Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Smart House: Modern Adaptation of The Veldt
When I first read The Veldt by Ray Bradbury, I immediately thought the idea for the Disney movie Smart House was stolen from this story. Though the movie isn’t as graphic as The Veldt seems to be, the movie is a visual sketch of what a smart house would truly look like if someone were to create it tomorrow. Because I’ve already seen this movie a million times it was easy to recognize the many similarities Smart House has with The Veldt. The movie revolves around the Cooper family who wins a contest that awards them with a new house that does everything imaginable. Because the children’s mother was deceased, the older child Ben Cooper, thought that by winning the house, the house could eventually perform some motherly duties that the children were so desperately seeking. At first this proved to be a great thing for the family until the technology, also know as “Pat,” became too controlling. Towards the end of the movie, the Cooper family is locked inside their own home, unable to do anything about it. Even though Smart House was made fourteen years ago, we still aren’t even close to having the technology described in the story or featured in the film. In the film, the house prepares all the meals, does all the cleaning, dresses the children and everything in between. In the story The Veldt, the children are obsessed with the nursery because it can change scenery based on their own thoughts. In addition to the nursery, the house is also very high-tech. The house feeds, bathes, and dresses the children, essentially leaving the children and parents with no responsibilities. After the purchase of the home and the addition of the nursery, Wendy and Peter have little to no interaction with their parents, leaving George and Lydia with no authority over their children. Even when Lydia starts to have some concerns with the amount of technology being used, George doesn’t seem to understand: “But that’s just it. I thought we bought this house, so we wouldn’t have to do anything?” (Oates 267). By the end of both The Veldt and Smart House, the parents realize the houses have become too much, but in The Veldt it’s implied that it’s too late for George and Lydia and technology "consumes" them. The “smart houses” in both stories appeal to the supernatural gothic motif. The house has power over everyone and does not adhere to any rules. In The Veldt, the room refuses to change to reflect George Hadley’s thoughts, making readers wonder if the room is already too powerful and only reflects the violent thoughts of the children. This motif is significant because the idea of technology consuming us (not as literally as being eaten by lions) is terrifying and looks to be inevitable in the near future. Though this story was written in the 1950s, Ray Bradbury was on to something when he predicted that there would soon be a time where technology replaces daily tasks and social interactions.
Bradbury, Ray. "The Veldt." American Gothic Tales. Ed. Joyce Carol Oates. New York: Plume, 1996. 264-277. Print.