Summer isn't far away, and the season's two dystopian films are reboots from '80s "classics" - "Mad Max: Fury Road" (May 15) and "Terminator Genisys" (July 1).
As a child of the ’80s, I’m looking forward to seeing both films. Emilia Clark as Sarah Conner (she sounds and even looks like Linda Hamilton in the trailer) and Tom Hardy as Mad Max were inspired casting choices. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be back as well.
Fun summer from the looks of it, and it has me thinking about why we love dystopian films as much as we do …
- Collective Narcissism — Ever since Burgess Meredith lost his glasses in an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” and probably before, we’ve had the fantasy that we’re “special” enough to be the last, or one of the last, humans on earth. Be it “Mad Max,” “2012,” “Children of Men” or “The Matrix” there’s something tantalizing about the thought of being so unique that you’re literally the last man standing. Of course the world ends during your lifetime, why wouldn’t it? The reality is life goes on without you. Shortly after I graduated from college the biology department got a brand new building, full of new equipment, and I remember thinking, “Well that sucks!” Such is life.
- Relieves Us of Responsibility — You don’t have to be a rabid environmentalist or even touch on the topic of Climate Change to know there are some serious environmental issues out there: loss of top soil and desertification, pollution of all kinds, invasive species, water shortages, deforestation, and endangered wildlife to name the biggies. It’s going to take a ton of hard work, smart political decisions, new technology and personal sacrifice to repair the damage done. Hard work is certainly not sexy when compared to a super volcano or giant asteroid slamming into the earth. I think that’s part of the fantasy, if the earth were destroyed we wouldn’t have to take responsibility for the mess we made. It’s like a kid wishing his house would burn down so he didn’t have to clean his room.
- We Want to Escape Urbanization —Today, 54 percent of the earth’s population lives in urban centers. That’s expected to swell to 66 percent by 2050. As we experience increased population density, get jammed into cities like sardines in a can, it makes total sense that we have visceral fantasies of cities being destroyed. Be it Godzilla, zombies, or aliens from outer space, we love to see cities reduced to rubble. “Blade Runner,” “The Road,” “The Stand,” “Escape from New York,” “The Road Warrior” – the goal is the same: get out of the city.
- The Cycle of Creation and Destruction — Doesn’t matter if it’s a heavy political statement like “V for Vendetta,” “1984,” “A Clockwork Orange” and “The Hunger Games” or if it’s about nature striking back like “Children of Men,” “Interstellar” and “2012,” there is always a rebirth. Be it “Noah” or “Shaun of the Dead,” the end marks a new beginning… which in “Shaun’s” case looks eerily similar to the beginning.
- We’re Wary of Technology — Since Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” we’ve been wary of our creations. Two movies this summer, “Chappie” and “Ex Machina” explore both robots and the singularity. And rightly so… it’s one thing to worry about how the telephone or jet engine will change humanity, it’s totally another to imagine the impact robots and artificial intelligence will have on our lives. Don’t believe me, just ask Elon Musk.
Whatever the reason we love dystopian movies, there’s certainly some interesting ones on tap for this summer.
DID YOU KNOW: The 1979 Australian classic “Mad Max” helped make Mel Gibson a star, but U.S. audiences who caught the film during its original run didn’t hear Gibson’s voice. Another actor dubbed his lines, but a subsequent home video release returned Gibson’s voice to the film.