Erik’s Top Ten Dystopian Movies
The Tens List: In the need of some Doom and Gloom? Here is my Top Ten Dystopian Movies of all time.
Alot of people go to the movies to escape, and be distracted by something entertaining, often times light hearted and fun. I am not one of those people. I like to see struggle and people eating it worse than me in my movies, so here is my top ten dystopian movies of all time:
10. Mad Max 2
This movie is the second installment in the Mad Max film series, with Mel Gibson starring as Max Rockatansky. The film‘s tale of a community of settlers moved to defend themselves against a roving band of marauders follows an archetypical “Western” frontier movie motif, as does Max’s role as a hardened man who rediscovers his humanity when he decides to help the settlers.
written and directed by George Miller. The non stop action and elaborate vehicle stunts make this movie a must see.
9. Dark City
Dark City is a tale of mythic proportions about one man’s battle to reclaim his destiny.
John Murdoch (Sewell) awakens alone in a strange hotel to find that he is wanted for a series of brutal murders. The problem is that he can’t remember whether he committed the murders or not. In fact, most of his memories have completely vanished, and for one brief moment, he is convinced that he has gone stark raving mad.
Pursued by Detective Bumstead (Hurt), Murdoch seeks to unravel the twisted riddle of his identity. As he edges closer to solving the mystery, he stumbles upon a fiendish underworld controlled by a group of ominous beings collectively known as The Strangers.
These shadow-like figures possess the ability to stop time and alter people’s perceptions — a process known as Tuning. Through an evolutionary anomaly, Murdoch is also imbued with this power and thus, he alone is able to resist The Stangers’ control over his mind.
And for that, he must be destroyed.
With the help of the inscrutable Doctor Schreber (Sutherland), Murdoch is able to stay a step ahead of his adversaries while he slowly pieces together the labyrinthine puzzle of his past — his bittersweet childhood, his love for his estranged wife Emma (Connelly) and the key to a hideous series of murders which he is suspected of committing.
Amazing visuals add to the creepy cyber punk esque theme of this film. It certainly warrants multiple views to appreciate the many nuances of this movie.
8. Farenheit 451
the Ray Bradbury novel, Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature that paper will burst into flame.
Oskar Werner plays a fireman who does not put out fires, but who searches out books and burns them. Books make people unhappy.
In a parody of social correctness, all discordant strains are removed.
The world is a lonely one of separate people in which Werner begins to read the books before burning them.
An amazing story that is still very relevant 47 years later.
7. Planet of the apes
While traveling some 2,000 years through time and space, four astronauts crash-land on an unknown planet. After finding the female of their quartet dead, the three male survivors cross the barren wasteland of this dystopian planet until they encounter a tribe of mute sub-humans living amidst lush vegetation.
They are set upon and captured by uniformed riders on horseback, who, much to the astronauts’ horror, turn out to be sentient gorillas. One of the astronauts, Dodge, is killed and his body placed in the simian museum of natural history; another, Landon, is subjected to a frontal lobotomy; the third, George Taylor, who has been rendered speechless by a throat wound, is placed in a hospital cage. Taylor, although aware that he is a prisoner in a society where humans are treated as beasts, persuades the sympathetic chimpanzees, psychologist Zira and her archeologist fiancé Cornelius, that he can speak, read and write.
Intrigued by the possibility that man may be the missing link in the evolution of the ape, Zira and Cornelius spare Taylor from experimental vivisection, intending to mate him with a female captive, Nova. Taylor eventually regains his power of speech and is able to communicate with the apes. Chief of state Dr. Zaius, an orangutan, is outraged by Taylor’s unexpected abilities and demands that he be silenced by a lobotomy. Deeply resentful of the infringement upon their freedom of thought by the orangutans, the intellectual ruling class of the ape planet, Zira, Cornelius and their young assistant, Lucius, help Taylor and Nova escape.
The group travels to the Forbidden Zone, a vast, deserted territory in which Cornelius had found human artifacts during an archaelogical dig, including a human-shaped doll that says “Mama.” When they are pursued by the ape militia, led by the war-like gorillas, Taylor seizes Dr. Zaius and threatens to kill him unless he orders the soldiers to retreat. Zaius, after confessing that he has long been aware of man’s reputation as “the harbinger of death,” permits Taylor and Nova to continue into the Forbidden Zone, provided that they never return with evidence of their superior human culture. Some distance down the coastline, Taylor discovers the half-buried remnants of the Statue of Liberty and yells with rage as he realizes the destructive destiny of man’s civilization.
Certainly a very campy movie, with an excellent story line, lock yourself in for a weekend, make some popcorn and watch the whole series. The Mark Wahlberg remake can be skipped but Rise of the Planet of the Apes is quite good and I am looking forward to the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Joss Whedon—the Oscar-and Emmy-nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel—now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in a dystopian future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity.
The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire abroad his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family- squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.
When Mal takes on two new passengers—a young doctor and his unstable, telepathic sister—he gets much more than he bargained for. The pair are fugitives from the coalition dominating the universe, who will stop at nothing to reclaim the girl. The crew that was once used to skimming the outskirts of the galaxy unnoticed find themselves caught between the unstoppable military force of the Universal Alliance and the horrific, cannibalistic fury of the Reavers, savages who roam the very edge of space. Haunted by vastly different enemies, they begin to discover that the greatest danger to them may be on board Serenity herself.
You don’t need to watch the short lived Firefly series to enjoy this movie, as it stands on its own, However I strongly recommend it
5. The Terminator
Post-apocalyptic 2029 Los Angeles; an indestructible, invincible, inhuman cyborg Terminator T-800 (Schwarzenegger) is sent back from the future year 2029 to 1984 to eliminate Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), who will one day be the mother of a son (an off-screen John Connor) who will lead a human Resistance movement-rebellion against the evil cyborg leaders of Earth’s future. At first, the killing machine mistakes other ‘Sarah Connors’ located in a Los Angeles telephone book for the real one and eliminates them. Another teleportation time traveler to 1984 is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), a nuclear holocaust survivor who volunteers for the future John Connor on an opposite quest to rescue and save innocent Sarah’s life and ensure the conception and delivery of a son (who becomes a Resistance leader and his future boss!). He inadvertently fathers the child himself.
The first two flicks in this series is a must see. Salvation also is worth a watch, However the other movies in this series aren’t worth your time.
Just as George Orwell’s 1984 is an dystopian alternate vision of the past, present and future, so “Brazil” is a variation of Orwell’s novel. The movie happens in a time and place that seem vaguely like our own, but with different graphics, hardware and politics. Society is controlled by a monolithic organization, and citizens lead a life of paranoia and control. Thought police are likely to come crashing through the ceiling and start bashing dissenters. Life is mean and grim.
Brazil is loaded with special effects and a great cast. Terry Gilliam’s amazing imagery is on full display in this movie and as the story can be a bit confusing, perhaps intentionally, This dark comedy get you scratching your head.
3. The Matrix Trilogy
Let’s start with the basics. If you’ve seen The Matrix, you know all about the surface story – how Artificial Intelligence created a computer construct (The Matrix) of OUR present day world and, through a hardwire directly into the brain, fed it to us humans who were, in reality, kept in incubators and used for their energy output as a power source for the Artificial Intelligence. In other words, our “reality” exists ONLY in our minds.
Everything we “experience”; everything we “do” – it’s all just a dream! But a small band of FREED humans live in the real world and fight against the subjugation of mankind by the machines. Their ultimate goal is to destroy The Matrix and end the domination of the machines. How do they go about doing this?
They find a man within The Matrix (Thomas A. “Neo” Anderson) who develops the ability to defeat the Artificial Intelligence within the Matrix and begin the process of restoring man to his rightful place as THE sentient species on the planet. The Matrix is a very fine high-tech, futuristic, sci-fi action flick. But,…..look deeper,…..there is so much more going on in this film ……..
Yes, I can hear the angry typing already. Sure the Wachowski bro.. uh. siblings shit on the first film‘s legacy with two sequels filled with plot holes that was filled with more style than substance. But it had style in spades. The story was solid enough and not nearly as bad as the film detractors would have you believe, but the stunning visuals and amazing choreography puts this film in my top ten movies of all time.
2. V For Vendetta
V for Vendetta is about a man, his quest for revenge and his desire to right the wrongs in his society. The story takes place in dystopian England 1997. It is a world changed by war, famine and disease. In response to these changes, the government also changes. It is a fascist dictatorship, which uses extensive means to control the people. As a result, the populace slinks into a mode of enforced contentment, making no effort to take back their freedom.
The Fifth of November
The gunpowder treason and plot
I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot
A truly beautiful adaption of Alan Moore’s graphic novel. A story that is frighteningly plausible and flows like poetry, coupled with incredible imagery and a deft score, V is explosive and will resonate with you.
1. A Clockwork Orange
Stanley Kubrick dissects the nature of violence in this darkly ironic, near-future satire, adapted from Anthony Burgess’s novel, complete with “Nadsat” slang. Classical music-loving proto-punk Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his “Droogs” spend their nights getting high at the Korova Milkbar before embarking on “a little of the old ultraviolence,” such as terrorizing a writer, Mr. Alexander (Patrick Magee), and gang raping his wife (who later dies as a result). After Alex is jailed for bludgeoning the Cat Lady (Miriam Karlin) to death with one of her phallic sculptures, Alex submits to the Ludovico behavior modification technique to earn his freedom; he’s conditioned to abhor violence through watching gory movies, and even his adored Beethoven is turned against him. Returned to the world defenseless, Alex becomes the victim of his prior victims, with Mr. Alexander using Beethoven’s Ninth to inflict the greatest pain of all. When society sees what the state has done to Alex, however, the politically expedient move is made. Casting a coldly pessimistic view on the then-future of the late ’70s-early ’80s, Kubrick and production designer John Barry created a world of high-tech cultural decay, mixing old details like bowler hats with bizarrely alienating “new” environments like the Milkbar. Alex’s violence is horrific, yet it is an aesthetically calculated fact of his existence; his charisma makes the icily clinical Ludovico treatment seem more negatively abusive than positively therapeutic. Alex may be a sadist, but the state’s autocratic control is another violent act, rather than a solution. Released in late 1971 (within weeks of Sam Peckinpah’s brutally violent Straw Dogs), the film sparked considerable controversy in the U.S. with its X-rated violence; after copycat crimes in England, Kubrick withdrew the film from British distribution until after his death. Opinion was divided on the meaning of Kubrick’s detached view of this shocking future, but, whether the discord drew the curious or Kubrick’s scathing diagnosis spoke to the chaotic cultural moment, A Clockwork Orange became a hit. On the heels of New York Film Critics Circle awards as Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, Kubrick received Oscar nominations in all three categories. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi
A Clockwork Orange may seem a bit tame these days with our over exposure to violence in the media, However Kubrick’s camera work here may have been the best of his career. The use of wide angle camera lenses to give the viewer the perception that they are viewing the world through Alex’s eyes hits its mark. To this day I can debate the philosophical questions that this film raises and uncover new layers. That is how deep this story is, and exactly what is the message of this film? Kubrick uses many neat tricks to paint Alex as some sort of anti hero despite the horrible actions he commits. Is Kubrick saying that in a world where society is criminal, the citizen might as well be a criminal, too?