I am currently reading the classic, 1984, by George Orwell and it got me thinking about other dystopian works. I recently recalled watching Total Recall (the original with Arnold), no pun intended, and couldn’t help but thinking just how recently a lot of dystopian works have been released, both literary and cinematic. In addition, it got me thinking about my favorite dystopian films and it is important to set the parameter as to what is considered a dystopian film. I consider a dystopian work as one that shows a society set in the future marked by a controlling, oppressive power that results in poverty, pollution, violence, or corruption.
Demolition Man , starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes, was made in 1993 and centers around the Los Angeles area in the year 2032. Apparently after a massive earthquake in 2010, the city of Los Angeles and San Diego merged together to form San Angeles. San Angeles is a place where it seems as though all crime has been eliminated due to very strict laws outlawing basically anything that could be considered immoral or dangerous. The plot centers around a police officer, John Spartan (Stallone), and criminal, Phoenix (Snipes), who fight during the 1990’s. After an incident that kills several civilians, they both get cryogenically frozen and are later thawed in 2032 after their sentence ends. These two then must cope with the “utopian” future where any sort of vice is outlawed and everybody lives lives that seem to be eerily happy and content. However, it is later revealed that they are restricted of many things and this new future has created an underground society that lives much like life before all of the advancements. Spartan helps the San Angeles Police Department to catch Phoenix as the police department alone do not know how to deal with a criminal from the past, a seemingly alien world in comparison to their present. This movie beautifully shows the effects of what seems to be a utopia can actually be quite the opposite. The restrictions and laws passed in order to try and make the world a safer place end up putting the civilians in a place of ignorance, where they only know one way of life. I recommend this movie for fans of action movies.
Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise, is set in the Washington DC area in the year 2052 and is directed by Steven Spielberg. The society is full of technological advancements and in fact the police department is able to detect crimes before they even happen, known as PreCrime. Tom Cruise’s character, John Anderton, is the Captain of this unit and he then becomes the victim of this very system one day. The Department of Justice tries to outlaw this PreCrime unit from going nationwide and then it is predicted that John will murder someone in 3 days. John tries to hide the case and flees because he believes that it is a set up from the Department of Justice. The PreCrime system is fueled by three psychics and it is explained that they all see different versions of the future but the one that is published for PreCrime is the version that is agreed on by two of the three. The “Minority Report” is the version of the future only seen by one of the psychics and these are usually ignored and thrown away. John kidnaps Agatha, one psychic that is more prone to seeing the Minority Report, and tries to hid from the massive manhunt trying to arrest him for a murder he hasn’t even committed yet. The rest of the movie follows this plot line and explores the idea of free will and determinism. This movie shows the flaws of a society that is too controlling and tries to streamline everything through technological advancements while exploring existential concepts. The idea of a future of being accused of something that is in the future is scary because then it implies that there is no free will in the world. This is an excellent movie and is highly recommended for sci-fi thriller movie fans.
Total Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger tells the story of a Douglas Quaid, a construction worker from Earth, in the year 2084. The movie starts off with him waking from a dream he has where he is exploring Mars with a mysterious women that keeps appearing in all of his dreams. He tells his wife that he wants to go and visit Mars, because at this point in the future Mars has been colonized. Due to riots from rebels and inhabitants, his wife says that going to Mars on a vacation would be too dangerous. Discouraged, Quaid goes to work and on his way learns of a company that can implant memories into your mind and it would feel as though you actually did whatever they implanted. He decides to sign up for a trip to Mars as a secret agent but before the procedure can be done he starts to violently react and storms out of the laboratory. He goes home and is then attacked and almost killed by his “wife” who turns out to be working for the governor Cohaagen. He is then suddenly confused as to why everybody is trying to arrest and kill him. However, he finds a video of himself directed toward himself where he is called Hauser. Hauser tells Quaid to go to Mars and find the rebel leader Kuato. The rest of the movie continuess Quaid’s journey to Mars to find Kuato while he struggles realizing whether he is in a dream or not. The dystopia in this film could be both Earth and the colonized parts of Mars. On Earth, the politicians are corrupt and seem to control every aspect of the peoples’ lives through surveillance and connections. On Mars, the groups that are wealthy or that have political connections live fabulously and don’t have to worry about the things that the lower classes do. The lower classes live in areas that aren’t completely blocked from the radiation due to malfunctional shields and they resort to more illegal economic activities for income. Out of this anger and frustration for their living situation, some people formed rebel groups to take down the higher class that s solely concerned with mining operations.
Dystopia’s remind us about the corruption that could arise from the depths of humanity and the consequences of such actions. They can also be used to compare our current society with that portrayed in the works and just how eerily close we can get to the dystopia through only a few small steps. When I watched I, Robot for the first time, this image that Sonny the Robot drew is what stood out to me the most. Now, whenever I hear dystopia this is the image that pops up immediately in my mind. I think it is because it consists of a large quantity of humanoid figures looking to a singular figure in the distance below a bridge out of hope. They hope for a better future and are desperate, but nobody knows where that figure or bridge will take them. Unfortunately, this desperation and longing for hope is what drives people to societies that often oppress them or take advantage of them.
Hello everyone! It is February now which means that one thing in particular is approaching quickly, Valentine’s Day. Yes, the day where people are either elated with the fact that they are spending it with their special someone, or people are jealous/sick of the happy people. I recently read a poem called A Work of Artifice by Marge Piercy, and it is about how some men take down and constrain women through the norms of society. It also suggests that some men do nice things expecting nice things in return, but I am here to say that love isn’t really about that. Love isn’t about receiving, it’s about giving for the sake of that special person.
Now with it being Valentine’s Day pretty darn soon, I have decided to compile my favorite movies about romantic love, whether it be a romantic or romantic comedy. I am the type of guy that lives and breathes action films, especially those from the 80’s. I mean, I have my autographs of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Harrison Ford up in my room, and I don’t know how many times I have seen Rambo: First Blood. However, I do have a soft spot for romantic comedies and romantic films. Here is my compilation of my favorite romantic/romantic comedies that I have seen so far:
I have decided to start off with my favorite “chick flick” of all time. No joke, I have probably seen this movie more than my girlfriend. In fact, she gave me the DVD to me as a part of my Christmas present because she was surprised I didn’t have it. I love this movie. I love this movie for a combination of things: Ryan Gosling, the story, the setting, and the dialogue from the movie. Ryan Gosling is one of my favorite actors for movies like Drive, Gangster Squad, and this movie. I first saw this movie because my girlfriend wanted to watch it when we first started dating around two and a half years ago. Ever since, I have seen this film quite often because not only is it frequently on TV but because it is a top notch film. The chemistry between Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling is so phenomenal and believable. The romantic mood and tone of this movie is only supported by the landscape and scenery of North Carolina’s marshes.
For those of you who haven’t seen this movie, it is one of those movies where there is one outer storyline and within that storyline another story is being told, in this case through a notebook. The movie is about an elderly man, Noah, who is at a retirement home and wakes up everyday to tell his wife with dementia, Allie, a story. He tells her the story of their love but everyday she forgets who he is or who the story pertains too. While reading the story, Noah doesn’t tell her they are the people in it and he hopes one day she will remember on her own. Now, the story of their love begins in their teenage years where young Noah, played by Gosling, tries to ask out a young Allie, played by McAdams. From there, the story continues on to cover their teenage love until problems arrive between the two with parents and their personal lives. To not ruin the story, I will just say that they get reunited and the movie continues on from there. And yes, there is the scene where they argue about writing to each other and its raining.
Jerry Maguire is the movie with the famous quote, “You had me at hello.” This movie is great and one of Tom Cruise’s best performances. This movie has an A list of actors including Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr, and everyone’s favorite child actor Jonathan Lipnicki (the kid from Little Vampire and Stuart Little). One of my favorite aspects of this movie is the humor in the movie provided by Lipnicki as the cute little kid and Cuba Gooding Jr. The plotline follows a young, ambitious sports agent named Jerry Maguire, played by Cruise, obsessed with his job who eventually realizes that his firm is doing it wrong by being obsessed with the money and not the personal care of their clients. Thus, he sends a memo to everyone with his own mission statement for the firm and basically gets fired for trying to change things for the better. One of his coworkers also decides to leave, and she does it because she loves the message he is trying to promote. She is a single mother, played by Zellweger, with a child, Lipnicki, who struggles on whether she should be involved with Jerry. Jerry on the other hand, also doesn’t know whether he should be involved intimately and work with this women as he hates being alone but realizes she is special. The movie tracks his struggles to balance work with his lone client (Gooding Jr.), his love for her, and his own personal emotions. The ending of this movie is quite emotional and climactic that is perfectly wraps up the whole movie.