PH at Berwick: Dreaming of Electric Sheep

Gautam Valluri

Discount Rick Deckard

Discount Rick Deckard

Ion de Sosa’s Sueñan los Androides (2014) is a wonderfully weird film. The Berlin-based Spanish filmmaker’s adaptation of Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a brave effort indeed. Set in the horribly touristic Spanish city of Benirdom, the film follows a mysterious Rick Deckard-esque man on a mission to hunt down and exterminate androids living amongst the population.

The exterminations themselves are ear-splitting loud and often come unexpectedly. The audience are startled and go through most of the film on the edge of their seats because in this film one never really knows when the next gun shot will ring out. Although the synopsis claims the film is set in the year 2052 AD, there is no mention of it anywhere in the film. The film is set inside tall buildings were mostly senior citizens dwell and because all the androids are young, one is deceptively led to believe that the youth of the place are being targetted.

Although not very apparent, the film does touch upon the current economic state of Spain in general. The androids, being mostly young workers are eliminated, perhaps implying the youth of Spain ‘disappearing’ from the country in search of greener pastures elsewhere in Europe. De Sosa himself is a young Spanish filmmaker living and working in Berlin, where he also finished this film. The film also alludes to the mostly retired British and Belgian population of Bernirdom. These senior citizens have left their cold countries for sun in the twilight of their life, yet rarely ever have to change how they used to live in their homelands. The economy of Benirdom however owes a lot to the inflow of these retirees and most of the young people in the city have jobs which revolve around their upkeep, much like the androids in the film.

De Sosa’s choice to film Sueñan in boxy, academy aspect ratio 16mm film adds to the timelessness of the film. He moves from robotically static shots of interiors of buildings under construction to night clubs where senior citizens dance to exotic music to Super8-ish footage of young people, perhaps already successfully exterminated. Oh and did I mention there is a sheep?

Earlier in the film, the unnamed hit man loses his beloved pet sheep to some unnamed illness and makes an attempt to purchase another to replace it. Ofcourse, the year is 2052 and pets are in short supply. Where dogs and cats cost anywhere between a million to a million and a half pesetas, the solitary sheep costs four and a half million. He cannot afford it.

If the film succeeds at anything, it is the way with which it owns its goofiness. It’s a challenging piece to watch, especially since it does not pretend to have anything profound to say.