21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
I wasn't expecting much from this film since I'd never heard of it. It had been released back in 1997 and I couldn't have missed something this good, could I? Not this movie-hound! It pains me to admit it but I indeed let this one slip by. The totally inventive idea is to have a woman genius of today's world, working on her computer to finish her research project, meet Ada Byron. This genius conceives a child with her lover while doing this work and shortly thereafter discovers she is able to communicate with Ada Byron, Lord Byron's daughter and the inventor of the computer, through her computer screen. We thereafter flip back and forth to the two worlds, learning more and more about Ada and even a bit about the woman carrying the baby and running the computer. There is even a visit to the OB-GYN with today's woman that shows something unusual is developing with the baby.
Timothy Leary puts in what was probably a final screen appearance before his death as, what else, a guru for the woman genius. She consults him periodically and they discuss abstractions together. There are some highly original camera techniques used here that either required fairly new equipment/technology, a lot of imagination or both. IMDB lists this as a German production but it is performed in the English language and seems set in America and England. The reason I give it a 4 instead of a 5 is that at times the film got confusing. I think this was because the script was rough around the edges. If the writer had smoothed out the script and eliminated any potential confusion, this could have been a perfect 5. I'm going to watch it again and it may move up to that 5 if my confusion clears a second time through it. I recommend you give this a try, especially anyone interested in historical women bucking the odds back in what were barbaric times for them.
Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2005
I am a true Ada Lovelace fan, I have books about her, books about Babbage, and her picture in my office, but this film is not about Ada. From the first moment the dialog began I cringed inside and any sliver of hope I had (even at this point), I knew was extremely wishful. The script was dreadful, it was reminiscent of someone you meet who upon trying to impress you, tries too hard, is a name dropper and talks incessantly about subjects you are informed of in a way that is immature and simply uncomfortable. If you are someone who understands the historical importance of Ada, this plot will be nothing but torture to you, and feel strikingly sacrilegious. This movie is not intelligent, but rather, it is insulting, has it's own agenda, takes credit for ideas that have been established by others, marries multiple plots into an annoying and badly acted overkill and is mostly disrespectful, as Ada's name has been used and defamed.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
First, the fiction: Perhaps the premise is a little contrived. Channeling the spirit of a famous Victorian woman into a PC (and more than the PC) is a bit improbable. Fine. Once that premise is in place, the plot stays within its own inner logic and moves forward quite well.
The reality, though, is what struck me. First, there is Ada herself. Yes, she was brilliant. She made a place for herself when all the places were reserved for men. We've heard that part. She was also a real, flawed human being, with a destructive gambling habit. Much of her interest in math and algorithms was centered on finding "the system" for beating the odds in horse races. Her creation of programming was driven by an urge that she could not control - like a flower that blooms because it grows in manure.
Emmy seems real, too, a fully mature "geek girl," but drawn with respect. She's intelligent, wholly wrapped up in her work, and also driven by a vision of her own. Best, she is completely a woman - not pretty, but beautiful, and not just a male role with a female actor. Emmy represents a character that I know and admire in real life. This is the first time I've seen it portrayed on screen, or at least portrayed so strongly.
Finally, the ethical question of Emmy's daughter is very real. The exact circumstance, as I said, is fiction. The issue is not: We have unprecedented control over what a baby, a new human being, can become. What kinds of control are morally acceptable? To tell the truth, I think Emmy took "what we can do" well past "what we should do."
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2003
This is one of those rare movies that is intelligent and thought provoking...The actors are wonderful and the story brings together the classical and post modern themes into a mystical woven movie...This movie should not be missed and a fitting tribute to Ada Byron, who was so far ahead of her time....
A brilliant movie one of the best....a treasure!!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2003
This unusual film is about Ada Augusta Byron King Lovelace, a daughter of the poet Byron. Her name is overshadowed by this famous father, but Ada is, the film informs you, actually a genius on her own, a kind of 'mother' of modern computer system. If my source is to be relied on, Pentagon of the US government in fact adapted the name od ADA for its computer language program.
"Conceiving Ada" has, however, a little confusing structure. It starts with Emmy, a woman living in the 20th century, so inmmersed in the possibility of re-creating the thoughts and images of the past events, using the special computer techiniques and the DNA patterns inherited from Ada Lovelace, the pioneer of the computer languages. One of her mentors, Sims (Timothy Leary, who died 9 days after the shooting of the picture), helps her, giving vital information, but with some warnings.
Emmy succeeds in going "interactive" with the real Ada (Tilda Swinton) living in the early Victorian era. From then, the film traces the eventful life of Ada, who was leading unconventional life, going out with several males, or being addicted to gambling, in spite of her strictly conservative mother's adomoniton. (Her/ Emmy's mother is played by Karen Black). Ada's lifestyle, on the other hand, influences that of Emmy, who is living with her boyfriend, and is going to have a baby (meaning "conceiving Ada").
The central idea is that of sci-fi films, but "Conceiving Ada" looks more like intent on championing this unique female nearly forgotten in the history. Though the idea is a worthy one, the film lacks decent budget to realize the well-intentioned purpose. The film is made in 1997, and this fact might explain the lack of convincing images which could have brought the interesting concept to life.
Director Lynn Hershamann Leeson, known as visual artist using videos and other visual media, made a decent debut film with this one, thanks to Tilda Swinton's rivetting acting as Ada. The film is shot in digital camera, but that is not damaging after all -- the director knows how to use it -- but if you expect something very Victorian, like costumes and manners, then you will be disappointed. And if you want to know this historically neglected genius, then you won't get enough, for half of the film is used to show Emmy, almost always sitting before a modern-day PC (which is not an engaging scene, as you imagine). The film falls short in both ways, and considering the potential power of the subject matter, "Conceiving Ada" might have worked better with less time spent on Emmy, and more on Ada.
Not a bad film at all, with always great Tilda Swinton. The problem is not the subject which is intriguing to know, but the way it is presented.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2012
Why it's being re-released is not clear as it appears to be the same as the version filmed in 1997 (1999) and released on DVD in 1999 (2000) (2010). The dates are not even clear as IMDB gives different dates for both. Anyway, an obvious low budget, filmed on a single set (probably), with what was back then cheap computer visual overlay effects and now seems even more stone age. The blue screen just didn't do it's job as real vs. generated images looked artificial. Since the storyline is so dialogue dependent it would have been nice to have had better enunciation and audio clarity; subtitles would have been a tremendous help in this case. I'm surprised that the newer release couldn't find a budget for it. Consequently the story is hard to follow as we try to figure out how a contemporary programmer can communicate with a centuries dead person - Ada Lovelace. Historically, Ada may have had a critical role in possibly the first mechanical calculating (computer) language for a machine designed by Babbage whom she communicated with. The issue revolves around the importance of her translating what an Italian mathematician had written about the machine.
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2000
Weeell, it all started innocently enough - the VHS box said it was a film where Tilda Swinton portrayed Ada Augusta Byron King, the intriguing daughter of the equally intriguing Lord Byron. And indeed, I probably *would* enjoy seeing a film in which Tilda portrayed that character, but unfortunately, this film wasn't exactly it. 'Conceiving Ada' makes a misguided attempt to modernize the story by having Byron's daughter interact with present-day characters, ostensibly communicating through proprietary software. (I don't think it ships with Windows 98.)
While the decision to weave Ada's plotline into a second one is bad enough, the film is done infinitely more harm by the wretched dialogue and casting for the modern-day characters. Taking nothing away from Keanu Reeves, I think J.D. Wolfe has presented a strong case for worst performance by a human actor in the 20th Century - assuming that this aptly named lycanthrope is, indeed, human. Hairy, dim-witted and slow, this heavy-lidded beast displays no energy, no comic timing, no anything! Francesca Fardinay is not nearly as bad in the lead role, but her performance is crippled by (a) laughable dialogue - "I've paid my dues!" she retorts as her justification to warp her own unborn child's DNA structure - and (b) the most unflattering wig known to man. The storyline is impossibly convoluted, the science absurd, and the biography lost in the shuffle.
If you're looking for an unusual film which straddles centuries and stars Tilda Swinton, ORLANDO is your only hope. View this film only if it becomes necessary to induce an epileptic fit - it serves no other purpose. Hisssss!
on April 2, 2012
The following refers to both this and the re-released version. First of all the dates for both releases are puzzling. Was it filmed in 1997 or 1999 and was it released on DVD in 1999, 2000, and 2010. The dates are not clear as IMDB gives different dates for both versions. Anyway, an obvious low budget, filmed on a single set (probably), with what was back then cheap computer visual overlay effects and now seems even more stone age. The blue screen just didn't do it's job as real vs. generated images looked artificial. Since the storyline is so dialogue dependent it would have been nice to have had better enunciation and audio clarity; subtitles would have been a tremendous help in this case. I'm surprised that the newer (2010) release couldn't find a budget for it. Consequently the story is hard to follow as we try to figure out how a contemporary programmer can communicate with a centuries dead person - Ada Lovelace. Historically, Ada may have had a critical role in possibly the first mechanical calculating (computer) language for a machine designed by Babbage whom she communicated with. The issue revolves around the importance of her translating what an Italian mathematician had written about the machine.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2004
Admittedly, there were a few places where I had to briefly rewind and thought "whaaaat?" But once I accepted the quirky premise of the film, it was entertaining. It definitely is a different method of exploring an interesting historical character. I don't regret the purchase at all.
on January 16, 2003
this film was very thought provoking and interesting. the struggle between emmy and her work and her life is wonderfully juxtaposed with the past of ada. wonderfully directed and shot.
best movie ever...enough said.