Čapek’s R. U. R. is back in a fresh new production which could conquer the world again one hundred years on.
Karel Čapek’s play R. U. R. or Rossum’s Universal Robots (1920), famous for giving us the word robot (apparently suggested to Karel by his brother, Josef), was written in 1920. Kateřina Čupová stays true to Čapek’s story and transfers the original stage settings into comic bubbles. We find ourselves on the island where Rossum has his factory for building robots. The artificial beings, at first sight indistinguishable from humans, are the creators’ dreams come true. Rossum, the factory founder, wanted to “scientifically dethrone God” and “destroy the slavery of labour” for future generations, creating a free and independent humanity. The robots, used more and more by indolent people for military ends, become infected with human resentment, rebel against their makers and destroy humanity.
Although this science-fiction social dystopia may appear somewhat simplistic to today’s readers, this graphic-novel adaptation provides it with new energy. Kateřina Čupová’s artistic treatment suggests a certain affinity with Frankenstein’s monster. We can visit areas where Čapek’s scenery directions can’t take us, and this incredibly detailed depiction of the island microcosm reminds us of Lang’s Metropolis (1927).