Conceiving Ada (1997)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BB

USA/Germany, 1997.  Hotwire Productions, Outpost Studios.  Screenplay by Lynn Hershman-Leeson, , based on the biography Ada, The Enchantress of Numbers, A Selection of Lord Byron’s Daughter and Her Description of the First Computer by .  Cinematography by , .  Produced by Lynn Hershman-Leeson, .  Music by .  Production Design by Lynn Hershman-Leeson.  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Toronto International Film Festival 1997.  

A computer scientist discovers the work of Ada Lovelace Byron (daughter of Lord Byron), who has been credited as having written the first computer language. The scientist develops a computer program that allows her to see back in time and make contact with Ada (Tilda Swinton) and discover things about her life, including her society marriage, motherhood and eventual demise at an early age to what historians have assumed is porphyria. Lovelace was obsessed with mathematics, and dreamed from an early age of it being used in every day life, from predicting weather patterns to understanding genetics. She even sewed a mathematical code that she created onto a scarf and used it to successfully predict the outcome of horse races on a regular basis. All of this is wonderful to learn about this little-known historical character, and Swinton is perfectly compelling in the role, but the film looks flat and cheap and does very little to credibly explain how the main character makes the contact in the first place.

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