Dystopian MOVIES

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Dystopian MOVIES

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Sep 4, 2008, 11:10am

For all of the dystopian lovers, what are your favorite dystopian movies - whether they were books first or not?

Here are some of my favorites:
Gattaca -my all-time favorite
Fahrenheit 451
Minority Report
Soylent Green

Sep 4, 2008, 12:07pm

Fahrenheit 451 is one of the few dystopian movies that work for me.

It is said that many of the books shown in the movie came from Truffaut's library. One story (not sure if it is true) is that Fahrenheit 451, the book, appears fleetingly in the movie.

Sep 4, 2008, 12:18pm

The movie version of The Road is slated to be released in the US in November.

It's got Viggo Mortensen and Guy Pearce in it, so I probably won't complain much. Of course, the book didn't really do it for me to begin with...

Sep 4, 2008, 12:52pm


Sep 5, 2008, 1:15pm

What about Children of Men? That was pretty dystopian. I think there may be a book as well, though I haven't read it.

Sep 5, 2008, 3:23pm

>5 jlelliott:

Yeah, there's a book. I haven't read it and the film didn't do much for me, but here's a touchstone for the record: Children of Men

Sep 5, 2008, 4:21pm

Viggo Mortensen and Guy Pearce

I'm there. It doesn't even have to have sound at this point.

Sep 6, 2008, 10:43am

>4 Unreachableshelf:, Hear, hear! Brazil is awesome!

>6 Unreachableshelf:, I too was really disappointed by the Children of Men film.

Edited: Sep 6, 2008, 11:07am

Children of Men,the film was not very good,and quite unlike the excellent book.P.D. James only attempt at Dystopia,was I thought very good indeed. Much more futuristic than the film and a lot more in it.Please don't be put off,go read the book.
The film version of On the Beach by Nevil Shute was,I think quite as good as the book,albeit both were most depressing. That proves,I suppose that they worked.
Author touchstones not working I'm afraid.

Sep 6, 2008, 1:26pm

#7, Bookmarque: *rofl* (*whispers: Me, too!*)

Children of Men was my favourite film of 2006. I don't know what made it so remarkable for me --maybe the fact that it is a European dystopia? That the things I got to see are very close to my own world (as opposed to US cinema, which is, well, an ocean away ;-) ).

On the Beach, now... I read the book on a train, and if it hadn't been a highspeed train, where the windows couldn't be opened, well, I'd have sent it flying. You may read my angry outburst here.
The 1959 version didn't do much for me, but that was probably because I saw the 2000 TV film earlier, which really attempted to update the story (my opinion here).

Sep 7, 2008, 7:14pm

oh, yeah, love Gattaca and Brazil...

then there's the movie of The Handmaid's Tale.

Sep 8, 2008, 8:40am

For me, many translations of dystopian books to film just don't work. They miss the subtlety of the original. So, I go for more over the top films like Terminator, Escape from NY and No Escape.

Sep 11, 2008, 10:09pm

Metropolis! Hands down. Don't get the doped up version with the rock soundtrack. Or, if you do, watch it on a black and white TV with the sound off.

Incredible after all this time.

Sep 12, 2008, 12:07pm

Last year I took a course on dystopian literature, and the prof didn't like any of the movie versions of the books we were reading. So instead, he showed us Brazil. I loved it and it's now on my list of really great movies.

Sep 12, 2008, 2:47pm

"Children of Men" book and movie have very little in common. Didn't much like either.

"Fahrenheit 451" took some interesting cinematic license with the book (with the added attraction of Oskar Werner).

"On the Beach" scared the hell out of me when I read it during the Cold War. It's probably lost a lot of its punch in the intervening years. And I think notions about assisted suicide have added some baggage to the book that wouldn't have been there 40 years ago.

Sep 12, 2008, 2:57pm

Brazil is my favorite movie of all time... regardless of theme.

I'm sure I'll get trashed on this but I quite liked "V for Vendetta". The book was better but how often is that not the case?

Sep 12, 2008, 3:02pm

nohrt4me: Oskar Werner, yes :-). I haven't seen the film in ages, but I just checked and my library has it, sooo....

On the Beach and the Cold War: I was born at the end of the 1960s and grew up in the heartland of the Cold War (Germany), so the topic was something that was always "there" for me in my youth. The latest film version spoke to me much more than the book and the older version, because in these I had to work through layers of old-fashioned characterisations, which *really* annoyed me. The 2000 version still makes me cry like I had lost good friends, even after the 10th viewing or so. The others don't.

Sep 12, 2008, 10:10pm

GirlFromIpanema, I grew up in the 1950s, so I'm interested to know what layers of old-fashioned characterizations you saw there.

I didn't know there was a 2000 movie version of "OTB."

Isn't Oskar Werner great? I thought he'd died decades ago because the last movie I saw him in was "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" (not a dystopian).

He and Peter Lorre are among my favorites. In fact, had they been more of an age, Lorre could have been Werner's evil twin in some unwritten dystopian. Directed by Fritz Lang, of course!

Oct 23, 2008, 12:39pm

I just watched War, Inc., which is presented as a dystopian novel, though it is quite obviously a satire of the war in Iraq. But then, what dystopia isn't a kind of satire?

Oct 23, 2008, 12:50pm


Oct 23, 2008, 1:17pm

Well worth watching is the movie "Renaissance" ... it's animated/Rotoscoped, so, graphically, it's pretty amazing ... Daniel Craig provides the voice of the protagonist, who's searching for a kidnapped scientist involved with a Big Brother-ish drug company ... the plot isn't out of the ordinary, but the look of the film sure is.

Oct 23, 2008, 1:56pm

I think Blade Runner qualifies as dystopian. I do like its stylish film noir style.

Edited: Oct 31, 2008, 2:48pm

What about a dystopian TV series? And what is more, a dystopian cartoon series? Such a thing appeared on French TV in April 1968 (!) : it was called Les Shadoks and caused quite an uproar (most French people then did not understand anything about nonsense. Hardly any more do now).

If you read French, visit this site : http://perso.numericable.fr/gabuzo38/Shad_0.html

Well, the Shadoks are spiteful, incredibly silly birdlike creatures, with wings so tiny that they can hardly fly at all. They lay eggs, but their legs are so long that each time they lay an egg it breaks. So they evolve into laying iron eggs, which do not break when they fall, but still do not break when the baby Shadoks want to get out of them : so, eggs have to rust, but it takes much time and, when the baby Shadok can at last get out of its egg, it has become very old, and eventually that's no use.

The Shadoks are expert at pumping. Whether the problem is (time stops, fuel has to be stolen from their enemies the Gibis, a space-rocket has to be fired without said fuel), it can be solved by pumping, and even if pumping does not solve the problem (and of course it never does), pumping can do no harm. Anyway, as the shadok saying goes : "better pump on even if nothing happens than risk causing something worse to happen by not pumping". They rapidly take on the habit of pumping from dawn to dusk, and even when they sleep they dream that they are pumping (which is very useful, for the pump has been devised so as to be also used by a sleeping Shadok).

The Shadoks have quite a lot of sayings : "Why make things simple when you can make them intricate?", "It's by trying continually that eventually you make things succeed" (in other words : the more it fails, the more liable it gets to succeed), "if there's no solution, it means that there's no problem" and so on.

Of course the Shadok's life is hellish : they keep being at war with each other, they catch hideous diseases, they are so doggedly stupid, so noisy and so bossy that the only inhabitant (an insect) of the only hospitable planet they can find (Earth) becomes their mortal enemy and slaughters scores of them. They've got a chief who is of course the stupidest and most ferocious of them (Shadoks can be sued for not driving without a non-driving licence). Moreover they are ineducable and perseverate in their failure-doomed habits (of course : the more it fails...)

The Shadoks' dystopia is constantly opposed to the Gibis' utopia. The Gibis are little animals very difficult to describe. Their main feature is actually a bowler hat (only one of them has no bowler hat, and thus becomes crazy). The Gibis are very kind and very clever. They work out problems together and thus solve them very quickly, which allows them to spend most of their time eating, taking naps, dancing the minuet and of course making fun of the silly Shadoks (they watch their sorry adventures on TV).
But there's a rub : the Gibi's life is so easy and pleasant that it becomes somewhat boring. They realize that they have got plenty of solutions, but lack problems.

The series (four seasons of 52 two-minute episodes each) was conceived, drawn and written by Jacques Rouxel (who I think produced hardly any other works). It is entirely narrated (including the dialogues) by Claude PiƩplu, an outstanding actor (you just had to hear him once to unmistakably recognize his voice). The Shadoks themselves never utter a word : they alternately squeak, scream, wail or growl, according to their degree of rage, frustration, sorrow or occasional glee (when they happen to lay an intact egg). The Gibis are mute : I suppose they are clever enough to communicate through telepathy.

Oct 31, 2008, 3:14pm

That Shadok show sounds weird as hell, but intriguing. Something like George Saunders' novella, The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, which also has nonsensical/fantastical elements.

I wonder if "The Prisoner," the Brit TV show, also from the 60s, would qualify as a dystopian.

Oct 31, 2008, 3:41pm

As far as TV series go, I remember enjoying Survivors on the BBC in the 70s. It is having what the beeb calls a 're-imagining' due for release soon (with the lovely Freema Agyeman).

>24 nohrt4me: I didn't see The Prisoner as dystopian because all the odd stuff was contrived within a "real" world.

Oct 31, 2008, 10:09pm

>25 abbottthomas:, you may be right. I guess it's all in what you think "The Prisoner" was about.

My friends and I enjoyed watching it, and at the time, we saw the prison camp as the kind of place Cold Warriors could build on secrecy and paranoia to break people down psychologically.

In other words, the world outside the prison camp, the world that conceived and ran it, was a dystopian society.

But, then, in the late 1960s, most of us thought we were already living in a dystopian society.

Little did we know ...

Nov 1, 2008, 12:05pm

>26 nohrt4me:
".....in the late 1960s, most of us thought we were already living in a dystopian society."

Your point is well made.

I guess it was worse in the US than here in the UK but there was the scent of change in the air even if little altered in the end. I suppose if you are actually in a dystopia it becomes the norm for most of those in it - perhaps why dystopic situations survive?

Feb 24, 2010, 4:18pm

I'd like to suggest Zardoz. I remember not getting on with the actual film when I first saw it during the 80s; then last year I read the book, based on the screenplay by John Boorman, and immediately went out and bought the DVD. I certainly wouldn't have enjoyed watching it again if I hadn't have read the story first though (which is why I think the film failed).
In case anyone is unfamiliar: its a dystopian story from the viewpoint of the immortal's own society especially in their treatment of the Renegades.

Mar 5, 2010, 9:13pm

Zardoz was a mind-bleep movie. I seriously considered finding someone around here with some sort of paraphenalia or something that I could take because it was so very hard to follow. What parts I did understand were very creative and intriguing.

I liked Children of Men, perhaps because of Clive Owen (drool!!!) but also because of how dynamic the characters were.

And I ALSO liked V for Vendetta, but perhaps it is just because I was youthful and impressionable when I saw it.

Edited: Mar 6, 2010, 1:13pm

When did you last watch Zardoz if I may ask? I saw it originally when I was a kid - and just couldn't fathom a lot of what was going on (immature mind I guess?). It is a little 'way out' in the way it is filmed and suffers a bit of that 70s 'trippy' feel; but, the story really isn't that obscure if you ignore the set dressing. I think reading the novelisation probably helped; but in essence it's really not a bad concept at all and is screaming out to be remade I think.

I liked V for Vendetta too. One of the few movies that didn't feel it necessary to humanise the hero by unmasking him at the end - how I breathed a sigh of relief! Overall a nice solid little film. One of the lost gems in my opinion.

Perhaps we should start another post on one of the other general Sci-Fi groups: Lost Gems. I can think of quite a few.

Mar 6, 2010, 3:31pm

I enjoyed V for Vendetta too and I'd like to suggest the original The Time Machine, Logan's Run and more recently The Island (the touchstone shows Aldous Huxley, but I'm not sure if this is correct).

Has anybody seen The Road yet?

Jun 2, 2010, 4:11pm

I may be odd, but I liked the filmed version of 1984.

Jun 2, 2010, 8:11pm

Bladerunner would top my list. All of the movies based on Philip K. Dick novels have their dystopian aspects: Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly, etc.

Jun 4, 2010, 11:22pm

For television series, Joss Whedon's recent Dollhouse certainly qualifies as dystopian. Also, what about Logan's Run the book and the silly but fun movie? And there was a remake of Brave New World on television a few years back that actually wasn't bad. I believe that Dark Angel the television series was also a bit dystopian, but I can't completely vouch for it as I haven't seen it. What about the remake of The Lathe of Heaven on PBS a few years ago?

Jul 5, 2010, 5:26am

If TV series can be named as well, then we shouldn't forget The Tripods. It's a BBC series from the 80s, based on the The Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher.


Edited: Jul 6, 2010, 12:00am

Dystopian movies, and no mention of Soylent Green, Silent Running, or (the original) Rollerball? (Granted, this is a thread about _good_ dystopian movies, but those all held certain charms.)

And A Clockwork Orange and A Boy And His Dog need to be mentioned, as well.

Jul 6, 2010, 4:43am

#36 midikiman
I hadn't thought of Silent Running as dystopian before, but of course, the reason for their voyage was to protect the trees that had disappeared from Earth.

As it happens, I watched A Boy and His Dog last weekend. I had seen it years ago and sought it out on DVD. I love the ending.

Jul 6, 2010, 11:43am

Dark Angel was, yes, dystopian. Kind of a cyberpunk feel. At least the episodes I saw which were all in the first half of the first season.

Jul 6, 2010, 2:12pm

It's not so much dystopian as post-apocalyptic, but Panic in Year Zero from 1962 with Ray Milland and Frankie Avalon is a classic. Ray Milland is the ultimate, self-actualized family man survivor. I watched it as a kid on TV and was freaked out for years. Then, got the DVD from Netflix a couple fo years ago and, much like Vincent Price's Last Man on Earth (the first adaptation of Richard Matheson's I am Legend), it has held up surprisingly well.

Jul 6, 2010, 6:05pm

Thank you, DystopiaPress. I knew there was an adaptation of I am Legend before "The Omega Man", but I didn't know its name or who starred in it. Vincent Price, one of my favourites.

I must hunt down that DVD.


Apr 10, 2012, 5:20pm

Obviously, "The Hunger Games" movie has not been mentioned (since we haven't been terribly active here, have we?). Did you see the movie? Did you read the books first? What did you think of the movie?

Edited: May 18, 2012, 2:00pm

If you go to the International Movie Date Base (IMDB) Web Site www.imdb.com they have a list of the Top 500 Dystopian Movies
of the Sci-Fi World. Of course they have movies there that you'd expect to be listed like the original 5 Planet of the Apes Movies, the 2001 version of The Planet of the Apes,The Matrix movies, all of the Mad Max movies, V for Vendetta, Gattaca, Babylon A.D., Total Recall, Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, Fahrenheit 451 and all four of the Sigourney Weaver Alien movies and even some movies you might never have heard of before. I know there are movies on this list that I had never heard of before or even seen for that matter. I plan on checking to see how many Dystopian movies I own are on this list. This list is great for anyone who is really into collecting and watching Dystopian movies or if someone is just starting to collect Dystopian movies this list is perfect because it will give you names of movies you might never have thought of before. I don't expect to find that I'll actually own a lot
of Dystopian movies from this list. Off hand I do know that I own:

1. Alien
2. Aliens
3. Twelve Monkeys
4. Mad Max
5. Mad Max: Road Warrior
6. Planet of the Apes (1968)
7. Total Recall
8. Logan's Run
9. Equilibrium
10. The Running Man
11. 28 Days Later
12. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
13. The Island
14. Doomsday
15. Planet of the Apes (2001)
16. Metropolis
17. Beneath the Planet of the Apes
18. Escape from the Planet of the Apes
19. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
20. Battle for the Planet of the Apes
21. Highlander II: The Quickening
22. Max Headroom
23. The Last Man on Earth
24. Night of the Comet
25. The Day After Tomorrow
26. The Parallax View
27.2001: A Space Odyssey
28. 2010: The Year We Make Contact
29. Slip Stream
30. Deep Impact
31. Time Bandits
32. Red Dawn
33. The Stepford Wives (2004)
34. Stephen King's The Stand

You'll be able to find the movies that are listed above in the previous postings listed in IMDBs Top 500 Dystoian Movies of the Sci-Fi World. Though for some reason their Top 500 Dystopian Movies is 512, well actually 511 because they have a Duplicate Ranking of the same movie, Animal Farm (1954). They have it Ranked as #s 352 & 354. They should correct that error and place another movie in the other slot.


Jun 16, 2012, 6:07pm

Thanks Beatles1964 - I will check out IMDB for the complete list. I haven't heard of some of the movies you mention above and I'm sure the full list of 511/512 will have many more that are new to me.

Jun 28, 2016, 8:09am

HBO is working on Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake trilogy as a mini-series. This news first came out in 2014, so I'm hoping more will be revealed soon. Atwood's trilogy, for those not familiar, is a dystopian satire.

Hulu is making Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale into a series starring Elizabeth Moss (best known for being Peggy on "MadMen" and the star detective in mini-series "Top of the Lake") as Offred. http://www.theverge.com/2016/4/29/11540674/hulu-the-handmaids-tale-margaret-atwo...

Apr 29, 2017, 6:01am

Watched the first three episodes of "Handmaid's Tale" on Hulu recently. Anyone else watching it? I thought it thus far very good, visually stunning in some spots, and they've updated it well.