Most people know what a utopia is. A utopia is a society or world that is perfect, in which no societal problems exist and everyone is happy. However, in almost all works, be it literature or film, a true utopia is not achievable. In each instance there is always one key component at minimal that deteriorates the utopia. These societies than become a dystopia. Often these issues are related to dehumanization, population control, totalitarian governments, and other such major societal declines. The recent success of The Hunger Games franchise is introducing a younger generation to the ideas posed by dystopian works. Lois Lowry’s popular 1993 novel The Giver is also set to be turned into an upcoming film. The aim and purpose of such works is to help people reflect on important sociologic, ethical, and philosophical issues, and help prevent such futures from happening. Often these novels and films take place after some manmade environmental disaster.
With dystopian films on the rise, we thought it only appropriate to look back at works of the past, and compile a list of our favorite top 10 dystopian films.
Did your favorite not make the list? Have any thoughts on the topic? Let us know in the comments below!
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[ new page = 10: 1984]
Starting off our list at number 10 is 1984. The film was released in 1984, and is based upon George Orwell’s novel of the same name. The film revolves around Winston Smith and his life in a world where the supreme “Big Brother” constantly watches thoughts and rewrites history as it see fit. When Winston begins an affair with a fellow free-thinking woman, their lives are changed forever.
[ new page = 9: Metropolis]
At number 9 comes 1927’s Metropolis. The film depicts two separate classes, the wealthy and the working class. Main character Freder realizes the plight of the working class, and must work to unite the city into a more understanding and humane world.
[ new page = 8: WALL-E]
At number 8 is Disney’s 2008 film, WALL-E. While robotic WALL-E is left to clean an abandoned earth, the human race resides on a utopic spacecraft, living life’s so easy and gluttonous that they can no longer walk on their own. The film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature that year.
[ new page = 7: The Purge]
Coming in at number 7 is 2013’s The Purge. The film has gathered a cult following, and a sequel is set to be released this year. The film depicts a utopic America, with low crime and unemployment rates, due to a once a year event in which all crime (murder, rape, theft, etc.) is legal.
[ new page = 6: The Matrix]
At number 6 is 1999’s The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves as protagonist Neo. The film is famous for its special effects techniques, and is the winner of numerous Academy Awards among other recognitions. Neo lives in a world that is really an artificial reality created by the matrix. The matrix considers humans to be a plague on the earth, and uses their electrical activity and body heat to power itself while enslaving their minds.
[ new page = 5: Escape from L.A.]
At number 5 is 1996’s Escape from L.A.. In the film a presidential candidate deems L.A. a city of sin, and preaches a very devote moral agenda. Shortly after being elected president, he makes an amendment to the Constitution, making his position permanent. Anyone who does not adhere to his moral laws are exiled to L.A.
[ new page = 4: Elysium]
At number 4 comes 2013’s Elysium. The film depicts a ravaged Earth and a utopic space habitat that revolves around the Earth. The film is notable for its portrayal of themes including overpopulation and health care. Starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, the film depicts an earth in which the working class are overseen by robots, and the citizens of the spacecraft Elysium have regular access to machines able to cure any ailment.
[ new page = 3: Blade Runner]
Breaking into the top 3 comes 1982’s Blade Runner. The film takes place in a dystopian Los Angeles in 2019. Genetically engineered organic robots, called replicants, have been outlawed on Earth and Blade Runners are hired to hunt them down.
[ new page = 2: Soylent Green]
Placing in at number 2 comes 1973’s famous, Soylent Green. The film begins as a police investigation during a time in which the world is desperately overpopulated and depleted of resources. Through the course of events, we discover the secret behind soylent green, the most popular source of food.
[ new page = 1: Logan’s Run]
Finally at number 1 we have 1976’s Logan’s Run. The film depicts a utopic world in which everyone lives a hedonistic life of materialism and sexual pleasure up until the age of thirty. Once thirty, citizens are forced to go to carrousel to be “renewed.” Those who are aware that carrousel is really a form of population control try to escape the city and are known as “runners.” When Logan, employed to catch these people, is himself a candidate for carrousel, he must become a runner and discover the brutality of the world he once lived in.