I like movies. I’ve seen a lot of movies (so many I can barely remember a lot of them). Movies inspire me to write, I look back to various scenes, characters and worlds when creating my own little universes. It’s all storytelling in the end.
In the spirit of my favourite film podcast, Filmspotting, here’s five dystopian movies which have influenced me with their world building or premise. Some of these films are great, some are a bit dodgy but their settings or various scenes have influenced me.
Note: before you yell out at your screen, “hey you, where’s …?”, I ruled out anything from a famous book. This means Blade Runner, 1984, Farenheit 451, A Clockwork Orange etc are all out.
In no particular order….
Children of Men
The world where fertility is gone is a frightening premise. A great dystopian world which can be easily imagined from our current world, the familiar London streets, only grubbier, greyer and more violent. A few more things go wrong in our world and we could be facing into this.
Of course, there are the brilliant single shot sequences, the scrummy Clive Owen and a bit of Michael Caine to round it out.
Dead End Drive In
This is a weird Australian film where the dregs of society are locked inside a drive-in. The government is rounding up all the “no hopers” and locking them away. This is another familiar yet creative twist on 1980s Australia, when the economy was struggling and millions were out of work. The acting is dodgy, there are loads of explosions and heaps of 1980s Australian celebrity cameos. But what intrigued me is the premise of taking an everyday activity (like a drive-in) and turning it into a tool for tyranny.
I found this film very cold, but love the mixture of hard boiled noir in a dystopian world. There are no out there sci-fi or futuristic sets or costumes. It’s 1960s France with a twist. The gravelly voice of Alpha 60, the sentenient computer system, is chilling and ingrained in my memory.
How can you look past the grandmaster of all dystopian movies? The art design, the costumes, the story line. It rocks and it’s almost 80 years old. What else can I say?
The Omega Man
Controversial? Is this post apocalyptic or dystopian? The opening scenes are the most influential, empty Los Angeles with Charlton Heston driving around, watching the Woodstock doco in the abandoned theatre utterly alone. This was the first time, I felt the eeriness of a city with no people. Reminds me of a time I was in a London tube carriage all on my own. Spooky. Yes, this is based on I Am Legend, so I could be breaking my own rules here. Oops.
As you can see from this list, I’m a bit art-house, but I’m comfortable with that.
What other dystopian movies have influenced you?
Too many and I always mix dystopian and post-apocalyptic so a rough list could be:
– V for Vendetta: Dystopian, powerful, engaging, deep, brilliant characters, Evey Hammond is probably my most loved heroine ever.
– Doomsday: Post-apocalyptic, a zombie take with a twist that focuses on people instead of the zombies themselves and a major kick-ass heroine.
– Judge Dredd: Not the silly one with Sylvester Stallone, but the 2012 version with Karl Urban. I consider this is both post-apocalyptic and dystopian and true to the spirit of the Judge Dredd character.
– Ghost in the Shell: Pretty much everything from there and I adore both the standalone anime movies and the “Stand Alone Complex” TV series. As dystopian as it gets and even post-apocalyptic and/or post-cyberpunk. Major Kusanagi is a strong heroine, both smart and deadly, respected and feared. I find the concept of a ghost fascinating and the way it’s used in all the animated works is amazing. One thing I love about these anime works is that they demand attention and thoughtfulness; the writers are not afraid to dab deep into philosophical discussions at any point.
Anyway that’s more or less my list. I have more but I can’t remember them right now. 😀
Nice one. I’ll have to search out Doomsday. Ooh directed by Neil Marshall. I love The Descent and of course, 28 Days Later.
Wow! What an eclectic collections of films. Well done. I like 1 and 5. The other 3…I have never heard of and I consider myself quite the film nerd. Will have to check them out. What do you think about the film Book of Eli or The Road? Dystopia is where it’s at! How about Bladerunner? Would you consider that movie dystopic? It’s certainly a future I want no part of. Pretty much why I never travel to LA or NYC.
Thanks JW, I haven’t seen Book of Eli and with The Road, I liked the book better. Bladerunner is one of the dystopian classics. I left it out because it is such a classic and a famous book too.
It’s funny that dystopian movies are generally set in cities, where as post apocalyptic movies are generally a road movie.
Good call. The Road was in fact far better than the movie. The movie…was actually pretty painful to endure. I only did so because I liked the book so much.