Let’s be honest, 2016 hasn’t been a great year. Legendary celebrities have died, the UK ‘decided’ to leave the European Union, and Trump is the new President of America. As we’re still trying to stomach such apocalyptic news, let’s look at some movies which best sum up the fuck-wittery of our dystopian dark days.
All the movies listed below, depict, in one way or another, dystopian, futuristic, totalitarian societies in which individuals fight for freedom, or to escape oppressive regimes, struggle to stay alive, all in all to evil – in whichever form it might be – and reclaim their doomed world.
Opening the list with the story of a dictatorial pig seems pretty adequate. Orwell’s 1945 novel tells the story of a farm, dominated by pigs and in which “all animals are equal” until tyranny and persecution take over. Don’t be fooled by the fact that this is a cartoon (incidentally Britain’s second ever animated movie and using the same person to voice over all the animals). This is pretty faithful to George Orwell’s virulent criticism of Stalinism. Watch the full film below…
A flu-like pandemic knocks off 99.4% of the world’s population. The survivors split into two groups that oppose each other. Stephen King’s Manichean epic is a difficult one to turn into a movie due to its length, multiple plot lines and characters. A four-episode mini-series was the way forward so as not to lose any of the intricate plot. Watch Part 1 below:
Cormac McCarthy’s bleak and beautiful masterpiece in which a father protects his son during their journey through a post-apocalyptic world is remarkably well adapted by John Hillcoat in his 2009 movie starring award-winning actors Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duval and Charlize Theron.
“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power.” George Orwell’s prophetic 1949 novel in which the society is tyrannised by Big Brother, individual thinking is banned and history rewritten in the name of propaganda is much scarier today than it actually was in 1984. Michael Radford’s adaptation, starring John Hurt and the brilliant Richard Burton in his last role, is a very convincing one and worth a watch.
Francois Truffaut’s first colour movie and only English film is the adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s unsettling novel in which books are banned and burned. Bradbury’s novel, depicting a futuristic postwar world was written shortly after the MacCarthyist years and is a denunciation of the invasive practices used at the time. Truffaut’s version did divide opinions, judged a bad adaption by some, pompous by others. Although the sci-fi and postwar themes are under-represented, the movie still delivers.
BRAVE NEW WORLD
Brave New World was initially inspired by utopian works, however, halfway through writing his sci-fi masterpiece Aldous Huxley deviated from his initial plan and fell into the fairly classical notion of ‘I shall escape the regime to follow my love,’ his main character becoming the outsider from a predictable, regimented society in which none think by themselves. Burt Brickenhorff turned the book into a TV movie in1980. Though the movie is dated, which shows throughout, it is good – albeit a little slow – and far superior to the other version with Leonard Nimoy from 1998.
Terry Gilliam’s masterful sci-fi thriller is set up in a post-pandemic future. Convict James Cole (Bruce Willis) travels back in time to the rhythm of Astor Piazzola’s haunting music to attempt to prevent the virus spreading and to find the 12 Monkeys, the organisation supposedly behind the pandemic. Unfortunately Cole is sent to the wrong year a couple of times, finding out more information and meeting new people, which ads to the mystery and the tension until the brilliant and unexpected ending.
THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW
With the very real environmental threat being ignored and denied by many world leaders, this visually impressive movie – albeit a tad cheesy – definitely has its place on today’s list. Its simple gloomy message – that climate will get fucked up soon and we’re all going to die – is underpinned by a twee story in which a dad braves the elements to retrieve his son, a young Jake Gyllenhaal, who is trapped with a handful of people in the library of a sub-zero, snowy New York. As in most disaster movies, all somehow ends well.
A mix of sci-fi, thriller, action and faux documentary, Neil Blomkamp’s 2009 movie tells the story of a town invaded by giant prawn-like aliens that are captured and forced to live in slums. The found footage and fictional news and interviews, doubled with the abrupt intrusions into the aliens’ lives, the conditions in which they are kept, the feather-like weight of their existence at the hands of this segregational society, makes for an uneasy yet very good watch.
WAR OF THE WORLDS
There are many adaptations of H.G. Well’s 1898 book in the zeitgeist of cinema, hell, there’s even a musical by Jeff Wayne that – just by its mere mention – has progressive rock riffs zinging through my head, but it’s the Tom Cruise/Steven Spielberg version that we’re looking at for the top spot today – as Earth is invaded by alien tripod fighting machines, one family fights for survival, and in a role that plays against his usual action man persona, Cruise plays an estranged father to a son that wants to fight, in a thinly veiled analogy for youngsters going to war.
And if that wasn’t exciting enough…
Which movies would make your list?