As this site evolves, it will likely expand to include more dystopian fiction and music, but for now the focus is on film and televisual depictions of dystopic society. Articles discussing various dystopian themes will also be posted from time to time, oddly enough, on the Posts page! Here’s the most recent post:
I always enjoy it when a specific future date from a movie comes to pass in the real world. It’s fascinating to consider the predicted future against the reality of the modern time. Many films have projected themselves so far into the future, that such a comparison is not yet practicable. Other films project so near into the future that very little change is actually predicted. The most interesting films are the ones which predict technological advancement, or societal shift, rather than simply a singular, monumental event which either did or didn’t happen…usually didn’t.
Because this phenomenon is common to many futuristic science fiction films, it is also common to various dystopian films. The following is a list of 8 dates of futures past from dystopian films of particular interest.
- Nineteen Eighty-Four
This film doesn’t really belong on this list, but I’m leading off with it just to make that very point, because Nineteen Eighty-Fouris often seen as the typification of this very idea. It is, to a point, but only if we’re comparing the reality of the year 1984 with the original book published in 1948 by George Orwell. For our purposes here, there really isn’t a specific date to mention from the film, and the film itself was released in 1984, so it’s not really meant as a predictor of the times.
- The Terminator & Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Projected forward from 1984 and 1991 respectively, Judgment Day was supposed to occur on 29 August 1997. On that date, a unified artificial intelligence known as SkyNet was supposed to become self aware, triggering a series of events which would lead to full scale global nuclear war, the near instant death of 3 billion people and the onset of a war of survival between mankind and the machines. Instead, on that date, a small village in Algeria was the site of a brutal massacre, Michael Jackson celebrated his 40th birthday without incident, and Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems by the Notorious B.I.G. featuring Puff Daddy and Ma$e was the #1 Billboard single.
- Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Due to the successful conclusion of Terminator 2, the original Judgment Day was in fact avoided, but whereas Terminator 2 ended on the upbeat note that the future is not yet written, Terminator 3 brings back Judgment Day, this time on 24 July 2004, with the notion that fate might be delayed, but ultimately is unavoidable. This time there’s no getting away from Judgment Day, as it truly is a foregone conclusion. Luckily, on that date 3 billion people didn’t perish in a blinding flash of light. Instead, the Red Sox beat the Yankees in a come from behind victory after scoring 3 in the bottom of the 9th, episode 39 of season 17 of America’s Most Wanted aired, and Confessions II by Usher was #1 on the Billboard charts.
- Demolition Man
There is no specific date for when John Spartan faces off with Simon Phoenix in 1996, though apparently in the far distant future of 1996 (being three full years out from the film’s 1993 release), cryogenic technology had advanced to the point of crygenic prisons. One specific date that did stick out was September 25, 2010, the date of the last murder in Los Angeles (at least until the aforementioned Simon Phoenix was let loose). What was September 25, 2010 actually like? Katy Perry’s Teenage Dreams was #1 on the Billboard charts, Muse played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Angels lost 6-2 to the White Sox, and a quick look at the LA Times website reveals that this could have been any of Michael Johnson, 28, Omar Brown, 19, Steve Lopez, 22, Jose Martinez, 24, or Samuel Martinez, 20. Sadly, the site also shows at least a dozen murders in the last 9 days alone (I had to go back to page 11 to find September 25). So far, the Big One has also not hit southern California (as it was said to in 2010), and unless I’m off the mark, I doubt that Los Angeles, Santa Monica and San Diego will merge into San Angeles at some point in 2011.
- A Boy and His Dog
Looking forward from the depth of the Cold War in 1975, a bleak future must well have seemed all to likely. Luckily, this classic with Don Johnson was off it’s mark. Although a specific day isn’t mentioned, March 1983 was supposed to see the Vatican Armistice end WWIII, while 2007 would see World War IV. Instead, March 1983 saw Michael Jackson hit #1 with Billie Jean, while Ronald Reagan warned against the Evil Empire and launched Star Wars. In 2007, Al Gore, Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize, fighting continued around the globe, and Kurt Vonnegut, Merv Griffin, Marcel Marceau, Robert Goulet, Norman Mailer, and Evel Kneivel all passed away, although Jerry Falwell died too, so…you know.
- Escape from LA
On 23 August 2000, Los Angeles was supposed to detach itself from the rest of California during the Big One, setting the scene for for the now-island of Los Angeles to be the nation’s largest quarantined penal colony. As far as I know, this didn’t happen. Instead, Gulf Air Flight 072 crashed into the Persian Gulf near Manama, Bahrain, killing 143, the answer to 17 Across in the New York Times crossword puzzle was ATOM, and Doesn’t Really Matter by Janet had hit #1. Unfortunately, Escape from New York didn’t have any specific date to look at, but we’ve already looked at 1997.
According to this film, by 23 November 2009, it would be possible to pull a person from the past into the present, and transfer the consciousness of an elderly individual into the body of a younger person, essentially pursuing immortality. Well, they came so close, but missed it by just a hair. Instead, the Maguindanao massacre occured in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, Mindanao, Philippines, the Saskatchewan Roughriders were officially congratulated in the Legislature of Saskatchewan for a 27-17 win over the Calgary Stampeders, clinching the CFL West Division title and a spot in the Grey Cup final, and Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys was sitting at #1.
- Death Race 2000
Again, this film is missing a specific date to reference, but according to the film, by the year 2000, there would be an officially sanctioned cross country race in which other drivers, and any pedestrians or other civilians that get in your way, are not only fair game, they’re targets. Not quite. In 2000, Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia won the Indy 500, Michael Schumacher won his third F1 title, and his first for Ferrari, and Dale Jarrett took the Daytona 500, which was coincidentally the last time Dale Earnhardt would finish that race, dying in the last lap of the same race in the following year.
Fair warning, the years 2019 and 2020 seem to come up frequently, so I would keep your eyes on those calendars.