Normally, watching official footage of historical real events brings back memories of sitting in a history class at school, but Neil Harvey has taken the concept of found footage and created a sci-fi short film that is both mesmerizing and haunting. The short is called ‘Robbie’ and is entirely made from archival footage recorded by NASA throughout the years.
Harvey is an Australian director and editor from Sydney, Australia who created the short as an anniversary present for his girlfriend earlier in the year. He downloaded 10 hours of footage from the NASA archives and in a 2-3 month period selected shots that touched him on a personl level. He then watched the chosen footage again until narratives began developing in his mind. Thus became the creation of ‘Robbie.’
‘Robbie’ is set 6000 years in the future and chronicles the life and observations of an aging robot drifting alone through space on the last of his battery power. He leaves a message for whoever may find his “body” in the future and talks about his experiences with NASA and what happened after losing contact with Earth.
The monotone delivery and use of a robot to narrate the film only deepens the story of ‘Robbie.’ The explanation of his artificial intelligence granting him the ability to be more human by allowing him to be emotional connects the audience to Robbie far more effectively than if it were just another metal being. Hence the melancholy that is felt near the end of the short.
While not a fan of found footage as it has been used in horror films like ‘Paranormal Activity’ and ‘Apollo 13,’ the images Harvey chose to convey Robbie’s story works eloquently and accentuates the film in a novel manner.
‘Robbie’ is a fascinating and unique short film that contemplates life in all things not just human. As Harvey indicates:
“… I was certainly interested in the way we confront death and the issue of not ever waking up again. I also felt that by transposing such themes onto an AI character, it would provide a much more compelling vehicle through which to explore these ideas than if we were watching a human protagonist.
I’m not sure about anyone else, but I definitely find value in my life by occasionally thinking about how lucky I am that I was actually born at all. I guess this is why I find the film to be more cathartic than depressing.”