The Untold Truth of Ex Machina

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“Ex Machina” looks very futuristic, but the actual time period it’s set in isn’t exactly clear. Speaking with IndieWire, Alex Garland came prepared with an answer to this puzzling question. “When someone asked me, ‘When is this happening?’ I would say it’s 10 minutes in the future,” he explained. The obvious implication here is that the events of the film could theoretically take place today, but it also affected some of the technical elements of the film.

Oscar Isaac’s Nathan is a reclusive billionaire, which meant his house had to be nice but not too futuristic, in part because the movie isn’t actually set in the future. The technology used in Nathan’s house isn’t that advanced either. Nathan and Caleb use keycards to get around the house, something that seemed cool and tech-savvy to Garland at the time, but isn’t exactly high-tech. “In retrospect, you’re laughing because it’s so stupid, and in retrospect, it was pointed out to me that it’s the most lo-fi thing you could do,” he said.

Garland recalled when he first heard about this key card idea nearly 20 years ago when he read that Bill Gates had a key card system in his house. While he thought it was futuristic at the time, he now realizes there’s nothing so futuristic about it today. Thankfully, the fact that “Ex Machina” is (almost) contemporary means those issues don’t matter much.

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