“Android 207“, a 2006 short film by Paul Whittington, is an ingenious exercise of empathy and a greater metaphor for life’s existential caprices and setbacks. A skeletal android on wheels navigates a white, winding maze full of traps and assorted obstacles. His every move is carefully monitored, and his wish to reach an exit seems constantly beset by contradictions and arbitrary challenges.
As a work of empathy, what Whittington has accomplished is suffuse an ordinarily inhuman and sterile object with the full emotive reach of a flesh and blood human being. The android, half machine and half skeleton in appearance, bears only a trace corporeal resemblance, yet the film permits its viewers a vicarious experience when it is given a series of difficult, humane decisions to make. The relatability of such scenarios allows the viewer to understand its struggle, which in turn enriches the film’s final, revelatory moments.
In the maze’s construct of hindrances, Android 207 can be interpreted as the everyman—pitted against an anonymous, often confusing world that seems to punish without sound reason, bound in ubiquitous white walls that veil any history or objectives. Analogous to facelessness, the film is effectively a vision of the singular struggle of a being, fully realized beneath its outward rudiments, who is confined to the conformities of society. The paradoxical outcomes of said conformities can be likened to the non-linearity of living, and the vagaries of any livelihood.
Rounding out the short with a twist most characteristic of mind benders, the film may probe a deeper, more existential question of being: if purpose cannot be readily found in the day-to-day affairs of living, then does that denote a possibility for greater meaning in an abstraction beyond ours? In a spiritual context, the purpose of the android is not apparent to itself, but it is built into its very essence. Doomed to repeat its errors until corrected, this process is thus akin to the religious concept of reincarnation. In succeeding the challenges set out for it, Android 207 finally reaches a nirvanic, if ironic, state.