Dystopia. Apocalypse. Cinema has triggered and challenged our imagination time and again with the concept of an anarchic or autocratic future for about half a decade now.
Orwell’s 1984 – made into a movie way back in 1956 – is perhaps one the earliest depictions of a chaotic future. It’s a tale of societal breakdown with a totalitarian power at the helm while individual freedom is scoffed at.
More recent films, directed towards a younger and restless generation, focuses on the concept of ‘survival of the fittest’ in a post-Apocalyptic world. Notable movies series of this genre are The Hunger Game, Divergent, and Maze Runner.
The list I have here is a bit different though. The movies listed below definitely don’t fall under ‘Big Budget’ or even ‘independent’ labels.
So here goes my list of 6 under-rated sci-fi dystopian dramas which no one – other than megalomaniacs – would want to become real!
- Code 46 (2003):
Code 46 gives us a look at a Dystopian future where health-related technological advancements has the ability to control human life. It is essentially a love story which sheds light on how technologies like cloning, advanced knowledge of genetics- which are commonplace occurrences in the movie – can adversely affect our existence.
Code 46 also encapsulates the idea of a common exchange process between countries and a globally cosmopolitan workplace and the growing divide between ‘Have Beens’ (Insiders) and ‘Have Nots’ (Outsiders).
- Gattaca (1997):
The central technological aspect of Gattaca is eugenics. In a futuristic society, children are conceived through genetic manipulation – i.e. eugenics – to create individuals with the best hereditary traits of their parents. Vincent Freeman, is born out this genetic programing and tries hard to overcome genetic discrimination to fulfill his dream of traveling to space.
Gattaca also has elements of biometrics – an obvious fallout of its premise – the technological know-how of which was still in its nascent stage. To that end, Gattaca was a pioneer of sorts, as far as futuristic sci-fi drama is concerned.
- Demolition Man (1993):
Ok, you might ask why is this movie in the list! It’s a cheesy science fiction. The answer is pretty simple. This is a ‘cult’ list.
Jokes apart, just consider the number of tech elements in Demolition Man. Between the years 1996 and 2032, all of the following is happening!
- Police runs ‘thermal scans’ – i.e. measures body heat levels – on a building to figure out if there are any people (hostages) in it.
- Criminals are incarcerated in a ‘Cryo-Penitentiary’ where they are cryogenically frozen.
- They are rehabilitated through ‘subconscious conditioning’ during their ‘deep freeze’ state.
- A villain feigning as a nice guy is controlling human behavior and helping psychopaths break out of their cryo-prison without ever getting near them!
This futuristic action thriller is not a great movie but you’ve got to give credit to the ideas on which the Dystopian society of ‘San Angeles’ was hinged!
- 12 Monkeys (1995):
Okay. 12 Monkeys is part Apocalypse and part Dystopia. Depends on how you would like to see it.
In 1996, a mysterious virus has wiped out almost all of humanity off the face of Earth. The year is 2035 and James Cole is one of the few survivors, living as a prisoner in an underground shelter. He is chosen for a mission which entails him to go back to 1996 and find out all that he can about the virus so scientists can find a cure. Instead, he lands up in wrong time-lines – twice over – where he can’t remember anything about his future existence.
The movie juggles themes of time travel, memory and adversities that might be triggered by technological advancements. Though time lines can’t be manipulated as easily just yet, it is nonetheless a not so distant possibility.
- Idiocracy (2006):
This is funniest movie on the list. Imagine a completely dumbed-down Dystopia where the ‘Average Joe’ is the smartest man alive because he knows water, and not sports drinks, can grow crops! This one act of ‘intelligence’ gets him elected as the President of the United States.
The technological high-point of the movie is the botched ‘suspended animation experiment’ which lands Corporal ‘Average Joe’ Bauers in the stupid society where people live in plastic huts called ‘domistile’ and speak on in ‘registers of English’. For instance, it’s a ‘masheen’ not machine!
Oh, and in case, you are wondering what’s ‘suspended experiment’, it’s the ‘slowing or stopping of life processes by exogenous or endogenous means without termination’. Watch this laugh riot to get a clearer picture.
- District 9 (2009):
This one is one of those rare alien movies that don’t indulge in mindless CGI effects and gimmicks. In 1982, humans ‘rescue’ a handful of aliens from a stranded space ship in Johannesburg, South Africa. The ship, however, continues to loom over the city’s skyline. The aliens are rehabilitated in a Government camp titled ‘District 9’. Over the years, the aliens increase in number and live in ghetto-like conditions dealing in all sorts of shady activities.
What follows is a well-told story of man’s vanity, civil unrest, illegal scientific experiments (rings a bell?) carried out by seemingly white organizations and an unexpected bond between the main protagonist and an alien trying to go back to his own planet. You have got to see the film to understand and admire the metaphorical and literal after effects of what a dystopian future could be like.
As far as technology goes, there’s not much to write home about other than the advanced weaponry developed by the aliens. If ever the Marines take up guns like that, God save the world!
Can you think of any other cult classic which can be added to this list? Let us know in the comments below.
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P.S: ‘Derf’, are you reading this?