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7 Must-Watch Dystopian Films That Will Make You Think About the Future of Our Society

Posted by on August 9, 2016 in Films & TV, Media & Arts with 0 Comments

Sofia | Learning Mind

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The world “dystopia” is a combination of greek words, and translates to a “bad place”. It is the opposite of “utopia”, meaning a perfect place. A dystopia is generally thought to be a version of the world in the future, in which something has gone terribly wrong, resulting in massive population losses, extreme poverty, low fertility rates, and/or extensive genetic mutation.

Most dystopic universes feature a totalitarian government as a result of the destructive factors, increase of religious sentiments, and manipulative tactics and social engineering that result in manipulating and oppressing large percentages of the population, which is kept in the dark about the real circumstances, while the ruling class enjoys numerous privileges, eliminating anyone posing a threat in the process.

The sub-genre of futuristic dystopian societies (generally contained within the larger genre of science fiction) has always been popular, but recently became increasingly mainstream due to the success of Young Adult franchises such as The Hunger Games and the Divergent series. There are, however, literary and cinematic works that were the foundation of dystopian stories, long before the popular teenage heroes emerged. Those works will always be relevant, even after decades have gone by. Here are some of them.

1. 1984


Everyone knows about George Orwell’s literary classic. It might be the single most popular and renowned work of dystopian fiction. Terms such as thoughtcrime are used in everyday language sometimes, and everyone is familiar with the inverted principles of the book’s totalitarian regime: “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength”.

1984 depicts the story of Winston, a man living in this totalitarian society, and his illicit affair with Julia, a rebellious young woman. The film and, of course, the book, are so haunting and depressing not just because of the society they show, but because of the frightening parallels between that society and our own.


2. A Clockwork Orange


The infamous Kubrick adaptation of Anthony Burgess‘ similarly infamous novel might seem a bit peculiar for this list, as it doesn’t check most of the classic “dystopian fiction” boxes, but it deserves a place for the in-depth and controversial exploration of the issues of morality, violent behavior, and the State’s ways of rehabilitation.

The movie points a finger not only to the government and the correctional system, which torture and take away the character’s “capability of moral choice”, but also on society as a whole; debates on rehabilitation and correctional policies rage to this day, with the debate on capital punishment topping it all off. If a society uses conditioning to strip criminals of their amorality, but also of their morality, conscious choice, and character, ergo the core of what makes us human, is it not a dystopian one?

3. Fahrenheit 451

By Ortheza on DeviantArt.

By Ortheza on DeviantArt.

Ray Bradbury‘s novel was published in 1953. The film, directed by top-notch french director Francois Truffaut, followed 13 years later and remains a must-see (and a must-read, of course). It was Truffaut’s only English language film and his first in color.

In this world, the government has requested the systematic burning of books, without exceptions. The people employed to carry out the burnings are called “Firemen”, and our protagonists, Guy Montag, is one of them. He lives an ordinary existence until he meets a young girl, who causes him to question the purpose of his profession, and become suspicious of the government’s desire to eradicate books. It is a film adaptation of a book outlining the importance of books in the human spirit and soul, as a cause of personal development. Inception-y, maybe. But enlightening nonetheless.


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