Revived: 1967 Czech communist-era "interactive cinema"


BB reader Patrick says,

A system launched by the Czechs at the Montreal Expo 1967, touted as the world's first attempt at 'interactive cinema', was recently revived in the Prague theatre where it was first tested. Intriguingly, the Hollywood studios came close to licensing the "Kinoautomat" technology.
Link.

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  1. I saw this! (Yes, I am old.) Some points to consider:

    1) Unfortunately, the decision points come at the most dramatic moments of the film, greatly interrupting the flow.

    2) It’s a bad idea for theaters because a significant fraction of the audience likely will not agree with the majority’s choices. This format would be better suited to DVDs, where individuals can make their own choices and explore alternatives.

    3) There used to be a line of “interactive novels” that used this technique, now long gone.

  2. This is amazing! I saw this film at Expo ’67 and have been waiting ever since for something like this to come to my local cinema. After 40 years, looks like it’s still ahead of its time!

  3. I believe it also showed at Expo ’74 in Spokane, WA. It was a bit risque. I remember really hoping that my vote would swing the plot so we could see the sexy actress undressed. And I got to push my own button, even immorally, regardless of my mother’s own vote!

  4. i remember from my childhood that Sonny and Cher did something similar with a TV movie – with the voting by a studio audience. It was disappointing because even though I was a kid I realized that no matter which storyline the audience chose they probably both ended at the same point.

    Couldn’t find anything on IMDB, so maybe I just dreamt it up, or there were different actors.

    here’s more on the Czech movie:
    http://www.naimark.net/writing/trips/praguetrip.html

    There were 10 scenes where the movie stops and our hero, Mr. Novak, would walk onstage live and ask the audience to vote. (One scene, for example, was whether to let in a scantily-clad female neighbor right before his wife was due home.) But there weren’t two-to-the-tenth (1,024) pre-filmed options, only 20 (actually 19). At its inception, they decided that such exponential numbers were impossible to produce, and probably not as interesting anyway. So they carefully constructed a story such that no matter which of the two options were chosen, it would end up back at the same next choice

  5. I’ll have to see this. “Choose Your Own Adventure: The Movie!”

    … Also reminds me of the creepy TV show Montag’s wife watches in Truffaut’s film of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” “Linda, you’re fantastic!” That film was from 1966; I rather doubt that Czech filmmakers had access to it, though. Then again… It could also be a case of a similar idea popping up in two places — a lot of experimenting was being done in film at the time.

  6. Chechoslovakian television had something similar I believe it was : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0376432/ “Synové a dcery Jakuba skláre” but i’m not sure.

    In one of the episodes projection stopped and people were told to vote on how the episode should end by turning the light on and off.

    It was evening so they had a camera on roof of the tv building, and a reporter in the local power station.

    I remembered that because when i saw this for the first time it was already a rerun played in the early morning by Polish TV, and people still tried to turn their lights on and off.

  7. 2 FUUTOTT: It was “Rozpaky kuchare Svatopluka” (1985) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0249315/ . And it was pretty bad compared to other Dietl’s TV series or Kinoautomat.

    Kinoautomat was shown on Czech TV several years ago. IIRC It was shown on 2 TV programs simultaneously and you could switch a program to see the plot developement you prefered.

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