Film: 9849

Social History | 1980 | Sound | Colour


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A film to encourage eighties technophobes to embrace new technology. Also contains predictions (some either tongue-in-cheek or hopelessly naive) for how careers in the future will be affected by developments in science. There are some nice touches, for example having a male secretary and a female mechanic.

Titles on blank screen, set to synthesized music. Clock radio wishes listeners good morning. Bespectacled man in dressing gown, T-shirt and pyjama trousers goes to the stove and puts a kettle on to boil. Closeup on two slices of white bread as he puts them in a toaster. Two eggs being placed in a frying pan. Telephone rings. Man (Gulliver) runs into living room, and picks up the 'phone, interrupting the answerphone message as he does so. He speaks to a recruitment consultant, and is miserable because he seems unable to find a really interesting job. He looks glum. He picks up an overdue bill. He hangs up the telephone. Gulliver picks up a remote control and switches on a TV. A news report can be heard but not seen. He begins to look at a newspaper which is on the table in front of him. He circles a situations vacant advert which says, "make fast money - temporary file clerk needed". He looks up at the TV. The presenter claims that jobs like file clerk are being phased out by new technology. He crosses through the advertisement.

Closeup of kettle spout and steam rising from it. Gulliver hears the whistle and jumps up. He runs through the hallway, knocking over the ironing board on his way. The telephone rings again and he looks around in confusion, trying to decide which to go to first. Eggs on the stove begin to burn and smoke. Gulliver picks up the eggs and runs them under the tap. Closeup of answerphone taking a message. Smoke pours out of the toaster. Two charred pieces of bread jump out. Gulliver returns to the front room and plays the message. He finds he has an appointment at an employment agency who promise him an interesting job. He looks at his wristwatch and hurries out.

Cut to Gulliver in a suit walking briskly down a street. He repeatedly checks the time on his wristwatch. He arrives at the office and finds he is unable to enter the glass doors. We see him on a security camera in a different part of the office. The doors are automatically unlocked and he clumsily enters. Gulliver walks up the stairs and arrives at a reception desk with a figure seated facing away from him. The figure turns around and we see it is (ahem) a robot (well, it is someone dressed in a white suit, with a control panel glued on the front, a mask over his face and bulbous lights where the eyes should be). The robot moves with exaggeratedly jerky movements and an unconvincing sound effect. He is malfunctioning apparently. A technician appears and attaches something to the robots arm. The robot goes back to work and takes Gulliver's name. The robot puts an antenna from his finger into an intercom system to inform Mrs. Memorandum that her appointment has arrived. The robot turns away from a bemused Gulliver.

Gulliver goes into a white office. Mrs. Memorandum is seated at a desk with a stationary robot behind her. She berates Gulliver for being 47 seconds early and tells him that she must finish the interview she is already conducting. The other interviewee can only be seen on a TV screen. Gulliver backs away nervously and sits in a chair in a corner with TV screens all around him. A different robot offers Gulliver a microchip. He declines, telling it that he has already eaten (a ha-ha-ha). The robot demonstrates the function of the microchip by placing it in a computer terminal nearby. Shots of various machines that require a microchip - an electric typewriter, the TV screen linked to Tokyo, a CD player... Mrs Memorandum calls Gulliver to her desk. He hands her his resume. They discuss his interests and career aims.

Gulliver standing in a hallway marked, "Hall of Enduring Professions". Gulliver walks backwards and bumps into No 92, the musical robot. No 92 sings a song about the rewarding jobs of the future. The robot pushes Gulliver into a dark room. The robot's eyes and control panel are the only thing which can be seen. The lights return to reveal a second robot singing in harmony with the first. In the background are two men at work. A third robot appears and sings. A man works at a computer, designing an office. Gulliver sits and the three robots crowd around him. Mrs Memorandum appears and explains that the computer is making architecture easier. Mrs Memorandum takes a small, gray box and uses it to transport the group to another room. The room is supposed to be the inside of an ambulance. A patient lies on a stretcher and is scanned by a robotic arm. The signal 'condition serious' flashes up on a nearby monitor. A nurse tends to the patient. The computer gives instructions and Gulliver steps in to help. Gulliver discovers that the patient is only a model with a simulated heartbeat. The room tips to one side, to simulate the movement of a helicopter banking.

Gulliver walks through a coridoor marked "hall of Changing Professions". Robots sing. See all their legs walking past PVC tables. There are typewriters on each table, gradually becoming more modern in design until the last is fully electric. The robots push Gulliver into an office. An untidy desk sits in the centre and the male secretary rummages through a filing cabinet at the back of the room. Intercom message for secretary. He takes a phonecall, looking stressed. Gulliver and Mrs Memorandum look on. The secretary hurries off and Mrs Memorandum begins to demosntrate how electronic communication can improve the efficiency of this office. Three robots sing and do a little robotic dance. Piles of paper are replaced by computer terminals. Desk and office now looks tidy and efficient. There is much more available workspace. Secretary sits at the desk and works at the computer.

Gulliver and Mrs Memorandum are transported to another room. They appear in front of a drawing board with pictures of a car on it. Pan back to reveal a shiny, red sports car. Gulliver is very impressed, but the female mechanic calls the car a problem. She opens the door upwards (like the Delorian from the Back to the Future films, only with a clearly lower budget) and allows Gulliver to sit inside. He puts on the seatbelt and the headlights flash. He turns the steering wheel and the car speaks to him. He turns the ignition key, and the car makes a whirring noise. The mechanic raises the bonnet and puts in test equipment. On a nearby TV screen, analyses of various parts appear. They discover a defective micro-processor. Closeup on a circuitboard as mechanic places a new chip in place. Car thanks her. Gulliver and Mrs Memorandum leave and walk down a coridoor marked "Hall of New Professions".

Three robots sing and dance. The new room has black walls nad many iems of electrical equipment - computers, terminals, etc, as well as drawing boards and workstations. Gulliver and Mrs Memorandum walk around looking at each work area. Stars and the Earth seen from space. Mrs Memorandum explains to Gulliver that they are on a space shuttle. In the background, a man is seated at a control panel. There are TV screens and on the walls in front of him. She explains that his job is TV scientist. Red lights flash and the TV scientist talks to a woman who appears to be doing the same job. She gives Gulliver some instructions. The male scientist gives Gulliver a printout. Gulliver looks baffled. Gulliver's hands typing. On a TV screen, a satellite moves course. The female scientist congratulates Gulliver. Mrs Memorandum joins them and gives a rousing speech. She directs Gulliver into a matter transporter (like in Star Trek, except less original). The robots wave. Glass doors close around him. He vanishes and reappears in a telephone booth in the street.

Gulliver sits dejectedly on a bench. He moans that all his dream careers have been lost. The woman sitting next to him (who is Mrs Memorandum, except in a different wig) smiles knowingly. He walks off. He passes a computer centre without noticing. He sees a computer learning centre and looks in the window. He sees a satellite dish on a nearby wall. At a pedestrian crossing, the man next to him is the TV scientist (except wearing a different pullover). Gulliver has a bit of an epiphany and walks on cheerfully down the street. Robots can be heard singing. Gulliver arrives home and plays his answerphone messages. He has been offered a job, and flings his hands aloft jubilantly. The End.

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