Fellini’s Casanova- The Dancing Doll Automaton

May 27, 2008

After watching ‘Fellini’s Casanova’ (1976) again yesterday i thought i should post it as it left me with thoughts as to what the film actually means. Specifically the dancing doll automaton and the bird automation – What did they represent?; A reflection of Casanova’s empty and mechanical soul, devoid of real love. We told by Donald Sutherland in the special feature that Fellini detested Casanova’s moral frivolity and compared him to the re-surging ‘well-to do’ scene in Rome at the time. As with other works of Fellini we are left to fill in the pieces.

The doll has definite connections with Olympia from the novel ‘The Sandman’ by E.T.A Hoffman. 1816. Jentsch and Freud used ‘The Sandman’ as the key text in their attempts to define ‘the uncanny’.

(On the psycology of the uncanny, Jenstch 1906),(The Uncanny, Freud, 1919).

Plot: 18th Century Italy. Giacomo Casanova has a reputation as a great lover. He passes through many adventures in search of passion. He meets the aging Marquise d’Urfe who wants him to impregnate her so that she can reincarnate in her child’s body, is jailed as a black magician but escapes, and enters a love-making competition held by the Prince del Brando, along with many other adventures.


80-year-old Gakutensoku robot revived

May 25, 2008

New life has been breathed into Asia’s oldest “modern” robot, an 80-year-old golden-skinned humanoid from Osaka. Gakutensoku, a 3.2 meter (10 ft 6 in) tall automaton powered by compressed air, can tilt its head, move its eyes, smile, and puff up its cheeks and chest as instructed — just as it did 80 years ago — thanks to a 20-million-yen ($200,000) computer-controlled pneumatic servo system that replaces its original system of inflatable rubber tubes.

Built in 1928 by biologist Makoto Nishimura, Gakutensoku was first exhibited in Kyoto as part of the formal celebration of the Showa Emperor’s ascension to the throne. The robot traveled to a number of expos and wowed onlookers with its mad calligraphy skills before going missing in Germany. After a long disappearance, Gakutensoku was located and later repatriated to Osaka.

The reanimated Gakutensoku will star as the main attraction at the newly renovated Osaka Science Museum beginning July 18.