleep, where Berger lived for a decade. In this environment, the dog and the toy will discover a happy and loyal friendship that will be forged to the rhythm of September, disco funk hit of the group Earth Wind & Fire, and of a New York that Berger reconstructs through the pop iconography of an era that is resurrected full of nostalgia: from the interior of the apartment where the central character lives to the street and its fauna, and from the subway to the beach where the drama of this delicate and beautiful story will unfold.

Despite being an animated film, Robot Dreams It’s not that far from Berger’s first two features. There are no dialogues or words, although there is sound, like Snow White (2012), and retro, like his debut film, Torremolinos 73 (2003). But above all it demonstrates Berger’s creative heterodoxy, that way of going it alone that unites all of his projects.

The New York of 'Robot Dreams'
The New York of ‘Robot Dreams’

The drawings of Robot Dreams They are endearing, they have magic, humor and feeling. Drawings that connect details of popular culture that flourished and disappeared during that era—such as the Tab cola can, a Naranjito sports bag, or the ubiquitous boombox from the times of break dance—, with classic cinematographic references, such as the lonely Charlot and The Wizard of Ozwhose yellow brick road will be transformed into a Busby Berkeley-style floral choreography with a robot impersonating the tin man and with the Twin Towers in the background, crowning the false mirage of the promised land of Oz.

Minimalist in its form, like the four lines of drawing of the passage of the little birds that are born next to the robot on the beach, Robot Dreams The candidness of his illustrations and the fetishism of his nostalgia lead to something as profound as the feelings of loneliness and abandonment and that inability to erase from a city the traces of the people who made us happy in it. Places and melodies to New York rhythms from the eighties, from soul or sauce. Although the heart of the strange couple belongs to September and its famous introduction: “Do you remember?”

That’s what it’s about Robot Dreamsto remember, even if it hurts: an old friendship, an old city, an analog world that dealt with loneliness in its own way and, as always, a song that ties it all together.

Robot Dreams

Address: Pablo Berger.

Gender: drama. Spain, 2023.

Duration: 102 minutes.

Premiere: 6th of December.

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