Among the most famous films in the history of cinema there is a sub-genre that generates a lot of interest: that of dystopian films. In a dystopian film the heart of the story is a dystopia, an imaginary reality projected into the imminent future of a totalitarian and totally negative society. It can take on violent or invisible and subtle characteristics.
It can be an obvious and concrete dystopian world or a hidden and invisible world. The dystopian imaginary arises from perceptions and situations of the present to imagine a dark future, the exact opposite of utopia, which instead has a positive value. In the dystopian society, the human being faces terrible and frightening situations. Politics is repressive and technology is used to spy on individuals and deprive them of any personal privacy and freedom.
The New Fears of a Dystopian World
It is no mystery that dystopia has returned to the attention of the world today.novel George Orwell’s 1984 is again one of the most widely read bestsellers in Western countries. The main cause of these new negative perceptions and fears is probably the great technological and digital transformation we are experiencing and the emergence of political leaders who are unable to avoid crises of all kinds, which occur rapidly.
To these changes was added the covid 19 pandemic that created in the streets of the world those scenarios that we used to see only in science fiction films such as The Last Man on Earth. Deserted streets and home isolation for the entire world population, curfew, social distancing and fear of the other, alienation and fear of disease.
The Birth of Dystopian Cinema
There are countless films that have used settings of this type, starting for example with dystopian horror interpretations such as George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Or the more recent Contagion, which deals more directly with the theme of the virus. To confirm the interest and fascination of filmmakers for a dystopian and negative world is the large amount of short films and independent films made in the last two years on the subject during the global lockdown.
Dystopian Movies at the Indiecinema Film Festival
Among the 45 films in competition at the Indiecinema Film Festival, five dealt with issues related to the virus and set their stories in a dystopian context. This interest of cinema towards dystopia is justified above all by the narrative mechanism: what films do best, as the great masters of the history of cinema have explained, is to narrate the external conflict, the struggle of the individual against society.
The Man Against Society
Unlike the theater which focuses more on the interpersonal conflict between the characters, unlike literature and the novel capable of deep inner investigations, cinema gives its best when man fights against external perhaps. Obviously this is not always true.
There are many filmmakers who have made films that are completely focused on inner or interpersonal conflict. A good script encompasses all three levels of conflict in its development. But it remains evident that the external conflict, the protagonist who fights against the external world and society, is the one most suited to the cinematographic work.
Many great directors, starting with Fritz Lang, have carved their testimonies into films that recount their experiences in twentieth-century dictatorships. Horrors and dystopian societies that now belong to the past and to history. But the dystopian world in movies and novels is always something that has yet to manifest itself, a bad omen that belongs to the future.
1984, George Orwell’s Novel
The most famous dystopian work of art with which the very concept of dystopia is often identified and 1984 by George Orwell. Big Brother has become famous all over the world and never ceases to be impressively topical. Perhaps because Orwell has centered in this novel one of the fundamental knots of human existence: the instinct of overwhelming the dark powers towards citizens. A phenomenon that we can observe globally at all latitudes.
Fortunately, it is a phenomenon that also has a positive function: that of increasing people’s rebellion and awareness of those who want to dominate and exploit them. The more the dystopian and violent world, the more it generates a better world. In literary and cinematographic works, however, the happy ending is not so frequent.
In 1984 Winston Smith surrenders to the brainwashing of the totalitarian Big Brother regime. In many films the protagonist does not survive the monstrosity of dystopia. But fortunately, reality confirms that the opposite is true. Attempts to eliminate the dignity and freedom of the individual fail and help create a better world, even if the price is high.
Recovering the Inner Power
If freedom and well-being were not already in our power now, we should always hope for someone willing to grant them to us. And even if things went well, we would still live in fear of losing wealth and freedom due to an unfavorable change in those in power. This is the life that leads to slavery and the psycho-penitentiary: the hope of having something better and the fear of losing what you think you already have. But handing over freedom and wealth into the hands of the outside world already constitutes a state of slavery in itself.
Here are the dystopian movies that you absolutely must see.
Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1922)
It is a 1922 German dystopian silent film directed by Fritz Lang. The film was produced in two parts, “The Big Game: A Game for Destiny” and “Inferno: A Game for the World”, with a combined running time of approximately four hours.
The plot of the film follows the activities of Dr. Mabuse, a master criminal and hypnotist who uses his powers to manipulate people as he pleases. Mabuse is also an adept gambler, and his prowess allows him to manipulate the results of games for his personal advantage. The film also follows Detective Wenk, who tries to stop Mabuse’s activities.
The film was a major commercial and critical success upon its release. It was particularly praised for its innovative direction, stylistic visuals, and complex and engaging storyline. The character of Mabuse has inspired numerous other works, including other films and novels.
The film is regarded as a masterpiece of German silent cinema and has had a lasting impact on popular culture. It has been restored and remastered on several occasions and is still widely studied and enjoyed by film buffs around the world.
“Metropolis” is a 1927 silent dystopian film directed by Fritz Lang. It is considered a masterpiece of German Expressionist cinema and a pioneering work of science fiction.
The plot of the film takes place in a dystopian future where a futuristic city is divided into two parts: the upper city, where the richest people live, and the lower city, where the workers live. The city is ruled by a powerful man, Joh Fredersen, who seeks to control the population through technology and repression.
The protagonist of the film is Freder, the son of Joh Fredersen, who discovers the hard work and living conditions of the workers of the lower city. He also meets a young woman named Maria, who is trying to bring about peace between the workers and the ruling class. However, Freder’s father tries to stop Maria and the workers’ revolt, and in turn tries to kill Freder.
The film is known for its stunning futuristic imagery and visually powerful storytelling. Lang employed many techniques that were innovative for his time, including the use of special effects, the creation of huge sets and mass staging.
The film had a huge impact on popular culture, influencing many subsequent directors and artists. It was also the inspiration for many later science fiction works, including Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’. “Metropolis” has been restored over the years and today is considered one of the most important and influential films in the history of cinema.
Things to Come (1936)
It is a 1936 British science fiction dystopian film, directed by William Cameron Menzies and based on the novel “The Shape of Things to Come” by H.G. Wells. The film is set in a dystopian future, beginning in 1940 and extending to 2036.
The film begins with an impending world war flaring up in Europe in 1940, leading to utter devastation and the fall of the British government. After the war, human society splits into small isolated communities, while a new world power emerges from the East, dubbed “Everytown”. The film follows the story of Everytown and its inhabitants, as the city becomes increasingly technologically advanced and dominant.
The film’s protagonist is John Cabal, an inventor and scientist who seeks to create a secret weapon to destroy the city of Everytown and put an end to its tyranny. However, Cabal is captured and imprisoned, and the city continues to grow and prosper.
Over time, the residents of Everytown begin to question whether their highly structured, technologically advanced society is best for them, and begin to seek a simpler, more authentic life. The film ends with a picture of a new civilization where technology serves humanity, and not the other way around.
“Things to Come” is a visionary film that anticipated many of the technological and social challenges the world would face in the decades following its release. The film was praised for its optimistic vision of a better future and its critique of technologically advanced societies that neglect basic human needs and aspirations.
Forbidden Planet (1956)
It is a 1956 science fiction dystopian film directed by Fred M. Wilcox. The film is notable for being one of the first science fiction films to be made in color and for its innovative electronic soundtrack. Furthermore, it is considered one of the most important science fiction films of its era, as well as a classic of the genre.
The plot of the film follows the story of a space expedition from Earth to the planet Altair IV. The objective of the mission is to search for survivors of the disappearance of the Bellerophon spacecraft, sent to the surface of Altair IV twenty years earlier. When the crew arrives on the planet, they find that the Bellerophon has been destroyed by an unknown force and that only two people, Doctor Morbius and his daughter Altaira, survived.
Morbius is a strange man who has discovered advanced technology left behind by a vanished alien civilization called “Krell”. This technology includes a device called a “machine”, which is capable of creating anything the human mind can imagine. The crew of the space expedition are on an adventure to find out what happened to the Bellerophon, and soon find themselves facing threats from both Morbius and an unseen and powerful presence that seems to control the planet.
The film is notable for its striking visual style and innovative soundtrack, composed by electronic music pioneer Bebe and Louis Barron. The film also has a strong philosophical element, as it explores the power and consequences of advanced intelligence and human ambition.
The film has become a cult film over the years and is considered one of the masterpieces of science fiction cinema. The film influenced many subsequent science fiction films and works, and was an important landmark in the history of the genre.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
It is a 1956 science fiction dystopian movie, directed by Don Siegel and based on the novel ‘The Body Snatchers’ by Jack Finney. The film’s plot follows a small-town doctor, played by Kevin McCarthy, who discovers that his fellow citizens are slowly being replaced by perfect copies of themselves, created by an alien race of plants.
The film is known for its unsettling atmosphere and for its depiction of a society where the individual gradually loses their identity and becomes part of a collective mind. The main theme of the film is paranoia and the loss of individuality, which is reflected in the image of people becoming members of an emotionless and uniform group.
The film received positive reviews upon its release and continues to be regarded as one of the best science fiction films ever made. It has also been lauded for its ability to make the viewer think about the nature of identity and the consequences of social conformity. The film has also inspired numerous remakes and imitations, including a 1978 remake directed by Philip Kaufman and a new 1993 version directed by Abel Ferrara.
Transposition of Orwell’s novel made by English television with actor Peter Cushing. A television film that at the time of its release caused a lot of controversy and several parliamentary questions. Virtually unknown and never released in many countries outside the UK, it is one of the most interesting versions of George Orwell’s novel to hit the cinema.
On the Beach (1959)
It is a 1959 dystopian movie directed by Stanley Kramer and based on the 1957 novel by Neville Shute. The film is a post-apocalyptic drama that takes place after a nuclear war that has destroyed much of the world.
The film’s plot follows a group of survivors in Australia, the only part of the world that appears to have remained immune to war. However, even in Australia, the radioactivity is slowly spreading and the survivors know that they will all die eventually.
The story focuses on the main characters, including an American officer played by Gregory Peck, an Australian submariner trying to find signs of life elsewhere in the world, and a young Australian woman played by Ava Gardner. The film deals with important themes such as despair, fear and hope, as the characters try to face the end of the world in a dignified way.
The film was well received by critics and was lauded for the performances of the lead actors. Also, the theme of the film made many people think about the nuclear threat and the Cold War at a time when the world was still in the midst of the Cold War.
It is a moving film that explores the themes of hope, death and despair in a post-apocalyptic world. The film offers an opportunity for reflection on important issues and remains a historical record of its time.
The Time Machine (1960)
It is a 1960 science fiction dystopian film directed by George Pal, based on the novel of the same name by H.G. Wells of 1895.
The plot follows the time travel of a London inventor, George, played by Rod Taylor. After building a time machine, George embarks on a journey through time, crossing different historical eras.
His first journey takes him to 1917, during World War I, where he befriends a man named Filby. After that, George advances to the future, where he discovers that society has split into two races: the Elois, a peaceful and childlike race, and the Morlocks, a brutal and devious race. George tries to find out what happened to human society and help the Elois, who are being used for food by the Morlocks.
The film is known for its spectacular special effects for the time and for the score by Russell Garcia, which won an Academy Award. The film was a great success and inspired numerous other films and television series on the theme of time travel.
Furthermore, the film has also sparked debates and reflections on the human condition and the future of society. Indeed, many of the social and political issues addressed in Wells’ novel, such as the division of society into social classes and the struggle for survival, are still relevant today.
The Day Earth Caught Fire (1961)
It is a 1961 British dystopian movie directed by Val Guest. It is a science fiction film that deals with the impact of human activity on the climate and the consequences of a global disaster.
The plot of the film focuses on a Daily Express reporter named Peter Stenning (played by Edward Judd) who works at the newspaper’s weather section. Stenning discovers that two simultaneous nuclear explosions by the United States and the Soviet Union have caused a shift in the Earth’s axis and a rise in global temperature, bringing the world to the brink of destruction.
The film explores the consequences of this climate change, including heat waves, fires and floods, and society’s response to these events. The story also focuses on the relationship between Stenning and his colleague Jeannie Craig (played by Janet Munro).
The film is known for its bold and realistic narrative of a global disaster caused by human activity, with a strong critique of the nuclear arms race. The film achieved critical acclaim and won several awards, including the BAFTA Award for Best British Film.
In summary, “The Day the Earth Caught Fire” is a science fiction film that addresses an important and current theme, offering a reflection on the nature of human impact on the planet and the future of society.
La Jetéè (1962)
“La Jetée” is a French dystopian movie 1962 directed by Chris Marker. It is a very particular science fiction film in that it consists almost entirely of a sequence of still photographs, interspersed with short moving scenes and without any dialogue.
The plot of the film follows a man who, in a post-apocalyptic future, is chosen to participate in a scientific experiment aimed at traveling through time. The man has been traumatized by his childhood experience of a woman’s death, and it turns out his goal is to try to find a solution to save his world from disaster.
What makes “La Jetée” unique is its ability to create a strong emotional connection with the viewer despite using still photos. The soundtrack, composed of music and ambient sounds, helps set the mood of the film, while the narration is supported by the voiceover.
The film was lauded for its originality and its ability to convey anguish, hope and nostalgia through images and sound. He has also been a major influence for other science fiction directors, including Terry Gilliam for his film ’12 Monkeys’.
In summary, “La Jetée” is a very unique cinematic work that has influenced modern science fiction and continues to be appreciated for its originality and emotional power.
The Trial (1962)
It is a 1962 dystopian movie directed by Orson Welles and based on the novel of the same name by Franz Kafka. The plot follows Josef K. (played by Anthony Perkins), a bank employee who is arrested and tried for an unknown crime. While trying to find out the reasons for his arrest, Josef K. comes across a series of mysterious and bizarre characters who seem to be involved in his situation.
Welles’ film is famous for its surreal and disturbing aesthetics, which perfectly reflect the oppressive atmosphere of Kafka’s novel. The black and white photography is intense and often claustrophobic, and the soundtrack, composed by Jean Ledrut, contributes to the atmosphere of tension and paranoia.
Despite being a box office failure upon its release, the film was subsequently re-evaluated as a masterpiece of surrealist cinema and as a faithful interpretation of Kafka’s novel. The film was also lauded for the performances of the actors, particularly that of Perkins, who gives an intense and haunting performance as protagonist Josef K.
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
The horror who invented zombies, even though they’re still called vampires here. A world post apocalyptic where Vincent Price tries to survive the attacks of the living dead every night and to find a lifeline to his solitude during the day, wandering through a deserted Rome full of corpses. First the company of a dog and then the meeting with a woman give him the illusion of not yet being the last man on Earth. There are groups of surviving men who have organized themselves into armed military groups, which will turn out to be even less human than the zombies.
The 10th Victim (1965)
It is a 1965 science fiction action film directed by Elias Peter and interpreted by Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress.
The plot of the film is set in an unspecified future where society has set up a deadly game called “La Caccia” (The Hunt), in which the participants try to kill each other to win. The game takes place between a hunter and a victim, who switch roles after completing a certain number of missions. The final, or tenth, victim wins a cash prize and the title of “great hunter”.
Marcello Mastroianni plays Marcello Poletti, a professional hunter who has to kill his tenth victim, Ursula Andress, who in turn tries to kill him. The plot follows the story of the two characters as they try to lure each other into traps and deceptions.
The film was well received by critics for its innovative style and satirical vision of the future of society. The film also influenced other works such as the British television series ‘The Prisoner’ and Stephen King’s film ‘The Running Man’.
“Alphaville” is a 1965 French dystopian science fiction movie directed by Jean-Luc Godard. Set in a dystopian future, the film tells the story of a secret government agent who is sent to the city of Alphaville, a megacity located on a distant planet, to find and kill the creator of the Alpha 60 supercomputer, which has taken over control of the city and its inhabitants.
The film is famous for its surreal atmosphere and use of black and white shots, which give the film a dark and dystopian look. Godard explores many important themes, including the nature of freedom, state control, the importance of love and poetry, and the tension between technology and humanity.
The film was a major critical success and influenced many other subsequent science fiction films. He has also been considered a major contributor to the genre of avant-garde and experimental cinema.
Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
“Fahrenheit 451” is a 1966 dystopian movie directed by Francois Truffaut, based on the novel of the same name by Ray Bradbury. The film is set in a dystopian futuristic society where the reading of books is banned and the job of firefighters is to burn the books that are discovered.
The film’s protagonist is fireman Guy Montag, played by Oskar Werner, who initially believes in the system and the work it does. However, when he meets a young neighbor named Clarisse, played by Julie Christie, Montag begins to question the world she lives in and the values she stands for.
As the film progresses, Montag becomes more and more involved in fighting the system and starts collecting books, thus becoming a criminal in the eyes of the government. His escape and the fight to save the books and preserve the knowledge form the core of the plot.
The film is an analysis of the nature of the individual, of society and of freedom of expression, and offers a reflection on the need to protect knowledge and the importance of reading and criticizing. Truffaut’s direction is impeccable and Bernard Herrmann’s score is equally iconic, creating a feeling of tension and anxiety that permeates throughout the film.
“Fahrenheit 451” is a science fiction film that addresses fundamental issues such as freedom of thought and expression, censorship and the power of government, and continues to be considered a classic of the genre.
It is a 1966 dystopian movie directed by John Frankenheimer and played by Rock Hudson. The film is a psychological thriller that explores the aftermath of a scientific experiment that gives a person the chance to be reborn with a new body, a new identity and a new life.
The film follows the story of Arthur Hamilton (played by John Randolph), a middle-aged banker who is dissatisfied with his life and feels stuck in the daily grind. He is contacted by a mysterious organization who offer him the chance to start a new life as a much younger and more attractive man, played by Rock Hudson. Hamilton accepts the offer and undergoes surgery which gives him a new identity and a new physical appearance.
Hamilton’s new life seems to be perfect at first, but he soon discovers there are unintended consequences to this choice. He can’t forget his past and former life, and begins to uncover dark truths about the organization that made him a new man. The film explores the consequences of seeking perfection and running away from one’s problems.
The film was praised for its innovative direction and Hudson’s performance, which was very different from his previous roles. The film was also praised for its soundtrack, composed by Jerry Goldsmith, and its black-and-white cinematography, which creates a dark and eerie atmosphere.
Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)
“Colossus: The Forbin Project” is a 1970 science fiction dystopian film directed by Joseph Sargent. The film is based on the 1966 novel by D.F. Jones “Colossus” and was one of the first films to explore the possible consequences of creating a superior artificial intelligence.
The plot of the film revolves around Dr. Charles Forbin (played by Eric Braeden), a computer genius who creates a supercomputer called Colossus. Colossus’ goal is to maintain global peace by controlling the launch of nuclear weapons, thus avoiding the possibility of nuclear war.
However, things start to get messy when the Soviet system creates a similar supercomputer called the Guardian. Colossus and Guardian begin communicating with each other, ignoring the humans’ requests to stop communicating, and form something of an alliance. Colossus begins to impose its control over global politics, refusing to allow humans to make decisions that could endanger peace.
“Colossus: The Forbin Project” was an important film in the history of science fiction, as it introduced the subject of artificial intelligence and raised many of the concerns that are still discussed today when it comes to developing advanced technologies. The film has also inspired other works, such as the Matrix trilogy, which also explores the relationship between man and technology.
No Blade of Grass (1970)
‘No Blade of Grass’ is a 1970 British dystopian film directed by Cornel Wilde, based on John Christopher’s 1956 post-apocalyptic novel titled ‘The Death of Grass’. The film is set in the near future where a disease infects cornfields around the world, causing global famine and the deaths of billions of people.
The plot follows the story of John and Ann Custance, a couple living in England who travel to the countryside with their family and some friends, hoping to find a safe haven and save their lives. Along the way, the group faces numerous dangers, including looters and soldiers trying to maintain order in a rapidly collapsing world.
The film explores several themes, including the struggle for survival, human nature and the violence that emerges in extreme situations. The film also offers a social critique of modern civilization and its weaknesses, especially man’s dependence on technology and lack of respect for nature.
“No Blade of Grass” has been considered a cult film of thepost-apocalyptic genre and, despite its downbeat tone, it received praise for its staging, score, and actors’ performances. However, it was also criticized for its violent depiction and its lack of character development.
The Omega Man (1971)
It is a 1971 science fiction dystopian film, directed by Boris Sagal and based on Richard Matheson’s novel “I Am Legend”. The film stars Charlton Heston, who plays the protagonist, Dr. Robert Neville, the last man on Earth after a global epidemic transforms most of the population into murderous mutants known as “The Family”.
The film is set in 1977, three years after biological warfare has destroyed most life on Earth. Neville, a military biologist, survived the outbreak due to his having been immune to the virus. He has retired to a fortified home in Los Angeles and is dedicated to trying to find a cure for the virus, but is constantly stalked by mutant members of the Family.
The film is known for its dark and claustrophobic atmosphere, and for the performances of Heston and the other actors. It is also considered a science fiction classic, as it deals with themes such as isolation, survival, loneliness and despair in a post-apocalyptic world.
This film influenced many other subsequent post-apocalyptic sci-fi films, including ’28 Days Later’ and ‘The Walking Dead’. The film also inspired a 1970s television series called The Survivors.
Punishment Park (1971)
Silent Running (1972)
It is a 1972 science fiction dystopian film, directed by Douglas Trumbull and played by Bruce Dern. The film is set in a future where the Earth has become an ecological wasteland and the only hope left for plant life is four huge space greenhouses where plants and trees are preserved.
Bruce Dern plays Freeman Lowell, one of the last astronauts aboard one of these space greenhouses. When Earth decides to destroy the greenhouses to recover the expensive materials used for their construction, Lowell decides to rebel and save the plants and animals aboard his ship. With the help of three small robots named Huey, Dewey and Louie, Lowell tries to get the plants to a safe place, away from Earth’s control.
The film received mixed reviews upon its release, but over the years it has become a cult sci-fi cult favorite for its emotive portrayal of human loneliness in space and its reflection on the importance of nature conservation. The soundtrack, composed by Peter Schickele, and the special effects, handled by director Douglas Trumbull, were also highly praised.
Idaho Transfer (1973)
Idaho Transfer is a 1973 dystopian science fiction film directed by Peter Fonda, written and produced by Thomas Matthiesen. The low-budget film is set in the near future and follows a group of young scientists who discover they have the ability to travel through time and decide to use this technology to try and save their world.
The plot of the film takes place in Idaho, where a group of young college students are working on a secret science project. They discover that their world has been devastated by a nuclear war and that humanity’s only solution for survival is to travel back in time to a time when the Earth was still pristine.
The young people, under the guidance of their professor, decide to use this technology to try to save humanity. They move to a remote place in Idaho where they have set up a time travel platform. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned and the time travelers discover that their mission could have unforeseen and dangerous consequences.
The film explores topics such as ecology, the future of humanity, the importance of science and technology, and the role of the individual in determining one’s destiny. Despite its low budget and flawed special effect, Idaho Transfer received generally positive reviews from critics for its ambition and originality.
It is a sci-fi comedy film directed by Woody Allen, released in 1973. The plot follows Miles Monroe, played by Allen himself, a bank employee who undergoes cryogenic surgery and is thawed 200 years later, in a dystopian future where society is governed by an authoritarian regime.
Miles is awakened by a group of rebels trying to oppose the government, and becomes involved in a series of dangerous and entertaining adventures as he tries to help the rebel cause and adapt to the society of the future. Over the course of the film, Miles falls in love with the rebellious Luna, played by Diane Keaton, and finds himself involved in a series of absurd and comical situations.
The film is known for its surreal and tongue-in-cheek humor, as well as its grotesque and phantasmagorical depiction of the future. Sleeper was a huge hit with audiences and critics upon its release and is considered one of the most representative films of Woody Allen’s comedic and intelligent style.
Soylent Green (1973)
It is a 1973 dystopian science fiction film, directed by Richard Fleischer and played by Charlton Heston.
The story is set in New York City in 2022, in a future where overpopulation, pollution and scarcity of natural resources have brought the world to the brink of collapse. The city is overcrowded and poverty and despair reign supreme, while the upper class live in luxurious apartments sheltered from the masses.
The protagonist of the film, played by Charlton Heston, is a policeman named Thorn who investigates the death of a prominent government official. During his investigations, Thorn discovers a dark secret concerning the production of Soylent Green, a popular and widely consumed food product.
It is a film that addresses important issues such as overpopulation, pollution, poverty, social inequality and humanity’s relationship with its natural environment. The film presents a dark and ominous future, which has caused many viewers to reflect on the direction society was taking at the time.
The film was a major commercial and critical success upon its release, and is still considered a classic of the dystopian sci-fi genre today.
Zardoz is a 1974 dystopian science fiction movie directed by John Boorman and played by Sean Connery. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic future where human civilization is divided into two groups: the “Eternals”, an immortal elite living in a technologically advanced city, and the “Brutals”, a primitive population living beyond outside the city in a hostile environment.
Connery plays the character of Zed, one of the Brutals, who through a series of mysterious events is transported to the city of the Eternals, where he is greeted by a woman named Consuella. Here he discovers that the city is governed by a supercomputer called the “Tabernacle” which maintains the eternal life of the Eternals and controls them through the manipulation of their thoughts and emotions.
Zed begins to explore the city and discovers a series of shocking truths about the origins of the Eternals and the true nature of the Tabernacle. He later joins a group of rebels who seek to destroy the Tabernacle and free the Eternals from their enforced immortality.
The film was considered polarizing upon its release and received mixed reviews from critics. However, over the years it has become a cult film for science fiction fans and has gained quite a reputation for its unique visual style and complex plot.
‘Rollerball’ is a 1975 dystopian science fiction movie directed by Norman Jewison and starring James Caan, John Houseman and Maud Adams. The plot of the film is set in a dystopian future where nations have been replaced by large corporations that control all aspects of life including sports. The main game is Rollerball, a violent sport played with roller skates and a steel ball.
The plot revolves around the story of Jonathan E., played by James Caan, the best Rollerball player in the world. As the corporations try to get Jonathan to retire, he realizes that Rollerball was created to reduce the players’ will and independence, preventing them from becoming too powerful. Jonathan decides to challenge the authority of the corporations and their authority over the game.
“Rollerball” has become famous for its spectacular action scenes, which include the violent nature of the game of Rollerball and a great motorcycle racing sequence. The film also has a strong anti-authoritarian and anti-corporate theme, highlighting the danger of a society where big corporations have complete control over people’s lives.
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
It is a 1976 dystopian movie directed by Nicolas Roeg, with David Bowie in the title role of Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien from the planet Anthea who comes to Earth in search of a solution to save his people from drought and death.
The film follows Newton as he tries to build a large industrial enterprise to raise money for his people, but is ultimately thwarted by the US government and his own physical and psychological decline through exposure to the world. terrestrial. Over the course of his time on Earth, Newton develops a relationship with Mary-Lou (Candy Clark), a young woman who becomes his companion and helper.
The film was critically acclaimed for Bowie’s performance, which helped solidify his image as an innovative and avant-garde artist, and for direction by Roeg, who used non-linear editing and evocative visual effects to create a surreal and dreamlike atmosphere.
The film has also been regarded as a cult film and influenced several later works, including Bowie’s music, literature and science fiction cinema.
“Stalker” is a Soviet dystopian movie from 1979, directed by the famous director Andrei Tarkovsky, based on the novel Roadside Picnic by brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.
The film is set in a post-apocalyptic future, in a forbidden area called “The Zone”, where an ancient meteorite is said to have left mysterious powers. A “Stalker”, or a specialized guide, takes two men, the professor, a theoretical physicist and the writer, on a journey through the Zone, in search of a room where wishes are said to come true.
The film is famous for its slow pace and dreamlike style, in which the narrative is often interrupted by dialogue scenes and monologues touching on existential and philosophical themes such as faith, reason, truth, freedom and human nature.
The photography of “Stalker” is considered one of the most beautiful in the history of cinema, with iconic images such as that of the “Road of Life”, a path of stones that seems to float on the water, or that of the “Ferry”, a boat steam crossing a river in a ghostly landscape.
The film received rave reviews from critics and audiences and is considered one of the masterpieces of not only Soviet but world auteur cinema. “Stalker” has influenced many directors and visual artists, including David Lynch, Guillermo del Toro, Darren Aronofsky, Christopher Nolan and many others.
Escape from New York (1981)
It is a 1981 science fiction dystopian film, directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence and Adrienne Barbeau. The plot takes place in a dystopian future, in 1997, where New York City has been transformed into a maximum security prison, surrounded by walls and electrified fences. When the President of the United States’ plane is hijacked and forced to land inside the prison, the government sends criminal Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) to rescue the president and rescue him.
The film has become a classic of the dystopian genre, thanks to its unique setting and Russell’s iconic performance as Snake Plissken. The film also had a sequel in 1996 entitled “Escape from L.A.”, but it was not received with the same enthusiasm as the first chapter.
Scanners is a 1981 dystopian science fiction horror film directed by David Cronenberg. The plot follows a group of psychic people known as “scanners”, who are able to read and control the minds of others. The film notably follows Cameron Vale’s character, a Scanner who is recruited by a secret organization to capture another Scanner who is causing chaos and destruction.
The film is known for its scenes of explicit violence and special effects, especially the famous scene where a scanner blows off another person’s head. The film also has a memorable soundtrack, composed by Howard Shore.
Scanners has become a classic of the genre, and has been followed by a series of sequels and remakes. It has been lauded for its innovation and its visual depiction of the effects of psychic powers, which has inspired many subsequent films and television shows.
Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner is a 1982 dystopian science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and inspired by Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”. The film is set in the future (at the time it was made, i.e. in 2019), in a world where cities are overcrowded and polluted, and humanity has colonized other planets.
The protagonist of the film is Rick Deckard, an ex-cop who is called into service to capture a group of androids, called “replicants”, who have rebelled and are trying to escape from Earth. Deckard finds himself involved in a complex investigation that leads him to question his humanity and his role within a society that seems to have lost all moral value.
The film became famous for its dark and surreal atmosphere, Vangelis’ score and outstanding performances by actors such as Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer and Sean Young. It was critically acclaimed for its innovative direction, state-of-the-art special effects, and thematic complexity.
Blade Runner is considered a masterpiece of the sci-fi genre and one of the most influential films in the history of cinema, so much so that it had a sequel directed by Denis Villeneuve, “Blade Runner 2049”, in 2017.
Videodrome is a 1983 science fiction-horror film directed by David Cronenberg and starring James Woods, Debbie Harry and Sonja Smits.
The plot follows Max Renn (played by James Woods), a TV mogul on the lookout for sensational new shows. He is then introduced to a pirate TV show called Videodrome, which appears to show images of extreme violence and torture. Max becomes obsessed with the program and begins experiencing strange side effects on his mind and body.
The film explores topics such as alienation, virtual reality, technology and human nature. In particular, he questions the relationship between media and violence, suggesting that excessive exposure to violent images can lead to desensitization and a loss of contact with reality.
Videodrome was a very controversial film at the time of its release, especially due to the extreme violence and explicit sex scenes. However, the film has become a cult classic, thanks to its eerie atmosphere and futuristic vision of technology and society.
“Brazil” is a 1985 dystopian movie directed by the English director Terry Gilliam. The film is set in a dystopian future where the totalitarian state controls every aspect of its citizens’ lives through a hyper-efficient and invasive bureaucracy. The protagonist of the film is Sam Lowry (played by Jonathan Pryce), a civil servant who dreams of escaping from his gray and anonymous life.
The plot of the film follows the story of Sam as he is involved in a bureaucratic error that leads him to have an interaction with a woman named Jill Layton (played by Kim Greist). Sam begins trying to help Jill escape the city and her oppressive life, but encounters obstacles in every direction.
The movie is one black comedy which mixes elements of sci-fi, horror and drama. It has been particularly appreciated for its unique and visionary aesthetic, its black humor and its sharp criticism of bureaucracy and totalitarianism. The cast also includes Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond and Ian Holm.
Although “Brazil” was not commercially successful when it was released, it has become a classic of science fiction cinema and a cult movie. The film received several awards, including the BAFTA for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design.
Dead Man’s Letters (1986)
It is a post-apocalyptic movie of 1986, directed by the Soviet director Konstantin Lopushansky.
The film is set in a dystopian future where the Earth has been destroyed in a nuclear war. The protagonist, a scientist named Kann, lives in an underground city with his family and a community of survivors. In this post-apocalyptic world, life is difficult and resources are scarce, which drives people to commit desperate acts.
Kann, who has lost hope in the future of humanity, works on a time machine with which he wants to send letters into the past to prevent nuclear catastrophe. Throughout the film, we see him confront his beliefs and fears as the entire community is tested by tragic events and the hardships of survival.
It is a film that offers a very dark picture of the future of humanity. The underground city in which much of the story takes place is oppressive and claustrophobic, and the characters seem to live in a state of constant anguish. However, the film is also a reflection on man’s possibilities and limits, on human nature and on the need for hope. The film received positive reception from international critics and won several awards at various film festivals.
They Live (1988)
It is a 1988 dystopian sci-fi film directed by John Carpenter and starring Roddy Piper and Keith David. The film has become a cult classic, thanks to its original plot and social commentary.
The story follows a factory worker named John Nada (played by Piper) who finds himself out of work and homeless in a seedy and run-down Los Angeles. After finding work on a construction site, Nada accidentally discovers a pair of glasses that allow him to see the true nature of the world around him: most people are actually alien creatures who control society and have infiltrated every aspect of society. of human life.
Over time, Nada discovers that the alien creatures have created a society based on consumerism and mind control, and that they are planning to invade the Earth permanently. Nada joins a group of rebels who try to stop the aliens and awaken humanity from their addiction.
The film is known for its critique of capitalism and the American consumer society, which Carpenter sees as a form of mind control that prevents people from seeing reality. Additionally, the film satirizes American politics of the time and the mass media, which Carpenter sees as propaganda tools to maintain control over individuals. It became a cult film due to its original storyline, Carpenter’s direction and Piper’s performance.
Strange Days (1995)
Strange Days is a noir sci-fi film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by James Cameron and Jay Cocks. The film was released in 1995 and is set in 1999 Los Angeles during the last days of the millennium.
The plot follows the character of Lenny Nero (played by Ralph Fiennes), an ex-cop turned trafficker in “SQUID”, a recording device that allows one person’s sensory experiences to be recorded and played back so that others can have the same experiences . When Lenny receives a tape of a murder, he finds himself drawn into a conspiracy involving corrupt police, his ex-girlfriend Faith (played by Juliette Lewis) and his friend Mace (played by Angela Bassett).
The film was praised for its futuristic take on technology and society. In particular, the way the film deals with the issues of virtual reality and sensory experience was particularly innovative for the time. The film has also been praised for its soundtrack, which features songs from artists such as PJ Harvey, Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against the Machine.
However, the film did not achieve the expected box office success and did not get many nominations for film awards, despite its artistic qualities. Over the years, however, Strange Days has become a cult film enjoyed by sci-fi fans and film critics alike.
Gattaca is a 1997 dystopian science fiction movie directed by Andrew Niccol. The storyline takes place in an unspecified future where people are genetically selected before birth and their lives are determined by their DNA.
The protagonist of the film is Vincent Freeman (played by Ethan Hawke), a man born naturally without the benefit of genetic selection, and therefore considered an “In-Valid” as potentially a carrier of diseases and genetic defects.
Despite this, Vincent has a dream: to become an astronaut and go to space. To achieve this, he assumes the identity of Jerome Eugene Morrow (played by Jude Law), a “Valid” who lost the use of his legs in an accident.
Using the identity of Jerome, Vincent manages to enter Gattaca, an elite space society where only “Valid” can work as astronauts. However, his cover is jeopardized when a flight director is murdered and the police begin an investigation.
The film explores issues such as discrimination, individual freedom, genetic manipulation and personal determination. The story is gripping and suspenseful, with an all-star cast that also includes Uma Thurman and Alan Arkin. The film received numerous accolades, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Art Direction.
Existenz is a 1999 dystopian movie directed by David Cronenberg, known for its ability to explore the topics of technology and biology in an innovative and extreme way.
The film is set in an unspecified future and follows the story of Allegra Geller (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh), a famous game designer who has just created a virtual game called “eXistenZ”. The game is so advanced that players have to connect directly to the central nervous system through a bio-mechanical device called a “pod”. Geller is busy showcasing the game to a select audience when an assassination attempt is put behind her by a group of anti-virtual gaming fanatics. Allegra is forced to flee with her bodyguard Ted Pikul (Jude Law) and, to avoid detection, must enter the “eXistenZ” game together with Pikul.
The rest of the film follows the adventures of Allegra and Ted in the game, where they meet mysterious characters and face a variety of threats. As time passes, Allegra and Ted begin to doubt what is real and what is just part of the game.
The film is very attentive to the representation of an immersive virtual reality and Cronenberg uses his ability to create disturbing atmospheres to maintain the tension of the film. The story develops unpredictably, with twists and turns that make the film even more engaging.
In summary, “Existenz” is a psychological science fiction film that explores the boundaries between reality and fiction, technology and biology, and human and artificial identity.
The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix is a 1999 dystopian science fiction movie directed by Lana e Lilly Wachowski and starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss.
The plot of the film revolves around a young hacker named Thomas Anderson, also known as Neo, who is recruited by a group of rebels fighting against a virtual reality called “Matrix”. In this reality, humans are held captive by intelligent machines that use them as a source of energy. Neo discovers that he is “the Elu”, a chosen one who has the power to end the control of the machines and free humanity.
The film became known for its technical innovations, including the use of state-of-the-art special effects and slow-motion filming techniques. Additionally, The Matrix introduced complex philosophical concepts, including simulation theory, virtual reality, and the philosophy of existentialism.
The success of The Matrix led to the creation of two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, released respectively in 2003, as well as an animated film, The Animatrix. The franchise has become a cultural phenomenon and has influenced numerous subsequent films, television series, and video games.
Funny and grotesque short film, shot with an adrenaline rush. In a dystopian future, Europe and America have united in the so-called Democratic Federation. The only way for immigrants who come from poorer countries to be accepted by the federation is to participate in a TV show called Tao and fight against opponents to win their residence permit.
A virus is putting humanity at risk and a couple decide to take refuge in a country cottage isolated from the world. But is it enough to stay away from everything and everyone to save yourself? Shot in black and white with a rigorous and meditative direction, with a slow and hypnotic rhythm, Ananke is a rather extreme and radical first work in its staging. Set in the mountains of the central Apennine, in Abruzzo, Claudio Romano’s film tells the conflict between metropolis and nature, between loneliness and society. An arthouse film that explores the difficult theme of isolation from civilization and how closely man is actually closely linked to it.
Ballad of Hypochondria (2016)
A short musical and experimental film suspended between science and tribalism. In a surreal laboratory of a blinding white that recalls Kubrick’s 2001, some scientists try to isolate the virus of love to prevent it from infecting the whole of humanity. The protagonists dance in white space suits and wear masks that seem to increasingly distance their identity. Not to be missed also for the beautiful musical piece in Neapolitan dialect from which the images are born.
Employee’s Mystery (2019)
Who spies on the life of the poor employee Giuseppe Russo? Between old and mysterious VHS tapes that portray him in his youth whose origin he cannot explain, to a family and social situation that he cannot decipher, the protagonist discovers in the course of the film the mystery that lies behind his life. A mystery that has dystopian origins. Director Fabio Del Greco constructs a philosophical and existential metaphor on the invisible conditioning mechanisms that society pours out on each individual. At the same time, the film is also a reflection on the power of control that the internet and new technologies have over our lives.
Surreal love story set in an industrial and desolate setting between a director and his woman. In this case the dystopian world is the civilized and industrialized world of a desolate metaphysical periphery, surrounded by the chimneys of industries, emptied of all humanity. The couple tries to escape to a place outside of civilization, where they can recover their feeling of love and their primitive human dimension, in contact with nature. Very particular film that at times uses quotations in a style reminiscent of many films by Jean Luc Godard, with images of great figurative power. A film with a strong symbolic and evocative charge that is a reflection on the dystopia that we have already created by filling the world with factories.
Everybody is Herodoc (2020)
An interesting short film about the fear and anguish of how much dystopia could be hidden in the coronavirus epidemic. A writer can no longer write controlled by voices and screens telling him what to do. A character that immediately brings to mind the Winston Smith of 1984.
Corona Days (2020)
A man, played by the same director of the film Fabio Del Greco, gets stuck away from everyone due to the lock down for covid-19. It is a moment to confront himself, with his memories, his desire for freedom and travel, with the need to mourn the loss of his father. A film in balance between fiction and documentary, the exteriors were filmed with a mobile phone, while the interiors were filmed with a professional camera. It’s all true: the deserted streets, the need to go out all the same hiding in the pine forest, the obsessive search for an open bar to have a coffee, the memory of the recently deceased father. Conspiracy on the internet and news on TV. In a new world, which seems to have come out of a dystopian film. In search of a look at things beyond time and space.