Top Ten – Dystopias

What if the movies were right about where our society is headed? Dermot O’Rourke looks at the best the alternative futures have to offer

10. Children of Men (2006)
A chaotic Orwellian society in which the oppressive British government of 2027 has imposed very harsh immigration laws and everyone is generally a bit upset because they are all infertile and obviously no one is getting any because of it.

9. Wall-E (2008)
While humans have become morbidly obese homogenous blobs confined to floaty chairs all on a larger floaty shopping centre, Earth has descended into a literal landfill and Waste Allocation Load Lifter – Earth Class and his best friend cockroach has been left to clean up.

8. The Terminator (1984)
It’s 2029, and it is the human race versus seemingly indestructible Arnold Schwarzenegger cyborg clones. That stint as Governor of California obviously didn’t do much for his sense of diplomacy.

7. The Matrix (1999)
It’s 2199 and humans are being used as a source of renewable energy for sentient machines dominating a very stormy Earth. However, if Keanu Reeves is the saviour of mankind, then it might be preferable to stay plugged into the Matrix and support the machines’ effort.

6. Brazil (1985)
Set ‘somewhere in the twentieth century’ Brazil presents a completely crackers bureaucratic dystopia that could have only streamed from the mind of ex-Python Terry Gilliam.

5. Idiocracy (2006)
Idiocracy satirically presents a decaying consumerist society controlled, in effect, by an energy drinks company, in which the clothes are disposable, Terry Crews is the US President, and Luke Wilson is the smartest man on the planet. Needless to say it’s not an advanced society.

4. V for Vendetta (2005)
Another George “I bloody told you it would be like this” Orwell civilisation of the near future, but what is specifically harrowing about this dystopia is that it is ruled by John Hurt and they throw people like Stephen Fry in jail.

3. Planet of the Apes (1968)
Set on a very sandy planet that most definitely isn’t Earth (it is), evolution has taken a serious left turn, and now chimpanzees are scientists but humans have been demoted to vermin, and now have no linguistic skills at all, apparently.

2. Blade Runner (1982)
A film with so many versions that it seems everybody involved in the production and their cat had a go editing it. What does remain constant in Blade Runner’s dank LA is that there are no real animals, it is perpetually night time, and there are genetically engineered killing machines running about.

1. Metropolis (1927)
There is no joke to see here, Fritz Lang’s film is a masterpiece and his German expressionist urban landscape is the aesthetic from which most (if not all) subsequent dystopian films have drawn. Go watch it.