Conceiving Ada

"Good"

Conceiving Ada Review


Highly conceptual, intricately cerebral and ever- so-slightly pretentious, "Conceiving Ada" is a semi-science fictionsemi-biography of Ada Byron King, the daughter of amorous poet Lord Byronand the great-grandmother of the digital age.

The picture is directed by Bay Area multimedia artist LynnHershman Leeson and stars the deeply affecting and resonatingly intellectualTilda Swinton ("Orlando") as Ada, a thinker so ahead of her timethat most of her Victorian contemporaries couldn't dream of wrapping theirheads around her innovative mathematics.

The film taps into her genius -- she invented what is generallyacknowledged as the first computer language for partner Charles Babbage'srevolutionary analytical engine -- and into her frustration with Victorianconvention through a modern protagonist, a passionate computer prodigynamed Emmy (Francesca Faridany).

An insomniac programmer on the verge of creating a limitedform of artificial life, Emmy spends restless nights obsessing over Adaand tinkering with computerized life forms. Encouraged by surreal videoconferences with her mentor (played by an ailing Timothy Leary), her breakthroughcomes in the form of a digital wormhole that reaches back through historywithin her computer to interface with Ada's memory, and by extension Adaherself, in a world that is half Victorian reality and half cyberspace.

Through computer-generated sets in Ada's semi-syntheticdomain and deeply metaphysical performances from Swinton and Faridany,"Conceiving Ada" marries an engrossing and ambitious parableabout science and emotion into what under other circumstances might havebeen a hokey storyline. It's easy to imagine this kind of plot dumbed downconsiderably and airing on the SciFi Channel with a more accessible scientificicon like Albert Einstein or Benjamin Franklin at its axis.

But this is pure art house fare -- an abstract, almostelegant rumination on feminism, technology, genetics and the mechanicsof memory that is often pure intellectualism, given passion and consciousnessby these two women who, driven by their mutual devotion to science, collaborateand commiserate through this virtual umbilical cord that ties them together.

One must swallow the imperfect concept to be swept intothe story, otherwise some moments become almost laughable. "Find MaryShelley," Faridany types in her computer and -- zap! -- this temporalsearch engine pops up a scene of Ada with Shelley, who was a friend inreal life. If only Yahoo! was this easy.

But ultimately Leeson's creative vision circumnavigatesthe narrative shortcomings, actually turning some of the movie's sci-fiabsurdities into challenging postulations of scientific possibility.



Conceiving Ada

Facts and Figures

Run time: 85 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th February 1999

Distributed by: Hotwire Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 4.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Lynn Hershman-Leeson

Starring: as Ada Augusta Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, as Emmy Coer, as Sims, as Lady Byron / Mother Coer

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.