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1 Too Many on Saturn 3🪐

by: Greta Hammen

The first scene of Saturn 3 (1980) shows a man in uniform and helmet going into a locker room setting. He secures himself into a seat with seatbelt and pulls the emergency lever. The ceiling opens up and the other man in room, Captain James, is sucked out and broken into pieces. The bad guy that did this was Captain Benson, because he wanted to be the lead man going to Saturn 3, instead of his colleague. He took a long cylinder, that contained empty brain matter, in a sealed case with him on his trip to Saturn 3.

On Saturn 3 lived a couple of scientists, Adam (Kirk Douglas) and his female partner, Alex (Farrah Fawcett). Benson (Harvey Keitel) arrived and immediately began making overtures to Alex, who made it clear that she was with Adam and was not interested. Benson got to work on programming the brain that he brought with him and on assembling the robot called Hector. Hector was able to mimic the thoughts and moves of Benson, who had a control portal at the top of his spine. He would insert a pen shaped tool into the opening to make adjustments that directly affected the robot. Intelligence was the first thing observed in Hector, but as time passed the negative aspects of the programmer began to surface. He started to lust after Alex and also showed aggressive tendencies. Robot Hector killed Alex’s and Adam’s dog, Sally, who had full rein to go about as she pleased on Saturn 3. Hector lifted Alex up by her wrists and would have harmed her, but he obeyed her command to please put her down, then he made a piece of equipment fall on Benson. Hector needed to be recharged, but that was thwarted, and Benson disassembled him limb by limb and took his brain out. It looked like danger was out of the way, but Hector had enough juice in his mind to take control of the robots in the command center to put him back together again.

Benson tried to take Alex back to earth with him. She did not want to be with him. There was some fighting and terrorizing by Hector and Benson. Hector broke Benson’s hand off and later Benson’s severed head was on top of Hector, making his appearance more human. Adam knocked Hector into the ice water by using an arm mechanism that swung out 5′ or 6′. Benson had put one of the small control portals at the base of Adam’s spine when Adam was unconscious, due to taking a sleeping pill, in order to take over his thoughts and life. Adam was not going to accept that fate and hid two grenades in his belt. He said, “It’s everybody’s fault” and then pushed Hector into the ice water again, but this time he went with him and blew both himself and Hector up. At the end, Alex was in a space craft heading to earth and eager to see all that it offers., as she always wanted to visit earth.

The line “It’s everybody’s fault” reveals the impact of AI in our lives and the collective responsibility to handle it with caution. Let us be careful what we create! Saturn 3 is a mesmerizing blend of sci-fi effects and retro graphic story telling that somehow even manages a recreational rocket trip to Saturn seem mundane.

Produced and directed by Stanley Donen, story by John Barry, and music by Elmer Bernstein

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Author: Greta Hammen

Hello, I am a senior at UMW in Communications & Digital Studies. Marketing is my passion and I am looking forward to a promising career in increasing a business's income!

4 thoughts on “1 Too Many on Saturn 3🪐

  1. Normally I’d think saying “It’s everybody’s fault” was a way of shirking responsibility, but sometimes we do have collective responsibilities. I appreciate your choice of films, because I am not familiar with this one, even though it seems like something I should have seen along the way.

  2. You give a really nice summary of the film Saturn 3, one I have not seen before, but after reading this I am intrigued. It’s interesting how much the Frankenstein narrative of creating our own monsters who eventually lead to our undoing is a big theme in the science fiction in general, but AI in particular.

    I wonder what Doctor Oblivion thinks about this film, and if he has any themeatic recommendations you cna add to your final, summative sentence:

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