I’ve always loved the movie “Electric Dreams” (1984). It was one of the first features films that had the personal computer as one of its leads! Sure, “2001: a Space Odyssey” had HAL but Electric Dreams had a PC called Edgar which more resembled our modern-day home computer. “War Games” from 1983 was another film that featured computers but it was more about the massive mainframe systems than the personal computer.
Electric Dreams featured computers that had more capabilities than typical PCs available to the public at that time. It also featured gadgets that either hadn’t been invented at the time or were still in development and not available to the general public such as voice recognition, music composition, Artificial intelligence, home security, 3-D rendering, high-resolution color graphics, and even the world wide web! In one particular scene at a concert hall scene, Miles’ mobile device was a pager that also played music thanks to the devious home computer. Obviously, it foreshadowed the use of ringtones on cell phones as well as even the iPod.
Here is a playlist with videos involving Electric Dreams
“The Dual” once again by Giorgio Moroder whose use of futuristic-sounding synthesizers only enhanced the movie.
“Video” by Jeff Lynn from ELO. Note: The nerd in the video (besides Jeff!) is Bud Cort who does the voice of Edgar the computer in the movie. He was Harold in “Harold & Maude”.
Jeff Lynn also contributed “Let it Run” which the computer uses to disturb the neighbor in the middle of the night.
Boy George contributed this sweet love song called “Love is Love”
“The Dream” was another track from Boy George. It’s a song that plays during a dream sequence that the computer had.
Here’s a wonderful interview from 2017 with Virginia Madsen and Lenny Von Dohlen
The wonderful ending sequence
I find it ironic that Electric Dreams was set in San Francisco considering the fact that Silicon Valley has become ground zero for the whole social media and mobile phone phenomenon. Yet, despite all of the cool geeky stuff in the movie, the best part of the movie to me was always the love story between Miles and his musician neighbor Madeleine, played by a young unknown at the time, Virgina Madsen who went on to earn an Oscar nod for her turn in “Sideways”. It was a most unusual love triangle for sure, between a man, woman and a computer! I think this is an underrated movie and it’s a crime that it has never made it to DVD! Even the VHS is difficult to find these days! How ironic that a movie that was innovative when it came to the future and technology never made it to DVD. Perhaps someday it will. I will be one of the first ones to buy it too!
The good news is that Electric Dreams eventually became available on DVD and Blu-Ray. It’s also become a cult classic with many people loving it despite not doing well in theaters when it was released. Watch the interview from 2017 with the two leads and hear wonderful stories about the making of the film and what it’s meant to both of them through the years. I loved the touching story of the woman who told Virginia that she became a concert cellist because of her and Electric Dreams which really moved her.