Recent talk of robot police and the prescient sci-fi films that have complicated feelings about them inspired me to rewatch RoboCop, which inspired me to look up the film’s Dallas shooting locations ahead of the 30th anniversary of its July 1987 release.
The Dallas Film Commission made it easy, comparing stills from the film with 2012 photos of each identifiably local location. Those comparisons are fascinating, if only to see how each one has changed over the years. Convention centers and DART rail stops and new parks are now illusion-breakers to imagining the blasted cityscape of a dystopian future Detroit. At this point in 2017, even a few of the “after” pictures from 2012 are significantly different.
Most of the locations, including I.M. Pei’s Dallas City Hall and the old municipal building downtown, as well as a couple Deep Ellum parking lots, are easy to find, and within walking distance of each other. Zouk, in the space that once housed the famed Starck Club, is now closed, and I’m not sure who currently occupies the 40th floor of Renaissance Tower, which you’d need to get to for this view. But you could knock the rest of these out in an afternoon, no sweat.
I fed some of the addresses into Google Maps, and learned that it actually makes for a nice little tour of downtown Dallas. Google Maps, which always oversells it, puts it at about six miles and two hours on foot. Here’s a suggested route. (I thought about saving this for July, but by then it’ll be 100 degrees outside and neither man nor cyborg should walk the city for that long in that heat.)
As you walk and explore the city center, meditate on the lessons of Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop: the ethical problems in policing presented by new technological advancements, and the perils of ceding too much power to private interests. Also the part where the RoboCop hits the shooting range, which is pretty cool.