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).
“The graphic-novel adaptation of Čapek’s famous play pleasantly surprises especially with unexpectedly delicate drawing.”
About the authors:
Kateřina Čupová (1992) graduated from the animation studio at Tomáš Baťa University in Zlín. She has published short comics stories in a number of Czech magazines and anthologies. She published the webcomic The Author’s Apprentice (2018) with the help of the platform Kickstarter.
Karel Čapek (1890-1938) was a Czech writer, intellectual, journalist, translator and photographer. He was a seven-time aspirant for the Nobel Prize for Literature and was famous mainly for his plays and feuilletons. His brother Josef became a well-known painter and writer; his sister Helena wrote prose as well as an outstanding autobiography. He undertook a number of trips abroad which provided him with inspiration for his travel writing and prose.