Large Image Display: The Stepford Wives: Immunity to Fire

This single frame is taken from the 2004 film 'The Stepford Wives'. It has been greatly reduced in size from the original, in order to meet fair use guidelines.

The image here is meant to be a point of fear in the film: Joanne is convinced that people are being changed somehow, and rushes over to her friend Bobbie's house to warn her. Unfortunately when she gets there, she finds Bobbie too has been changed. During the encounter, Bobbie puts her hand casually on a lit stove, and does not even notice the flames flitting between her fingers.

As we learn later in the film, Bobbie's limbs have been replaced with artificial ones. Prosthetics wired into her nervous system under a new fake skin - utterly blemish and imperfection free, and rated to stand considerable damage. Not unlike modern prosthetic sheaths.

Claudia Mitchell using the DEKA arm in 2006

Its ironic in a way, that modern prosthetics ape the film's for opposite reasons. The film's prosthetics are perfect mark free skin because that is what the men of the town desire. Our arms are perfect, blemish-free skin, because we lack the technology to create realistic imperfections in all but the most top of the line cases. Baseline prosthetics don't even have skin.

Both suffer from a lack of bandwidth on sensors - there simply is no way with current technology levels, and degree of integration with the nervous system, to pack pressure sensors with the same degree of fidelity a human arm would possess, and tie them into the nervous system. The film version has apparently solved this problem as the women have touch, but has not managed to master temperature at all.

The temperature problem is more of an issue for actual prosthetics of course. Not being at all aware when your arm is on fire, is a very bad - and potentially expensive - possibility for any user of a modern prosthetic, even one tied into the nervous system, for that reason. We literally have no way to determine the temperature of any part of the prosthetic in the same way that a natural limb can.

Link: The Stepford Wives: Index of Stills

Link: The Stepford Wives (2004): A Plot Overview

Link: Site Shop > The Stepford Wives (2004)