Science fiction and fantasy has always thrived on the “what if”. From the earliest days of the genre, writers and filmmakers found inventive ways to view the future. As a result, there have been thoughtful and positive portrayals of technology helping mankind as well as dark, distressing tales of science/species run amok. Thanks to Hollywood and its way with vision, some of the first movies ever traded on these tenets. Georges Méliès gave us out first trip to the moon while Fritz Lang found a metropolis that functioned as a metaphor for man’s place within the social machine. There’s have been planets overrun by robots and societies stuck in human sacrifice, worlds where aliens and human share an uneasy coexistence and governments who’ve reduced war to an athletic/video game competition. In each case, a cautionary approach is taken with the material. The moral warns us of allowing our ambitions to go unchecked and unfocused.
The result has been some of the best, most thought provoking entertainments of all time. In recognition of our number eight choice on the list (now out on Blu-ray and DVD), we’ve decided to run through our own personal top ten—examples of dystopias that defy easy description and yet get their pragmatic/philosophical points across with ease. There’s a caveat, however, an exterior concern if you will. Since many of these films rely on the secrets within their society to forward their message, we are going to be spoiling quite a few. There’s a big fat SPOILER ALERT is in place, just as a precaution. If you don’t want to know what ‘soylent green’ really is, or if the reason behind the dark city’s noir nightmare, check out the movie before moving on. Otherwise, enjoy these glimpses of what could be and why it will happen. They may not be predicting the actual path we will take as hiding present truths in glossy, high tech possibilities. In either case, it’s never a truly pretty picture: