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memory-bank

Overdrawn at the Memory Bank

Overdrawn at the Memory Bank was a 1983 television movie. It was produced by Canada’s RSL Productions in Toronto. Financing was provided by WNET/PBS New Jersey, which had hoped to create an entire science fiction series adapting famous works, but due to lack of funding this was the last of three such productions, the other two being The Lathe of Heaven and Between Time and Timbuktu.

The script was based on a 1976 John Varley short story. The production was not a critical success and was satirized by Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) in 1997, complete with a spoof of a public television pledge drive.

Overdrawn at the Memory Bank was not shot on film, but rather was videotaped, with extensive use of chroma key and blue screen special effects. Pixelation artifacts are clearly visible in many of the effects.

Plot

In a future dystopia, Aram Fingal (Raul Julia) is a lowly programmer working for Novicorp. Arts are prohibited and he is caught for watching the classic film Casablanca (“scrolling up cinemas”) on his workstation. To rehabilitate him, the company transfers his mind (“doppels” him) into a wild baboon (a process which has become routine, with people buying "doppeling vacations"). For a few minutes, Julia narrates over footage of wild animals (actually taken from the documentary Animals Are Beautiful People). Eventually, Fingal begins to enjoy his baboon existence until he finds his peaceful perch in a tree threatened by an elephant shaking it for fruit. He then activates an escape clause that is supposed to return his mind to his original body. Unknown to Fingal, however, his body has been accidentally tagged for transfer to separate wing for a sex change, and with the computer unable to return him to his body, Fingal’s mind must be kept active by storing it in Novicorp’s central computer -- the HX368, which controls everything from finances to the weather -- until his body is located. His mind can only be maintained in such a way for a limited time before it is destroyed, forming one of the central plot points of the film.

Apollonia (Linda Griffiths), a computer controller, is assigned to locate Fingal and keep him from hacking into Novicorp’s mainframe. With Appolonia’s help, Fingal creates a virtual world where he encounters characters from Casablanca, including a version of Humphrey Bogart’s character, Rick (played also by Raul Julia). Over time he grows bored (while only minutes pass in the real world, days pass in the virtual one) and plots to bring down Novicorp’s finances without being removed and, thus, killed. Appolonia tries to keep Fingal out of trouble, placing her in opposition with Novicorp’s leaders, especially when she finds herself falling in love with Fingal and develops a conflict of interest. With Appolonia’s considerable help, Fingal eventually “interfaces” with the mainframe and defeats his antagonists. He also returns to his body, which has been discovered before undergoing the aforementioned sex change operation. Finally corporeal and reunited with his accomplice, Fingal and Appolonia experience a traditional happy ending, with Fingal having taken complete control of the HX368. After ordering bonuses and stocks for every employee, committing Novicorp's Chairman [the films main antagonist] to a month of "compulsory rehab" via doppeling and changing both his and Apollonia's identity to Rick and Ingrid [respectively] -- the characters from Casablanca --, Fingal, who by now has absolute and total access to & control of the system, vows to fight against the dystopian government. The film ends with the new couple walking out the door and, now free from Novicorp's oppression, talk about opening a club on the other side of town: Rick's Place.

Trivia

  • An unresolved (or undeveloped) subplot concerns Appolonia’s co-worker Djamilla, an industrial spy secretly reporting on Fingal’s plight to Novicorp’s corporate archrival Lexicorp.
  • Audra Williams, a child actor and later a Canadian social activist, appeared in the film as Desirée.

External links

  • http://agonybooth.com/recaps/Overdrawn_at_the_Memory_Bank_1983.aspx

References

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