So HBO just released their new show 4 weeks ago. And it’s quite the special snowflake. With the same concepts as legendary anime shows like Ghost in the shell, or Psycho-Pass, this TV series looks into questions such as „what is a human?” or „what does it mean to be human?” or „can we humans be the gods of our own creations”. It’s an adaptation of the old 1973 Westworld movie. All in all, for the first 3 episodes it seems well executed and thoughtful, as evidenced by the fact that in just 3 weeks their reddit thread has 50 thousand users asking and discussing ideas and episodes from the show.
Now we’re going to take a look at the opening of the show as much as I can. The imagery is compromised of mostly match-cuts with some symbols here and there, all synced amazingly well with the music. You can watch the opening by clicking here !
The opening starts with a circular ray of light crossing over a dark-ish, what seems to be a sand dune. The light goes upward and at first glance it looks like the moon, while some of that sand dune gets illuminated and we realize that something is a bit off. The fact that this looks so much as the desert is another nag towards the main timeline of the show and the setting – the American old west.
The heavy tone of the music continues while a robot hand is seen doing something similar to preparing sewing of some sorts. Again the shot is cut fast towards the next scene where the robot arms continue sewing on some white material. We soon realize that this white material is what was shown in the first scene, and we go on this array of camera shots to see what resembles to be a horses legs.
The light fades slowly away while another circular light shows part of the horse.This is a nod to another prevalent theme of the show: automation and human evolution. At this point we realize that those mechanical arms sewed together this horse from an unknown material.
We match-cut again into a scene where the robot hand is sewing what seems to be an iris. On the iris there is a reflection of the relief of the American deserts. This is a prevalent symbol in the opening, it’s usually named to „see with the mind’s eye” and can be interpreted as thinking about a specific scene or as having only that image in mind. Basically, it can be attributed to the robots in the show, as they know and are allowed to live only in the shows wastelands. The match-cuts continue showing a pupil constricting. In my opinion, this can be interpreted as the robots that we created are left in the dark about their reasoning and existence. They are there just to entertain the guests, and are not allowed to think or be considered human in any way.
We cut again toward one of the most powerful images of the show. A robotic hand is playing the piano with amazing proficiency. This image will be explained later. The next scene are 2 robots standing together as a famous Adam and Eve painting. The implications are quite clear, we see at this point everything trough the eyes of a creator, we have become gods for these machines, implanted every single line of speech for them and programmed (taught) them how to live.
We are shown some more scenes from the creation of Adam and Eve while we match-cut from them to the piano in a greatly synced manner. The next cut we see a gun being made by the robots this time. This can be a symbol of the humans wars and their ability to still create weapons of destruction. We’re not to forget that the weapons in the show are quite special in their way. They cannot hurt humans but they always kill other robots. So we can interpret that the weapons in the show have some sort of mechanism created by us so that we (as gods) can never be hurt by them.
We match cut again backwards and forwards into the making of the gun and putting it in the hand of the robot until we get one of the more disturbing scenes of the opening. A robot face that has skin only on one half. Yet another symbol of machines and the fact that they are not humans.
As the robot hands finish their work, the opening match-cuts to one of the most intense scenes ever. Remember the hands that we talked about earlier? This time they stop playing and are slowly took away from the scene, but the piano keeps playing. This can be interpreted in a few ways, here are two of my personal favorites. The fact that the robot has took his hands away from the piano can mean that he understands that he is playing just a fake role in the process of creation, the piano has been automatic all the time and he was there just for the visual part. Or, he does no longer abide by the rules (the piano) of their maker (us) so he is trying to fight against the automatic nature of the world. The scene ends with a bright light and a dark human figure above the piano, further suggesting the fact that humans are above all these creations.
We match-cut one last time towards another mind eye representation of the American old west and we end up with another dazzling scene this time. We are shown a robot in the classic diagram drawn by Leonardo DaVinci. The human form is broken into several different examples of the Divine Proportion, and also fits perfectly within a square and circle. (Interestingly enough, this diagram was used on the original Voyager I spacecraft to exemplify human form and proportion. The Voyager I mission was a probe sent from Earth in the 1970’s to journey towards and beyond the ends of our Solar System, to send information back to us as long as it was within range, and also act as an early emissary into the Galaxy, a representative of human life, just in case. See it in the movie Star Trek I! )Leonardo’s exemplary diagram clearly illustrates our human form and the Divine Proportion working its way in the ratio of our body to legs, arms to torso, and even in the placement of our facial features.
So this item contains a mathematical pin-point of „divine light”, a physical constant or limitation that The Great Architect-Euclid, through nature, uses for structure. A clue!
So this is it, the opening is pretty hype overall with a large amount of symbols and interpretations. Do you think the show will manage to live up to the expectations? We will see :)…