R.U.R: Rossum’s Universal Robots

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On this day 82 years ago the BBC broadcast the first piece of television science-fiction ever.

On 11 February 1938 a thirty-five-minute adapted extract of the play RUR, written by the Czech playwright Karel Čapek, was broadcast live from the BBC’s Alexandra Palace studios. Concerning a future world in which robots rise up against their human masters, it was the only piece of science fiction to be produced until the BBC television service resumed after the war..

The play introduced the word robot, which displaced older words such as “automaton” or “android” in languages around the world. In an article in Lidové noviny Karel Čapek named his brother Josef as the true inventor of the word.In Czech, robota means forced labour of the kind that serfs had to perform on their masters’ lands and is derived from rab, meaning “slave”.

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The play had been referenced in several popular TV shows after it’s first broadcast in 1938.

n the Star Trek episode “Requiem for Methuselah”, the android’s name is Rayna Kapec (an anagram, though not a homophone, of Capek)

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In Batman: The Animated Series, the scientist that created the HARDAC machine is named Karl Rossum. HARDAC created mechanical replicants to replace existing humans, with the ultimate goal of replacing all humans. One of the robots is seen driving a car with “RUR” as the license plate number.

The 1999 Blake’s 7 radio play The Syndeton Experiment included a character named Dr. Rossum who turned humans into robots.

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In the 1977 Doctor Who serial “The Robots of Death”, the robot servants turn on their human masters under the influence of an individual named Taren Capel.

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In the 1995 science fiction series The Outer Limits, in the remake of the “I, Robot” episode from the original 1964 series, the business where the robot Adam Link is built is named “Rossum Hall Robotics.

In Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, when Wolff wakes Chalmers, she has been reading a copy of R.U.R. in her bed. This presages the fact that she is later revealed to be an android.

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Although the original play was written in 1920 nearly a 100 years later it is still referenced in Sci Fi shows and ganes. Currently a new movie version is in production with a release date in 2019.

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Where eagles dare- The story of Ingrid Pitt aka Heidi

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I don’t know how often I have watched this movie but it is one of my favourite war movies.It is funny though that you never really know anything about the real lives of actors or actresses. You may know something about the big stars in movies, but when it comes to the people who play the smaller parts, you just know nothing about them.

Ingrid Pitt (born Ingoushka Petrov) survived World War II and became a well-known actress on the East Berlin stage, however, she did not appear on screen until well into her twenties.

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Ingoushka Petrov was born in Warsaw, Poland, to a German father of Russian descent and a Polish Jewish mother.During World War II, she and her family were imprisoned in Stutthof concentration camp in Sztutowo, Free City of Danzignow present-day Nowy Dwór Gdański County, Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland.

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She survived, and in Berlin, in the 1950s, married American soldier, Laud Roland Pitt Jr. and moved to California. After her marriage failed, she returned to Europe, but after a small role in a film, she took the shortened, stage name, “Ingrid Pitt” and headed to Hollywood, where she worked as a waitress while trying to make a career in films.

In the early 1960s, Pitt was a member of the prestigious Berliner Ensemble, under the guidance of Bertolt Brecht’s widow Helene Weigel. In 1965, she made her film debut in Doctor Zhivago, playing a minor role. In 1968, she co-starred in the low-budget science-fiction film The Omegans, and in the same year, played British spy, Heidi Schmidt in Where Eagles Dare opposite Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.

But she was best known as Hammer Films’ most seductive female vampire ,Countess Dracula, of the early 1970s, the Polish-born Pitt possessed dark, alluring features and a sexy figure that made her just right for Gothic horror.

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She also played in “The Wicker Man” and several episodes of “Dr Who”But I will always remember her as Heidi Schmidt in “Where Eagles Dare”

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Star Wars VIII(and a half)- The forgotten one.

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With the force being bestowed upon us very soon again with the last Jedi it is a good time to look back at some of the forgotten or  lesser known Star Wars facts.

Darth Vader’s chest piece has Ancient Hebrew etched onto it. It reads: “His deeds will not be forgiven, until he merits”

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The blizzard in the Hoth scenes was real. They were shot at Hardangerjøkulen glacier near Finse, Norway, and no special effects were used.

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Qui-Gon Jinn’s communicator is actually a modified Gillette Ladies Sensor Excell razor.
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The majority of Stormtroopers are left-handed due to the construction of their prop guns. They are modeled on the Sterling L2A3 9mm SMG (sub-machine gun), a military weapon from the 1950s with the magazine located on the left hand side.Stormtrooper_Corps.png

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E.T.’s species (Asogians) appears in The Phantom Menace at a political speech in the galactic senate.
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Bounty Hunter Bossk from The Empire Strikes Back wears a costume from a 1966 Doctor Who episode.
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Many of the buildings constructed to be used in shots of Tatooine are still standing in Tunisia. In fact, some of them are still used by locals.

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Finally

Star Wars-Black Angel

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For all of you die hard Star Wars fans who think that you have seen all movies in the Star Wars universe, more then likely you have not.

A long time ago in a galaxy not so far away, in fact this galaxy.

The 1980 short film was created to accompany The Empire Strikes Back in theaters. It was the directorial debut of Star Wars‘ pioneering set decorator Roger Christian and a special request by the big man himself, George Lucas. After it screened in cinemas, it suddenly vanished.

The film was shot at Eilean Donan in Scotland in autumn 1979. The budget of £25,000 was given to Roger Christian by an Eady Scheme fund from the UK government

Sir Maddox, a medieval knight, returns from the Crusades to find his home rife with sickness and his family gone. As he journeys through this mystical realm he encounters a mysterious and beautiful maiden, who appears to him as he is drowning. Sir Maddox learns that the maiden is being held prisoner by a black knight and in order to free her he must confront her captor, the Black Angel.

Star Wars is supposedly set somewhere in arthurian times and the crusades. Dark Angel ties in with that.

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Overshadowed Historical events.

I did a blog recently about JFK and found out that the same day JFK was assassinated , the authors CS Lewis and Aldous Huxley had died. This made me wonder how more historical event were forgotten because they were over shadowed by even bigger events. Below are a few examples.

Harriet Quimby

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Although her name is nowadays remembered by a small group of people, Harriet Quimby was one of the greatest early female aviators. In 1911, Quimby became the first woman in the country to get her pilot’s license with the Aero Club of America. When she wasn’t busy flying planes recreationally, Harriet Quimby enjoyed quite a successful career in Hollywood by writing screenplays that were turned into silent shorts.

Eventually, Quimby set her sights on more ambitious projects and was soon planning a flight across the English Channel, a first for a female pilot. She completed it on April 16, 1912 by taking off from Dover and landing 59 minutes later on a beach near Calais in France. She officially became the first female pilot to fly the Channel, but her feat drew little interest from the media. It’s not that it wasn’t newsworthy, but something really big just the day before completely captured the public’s attention.

On April 15, 1912, the Titanic sank during its maiden voyage.

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Quite understandably, all other events took a backseat in the press. And unfortunately for Harriet, she didn’t get to enjoy her legacy once the frenzy around the Titanic subsided, either. Just two and a half months later, Harriet Quimby died in an accident during an aviation contest in Boston.

Dr Who

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The longest running Sci-Fi show nearly didn’t happen. Like the aforementioned deaths of CS Lewis and Aldous Huxley, the pilot episode of Dr Who had been scheduled on the 22nd of November 1963. The day of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

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The BBC did broadcast the pilot episode again a week later.

John Fairfax

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On January 20, 1969, Fairfax set off on his own from the Canary Islands in a boat. On July 19, he arrived in Florida, becoming the first person to row across an ocean solo.

Fairfax became the talk of the town, but only for a day. His bad timing didn’t allow him to bask in the adulation of the media because the very next day, something truly historic was happening. On July 20, 1969, all of humanity was watching as the Apollo 11 astronauts became the first humans to walk on the Moon.

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Steamboat Sultana

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The greatest maritime disaster in United States history occurred on April 27, 1865, when the steamboat Sultana had a boiler explosion, sinking the ship and killing an estimated 1,800 of her 2,427 passengers.

Unfortunately, another event happened across the Mississippi River: the death of President Abraham Lincoln and his assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

1959: U.S. and Soviets on Brink of War; Nobody Notices

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On Feb. 3, 1959, Soviet border guards stopped a convoy of four U.S. Army trucks headed from West Berlin, on a routine trip from the free section of the divided German capital, through communist territory to East Germany. After the Americans refused an inspection, the Soviets seized the trucks, along with five American personnel, and held them captive overnight. New York Times correspondent Arthur J. Olsen wrote this kidnapping “appeared to be a planned test” of the U.S. ability to support a garrison in West Berlin.

It took a high-level official protest from the U.S. embassy in Moscow to get the Soviets to finally release the prisoners and let their trucks through the checkpoint more than two days later

On a different day, the Soviet provocation might have dominated the newspapers. But a plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson also took off from Mason City, Iowa, and crashed, killing the rock ‘n’ roll stars and their pilot, Roger Peterson. Feb. 3 became known as “The Day the Music Died,” not a day when Cold War tensions simmered.

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Michael Chekhov

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As an actor, Michael Chekhov was probably best known for his role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound, for which he was nominated for an Oscar (Best Supporting Actor.) As an acting instructor, Chekhov wrote a book called To The Actor, which is still cited as a developmental tool by actors such as Johnny Depp today. Chekhov would count among his students such luminaries as Marilyn Monroe, Lloyd Bridges, Anthony Quinn, Clint Eastwood, Elia Kazan, and Yul Brynner. But on September 30th 1955, Michael Chekhov’s death was not even a news story compared to another person who would become associated with method acting.

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When James Dean died in a car crash on September 30, 1955, the world stopped and nothing else happened for the rest of the year. Dean was only 24, and had primarily been a television actor. Dean was starting to break through in movies though, with moving performances in East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause. It was Rebel that catapulted Dean to icon status. He had just finished work on his final film, Giant. As a symbol of eternal youth, Dean would quickly become legend. And while even Dean himself would have probably admitted that Chekhov had the more influential career, it is his death, now Chekhov’s, that still resonates to this day.

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