Moviegoers have always turned to Science Fiction (sci-fi) for a glimpse of the future. Sometime it's an idealistic future and other times it's one that should be feared.
A decade ago, a trio of speculative sci-fi movies that depicted different cynical futures were released and the themes inherent in the films have earned them a dedicated following.
Today, the relevance of these three stories has greatly increased given the changing political landscape in the real world.
They are each cautionary tales that now seem closer to becoming reality than ever before and there's never been a better time to watch these three speculative films from the past about our possible future.
1.Children Of Men
- Directed By: Alfonso Cuaron
- Box Office: $69,959,751
- Notable Oscar Nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing
- Mirrored Issue: Brexit and immigration
Based on the novel of the same name by P.D. James, Children Of Men tells the desperate story of a dying human race. In a world suffering from a mysterious global infertility event, Theo (Clive Owen) escorts Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), the first woman to become pregnant after 18 years, out of a crumbling Britain to give humanity's last hope a chance.
The political themes and haunting imagery in Children Of Men were aimed at the War On Terror and the Bush administration's questionable policies (such as the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gharaib), but they are sadly still relevant today.
Children Of Men takes place in a xenophobic and fascist United Kingdom (UK) - a version of the country similar to the one some people fear will rise from what has become known in the real world as Brexit.
Recently, the UK voted in favor of withdrawing the nation from the European Union (EU). The vote for the UK to exit (hence "Brexit") has been blamed on many things, but one standout issue is the Brexit camp's strong anti-immigration and foreigner stance. Ever since the country voted in favor of the Brexit referendum, there has been a rise of hate fueled, anti-foreigner incidents, and demands for more closed-border policies and security from the right wing side.
The aggression got so high that anti-Brexit lawmaker Jo Cox was killed by a right wing terrorist who believed in the ethos of Nazism.
Though ghettos like ones seen in Children Of Men have yet to become a reality on Britain's shores, many fear the possibility of such things and the inhumane treatment of immigrants as tensions continue to rise.
Meanwhile, in the United States, similar worries have risen to the surface since Donald Trump began his campaign to run for President more than a year ago. Trump has made many alarming comments about immigrants and people of the Muslim faith throughout his campaign and an aide of his casually suggested that Muslims be detained in interment camps because of their religion.
Even more concerning is the fact that many "alt-right" (read: white supremacist) groups have been vocal about the fact that they feel they've found a voice in Donald Trump.
The Brexit camp and Trump's transition team have since distanced themselves from these hateful incidents. Only time will tell if they will maintain this stance by drawing a clear line between themselves and violent extremists, or if they end up normalizing this level of hate like the systematic oppression seen in Children Of Men.
- Directed By: Mike Judge
- Box Office: $495,303
- Mirrored Issue: The American presidential campaign and American society
Due to a lack of education and countless misplaced priorities, Idiocracy's take on America has been dumbed down to laughable lows. Years into this future, Corporal Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson) awakes from an experimental cryogenic sleep device. He soon learns that his otherwise average intellect makes him the smartest man on this new planet of the dumb and humanity's only hope at a future.
During the heated American presidential campaign, many used Idiocracy as a metaphor for America -- particularly Donald Trump's supporters. The most common argument against the reality star-turned-president-elect was that he was pandering to the uneducated side of America. Bolstering this claim was Trump's infamous quote where he openly declared his love for the "poorly educated" during a rally in Nevada.
Like Trump, President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (Terry Crews) in Idiocracy was a celebrity before being voted into office. While Trump made his name as a real estate mogul and reality TV star with a few guest appearances in the WWE, Camacho rose to fame with a career as a wrestler and a porn star.
Despite their differences, there are many frightening similarities between Trump and Camacho. In fact, the film's writer, Ethan Cohen, even became creeped out by those similarities during Trump's campaign at one point and tweeted:
However, it would be unfair and condescending to generalize Trump's supporters as "dumb" or "uneducated" because they do have some concerns to air, but the level of willing misinformation on their part is what many find disturbing.
Idiocracy (check out the trailer above) mocked anti-intellectuals by showing a logical extreme where people dismissed reading as "gay" and legitimately thought that energy drinks would be good for plants. The nearly brainless population of Idiocracy could become a reality if the culture of ignorance and misinformation is fostered and nurtured instead of confronted.
3. V For Vendetta
- Directed By: James McTeigue
- Box Office: $132,511,035
- Mirrored Issue: The state of Philippine politics
Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, V For Vendetta follows Evey (Natalie Portman) as she bears witness to the enigmatic terrorist V (Hugo Weaving) embarking on his crusade to topple a tyrannical British dictatorship that has overstayed its welcome.
Though V For Vendetta takes place in the UK (watch one of the defining moments from the film below), the growing number of similarities its fictional dictatorship has with the Philippines' own government are frightening. (Take it from someone who hails from the Philippines when I say that Norsefire is an eerie reflection of my homeland and its dark history with a Cold War era dictator.)
In the movie, the formerly fringe right-wing Norsefire party rose to power after taking advantage of the public's fear of terrorism, which spiked after Norsefire itself manufactured a terrorist attack. It would be decades before anyone rose up and challenged Norsefire's dictatorship defined by abusive law enforcers, state sanctioned murders and fear-mongering.
Those were also the defining features of the Philippine's Marcos regime before it was unseated by a popular protest in 1986.
However, instead of discrediting Ferdinand Marcos' inhumane legacy, the current Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, worships Marcos as a hero and his administration's current current policies are beginning to mirror those of the deceased dictator. Specifically, a blatant disregard for human rights and the president's constant threats to abolish human rights as a response to criticism have garnered a lot of attention.
Add to that the manipulation of information that constantly feeds the president's supporters with the week's convenient enemy to blame all their woes on, and Noresfire's fear-mongering tactics in the film feel more real than they ever have for a modern audience.
It would be a stretch to say that the current populist governments would herald a future as desolate as the ones depicted in the above films or even the wastelands of Mad Max: Fury Road, but the fears and concerns explored in each are very real.
Moviegoers love speculative fiction and dystopian tales because they show a possibility that some may consider too implausible to even consider. But never in their wildest dreams did these same viewers think that they would live in an oppressive future society reminiscent of The Purge.
Yet as cynical as these futures may be, one aspect viewers overlook when watching dystopian movies is the essence of hope. Despite the dark worlds their characters live in, all three of the movies listed here ended on surprisingly hopeful notes. As unsure times creep upon the world, the encroaching darkness should not discourage those who believe in what's right and those who can see through the lies espoused by those in power. On the contrary, it should embolden them to fight back.
Winter may be fast approaching, but the dreams of spring have yet to be snuffed out.