Firstly, it’s very much of the era when computers were new and exciting and full of romantic possibilities. Not romantic in the going on a date sense, but romantic in the going on an adventure sense. I’d say Electric Dreams was the best of a home computing sub-genre that also includes Weird Science, Automan, War Games, Tron and Superman III. A time when there was still a little bit of magic and mystery about those bulky beige boxes that went beep.
Secondly, it still gets me. The story is essentially a re-write of Casablanca but with Humphrey Bogart played by a Commodore 64. It’s the timeless story of boy meets girl, boy buys computer, boy brings computer to life, computer falls in love with girl, computer gives up girl for boy, computer commits suicide. I’m sure I didn’t do it intentionally but I so ripped off the ending for Festival Of Death.
Of course, it’s massively dated, and yet – by using the power of selective description – it’s also uncannily timely. After all, the boys’ troubles only start when he mixes going on the internet with drinking alcohol; and within a matter of days he’s ripping off someone else’s music and passing it off as his own.
I think it’d make a great West End Musical. With songs from the early 80’s, by The Human League and all the other bands around then which were a bit like The Human League. I’d write it. You’d have to sort out the plot – the film has a couple of odd loose threads – but it’d be worth it just for the closing number.