Jump to content
clarence

"Why is the future on film always so grim?"

Recommended Posts

[…]

 

"In dystopian films, for which Blade Runner or Judge Dredd often provide the template, there is usually very little in the way of high-quality mass transit, epicurean-quality food is hard to come by, and everyone looks as if they got their fashion cues from Alice Cooper. Also, France no longer seems to exist in the future. Women wear a lot of mascara in dystopian societies. So do men. Even in the distant future, harmless, non-threatening young people will get tattoos in a desperate attempt to make themselves look scary. And as a general rule, whenever the camera descends into the lair of the rebel nerd who is trying to stymie the forces of darkness, the geeky upstart will be working on a computer that looks as if it was designed in 1978. It’s as though the smartwatch never happened."

 

[…]

 

 

Read the rest of it here : )

 

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/mar/19/dystopian-films-blade-runner-insurgent-future-grim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The whole cyberpunk thing is basically a Marxist vision of the end of Western capitalistic civilization:  the mega-rich elite businessmen exploiting their hordes of mindless wage slaves until the oppressed proletariat, spurred by charismatic leaders, rises up to claim its freedom.  Hmmm, we've all seen how that worked out in Russia, China, Cambodia and Cuba.  Throw in 1960s and '70s era Cold War fears and you get the typical modern post-apocalyptic drama.  I helped my Mom study Marx and Engels for one of her college classes before I attempted to read Walter Gibson's novels.  When I broke open the latter, I said, "Hey, waitaminute!  I've read this all before (minus the cool gear)."

 

The Postman -- the original novel by David Brin, not the movie -- turns the genre on its head.  The protagonist restores civilization, not by leading a rebellion or by defeating an army, but by encouraging people to communicate with each other and to return to the traditional American values they'd temporarily lost faith in.  Likewise, both Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Star Trek envision mankind pushing through troubled times into an even more prosperous and advanced society.  In both sagas bad things did happen -- the Han Dominion, the Eugenics Wars -- but history didn't stop there.

 

Dystopian filmmakers, in contrast, want to hit the pause button when things are at their worst.  If they were doing Lord of the Rings, they'd end the movie with the Nazgul  bursting through the gates of Minas Tirith because elitists don't believe what the little people do matters.  It reflects a certain cynical worldview, where rebellion isn't a last-ditch defense against evil but a virtue in its own right -- because if I'm not in the top 1 percent then obviously whoever is running things is on the take.  ;)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cyberpunk-style films take a certain view and then push it as far as they can. 

 

Big Corporations rule the world, either implicitly or explicitly, people are simple resources, dollar is king (or yen or whatever) and technology is either a curse or a saviour. You could look at the modern world and see what is happening with globalisation and so on, to see that there might be a ring of truth to that. However, films take this to the nth degree.

 

A lot of these films were planned in,or made by people living in, the 70s and 80s, the time of punks, new romantics, goths and so on. That has influenced the look and feel of these films. Also, films such as Mad Max and Bladerunner have had a massive influence. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found the article lazy - and inaccurate.

 

A few technical notes: dystopian films are set in future societies where civilisation has broken down

 

 

Um, no, not always. There are plenty of dystopian films where civilization has not broken down at all: sometimes, dystopia reflects how crushingly repressive civilization can be.

 

 

But please, don't generalise... I mean, it's not like you don't have this is contemporary or historical dramas - or even right now, in real life.

 

 

I see, so those high rise mega buildings in Dredd (where all the action takes place) and Minority Report are figments of the imagination are they? Or how about Metropolis, arguably first, best and most influential of the dystopian SF films ever made?

 

A lazy, slightly snide, slightly smug article that ignores 100 years of SF before it. A typical Grauniad piece, actually.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lazy, slightly snide, slightly smug article that ignores 100 years of SF before it. A typical Grauniad piece, actually.

 

But again, there was a separate link to a Blade Runner sequel. So there's that. :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But again, there was a separate link to a Blade Runner sequel. So there's that.  :)

Ah, I wish I could agree, Rod, but I think a Blade Runner sequel is a bad idea. A terrible idea. I would have thought it a bad idea even if Sir Ridley Scott hadn't made 'Prometheus', but the fact that he did make 'Prometheus' just makes me feel that a Blade Runner sequel is the baddest of bad ideas that's been expelled from Bad Idea school for being hopelessly bad.

 

And Blade Runner's one of my favourite films - perhaps my favourite film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"... the geeky upstart will be working on a computer that looks as if it was designed in 1978."

 

The obvious reason is the time period many of the dystopian novels that inspired the movies were published in.  But there are in-story possibilities.  The most current gear is really expensive and easily traceable.  It does cool stuff but Big Brother instantly knows where you are.  On the other hand, obsolete equipment -- which can be made to work with ingenuity and an open-source OS -- is slower but also cheaper and harder for the authorities to locate since your info is saved on a hard drive instead of the cloud, is operated by ancient, arcane software almost nobody remembers anymore, and saves data to floppies (a strange name since they are stiff) instead of sending it wirelessly through the ether.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a truism that science fiction is more about the time in which it was written than the time in which it is set.  (Which is why Blade Runner belongs back in the 1980s.)

 

Also, Utopias make for dull stories.  Either you have to postulate a threat from outside the Utopia (e.g. Klingons, Sith, Daleks) or reveal the Utopia's "dark secret" (soma, Morlocks, Carousel).

 

Finally, every period has challenges that inevitably raise the question, "what if this gets worse?"  H.G. Wells envisioned European imperialism turned against Europe, so he wrote War of the Worlds.  In the 1950s the Red Scare inspired numerous alien invasion flicks.  In the 1960s-1970s civil rights and environmentalism came to the fore, so we got Soylent Green among many others.  In the 1980s corporate greed and the Internet inspired cyberpunk.  Today, we've got the persistence of Christian extremism, the rise of Muslim extremism, global warming, global recession, global terrorism, a widening gap between rich and poor ... so many catastrophes to choose from.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Optimistically, directors and authors attempt to inform, or maybe warn, the masses in the hope that they wont let it happen for real.

However, we are already living in a dystopian future, the films just dress it up in neon and lens flare.

 

I work in local government and one of the most disturbing things that happened a few years ago was that they started referring to people as resources! When they talk about redistributing resources, they aren't talking about moving tables and chairs and computers, they are talking about people as though they are tables and chairs and computers.

 

When they restructure these 'resources' they seem to be surprised to find that they don't always fit into their expected boxes. Which usually prompts another restructure...

 

Still, I love dystopia! Almost as much as apathetic nihilism and armchair anarchy :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1.  Might as well ask why all corporation use Assassins and ruthless mercenaries to get what they want instead of using Lawyers and going  elsewhere to buy what resources they want.( Like in real life)
  2.  If an "Evil " corporation when blocked from getting trees from one forests shrugs it shoulders and gets it trees from a forest a few hundred miles away there no story. If on the on  the other hand they hire hundreds of goons and use attack helicopters to get those trees ,you got a blockbuster film.
  3.  And as people have said utopia can be boring.. Imagine roleplaying in a game where there are no bad guys, no evil to vanquish or rights to wrong . How long would that last.
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

  1.  And as people have said utopia can be boring.. Imagine roleplaying in a game where there are no bad guys, no evil to vanquish or rights to wrong . How long would that last.

 

True.  But in dystopian stories the bad guys have pretty much won.  Good had its chance and muffed it.  The plucky freedom fighters lost the revolutionary war.  The Sheriff executed Robin Hood.  Lex Luthor  kicked Superman's butt and took over.  Sure, a token resistance struggles to maintain its existence, but without outside intervention from a greater power no real victory is possible.  Imagine the fate of French partisans during World War II if the Allies had lost.  Dystopias are what one discussion board GM called "crapsack worlds," where things are rotten all over.  It's the scenario of X-Men:  Days of Future Past or Batman:  The Dark Knight Returns or Blake's Seven.  If an overabundance of righteousness is boring, the triumph of evil is depressing.  If the player-characters absolutely can't win, if all their victories are ultimately meaningless and hollow, why bother?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

True.  But in dystopian stories the bad guys have pretty much won.  Good had its chance and muffed it. 

 

Where this isn't the case, is with the "apparent" utopian society that hides the truth. For example, in The Time Machine, utopia was a sham and the protagonist over through it. The same can be said of the movie version of Logan's Run. Within the dome was utopia, but it was a lie, true freedom lay outside the dome, in the ruins of the former civilization. Again, it took the protagonist to bring it down.

 

Another GREAT example is the cinematic trailer of the upcoming Tom Clancy game The Division. Its a dystopian society in every sense of the word, but the player characters are trying to make a difference. Check out the link below, its a good example.

 

 

Rod

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

  I think the apparent Utopiawith a dark underlining is more accurate for the future.

 

 Well I would not mind, but then I would refuse to accept the fact I cannot win. I look at books like Robert   a Heinlein  Revolt in 2100 or the Hunger Games. At the beginning there seems no hope of a Revolt winning but at the end the bad guys get their butt kicked.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...