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Conceiving Ada
Conceiving Ada
Actors: John Perry Barlow, Karen Black, David Brooks, Mark Capri, David Eppel
Genres: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
NR     2000     1hr 25min

This unusual, thought-provoking film, part science fiction, part magical realism, introduces us to the fascinating historical figure of Ada Byron King, daughter of the famous (some would say infamous) British poet, Lord By...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: John Perry Barlow, Karen Black, David Brooks, Mark Capri, David Eppel
Genres: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: Fox Lorber
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 02/01/2000
Original Release Date: 02/19/1999
Theatrical Release Date: 02/19/1999
Release Year: 2000
Run Time: 1hr 25min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Conceiving nothing!
Gina Miller | Seattle, WA USA | 06/18/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)

"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."
A well-measured dose of reality.
wiredweird | Earth, or somewhere nearby | 01/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."

Tilda Swinton Is Byron's Daughter, a Mathematical Genius
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 12/14/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)

"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."
Brilliant Movie!!
Gina Miller | 08/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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!!"