old-age: Bicentennial Man

Bicentennial Man

Roger Ebert called it right: ‘Bicentennial Man begins with promise, proceeds in fits and starts, and finally sinks into a cornball drone of greeting-card sentiment.’

in 2005 the Martin family get a robot – which they call Andrew – to perform housekeeping and maintenance duties. They gradually discover that Andrew is special: he can both identify emotions and reciprocate in kind, and display creativity. Thus begins Andrew’s two hundred year journey to becoming, and being accepted as human.

Embeth Davidtz played the dual roles of Amanda ‘Little Miss’ Martin and her granddaughter Portia, taking both roles from youth to old-age. She endured at least six different prosthetic makeups to portray the two characters at various stages in their differing lives.

Wendy Crewson played Rachel ‘Ma’am’ Martin, Amanda’s mother.

The makeup

Old-age makeup effects designed and applied by Greg Cannom; old-age makeup effects created by Keith VanderLaan’s Captive Audience Productions Inc. Other makeup credits included: Wes Wofford, old-age makeup; Brian Sipe, prosthetics makeup supervisor; Miles Teves was the conceptual sculptor (uncredited).

These makeups deserved an Oscar – which was won that year by Topsy-Turvey – even if very little else about the movie did. It was especially interesting to see the same actress portraying two very similar women who nevertheless have aged very differently because of their different life experiences.

The robots in the movie were designed by Steve Johnson’s now defunct EdgeFX.