It seems that every decade brings us a new slew of science fiction dystopian films. This is because it is such a popular genre. True fans of the style will generally have seen most of the well known films (1984, Clockwork Orange), so I thought that we could look at some lesser known ones rather than simply rehash the ones you already know about. Admittedly people will probably know at least one or two from this list, but if everyone learns about at least one new film, we will have done our job! So, here is a list of the top 10 lesser known dystopian films.
A post-apocalyptic tale based on a novella by Harlan Ellison. A boy communicates telepathically with his dog as they scavenge for food and sex, and they stumble into an underground society where the old society is preserved. The daughter of one of the leaders of the community seduces and lures him below, where the citizens have become unable to reproduce because of being underground so long. They use him for impregnation purposes, and then plan to be rid of him.
Sleazy lowlife cable TV operator Max Renn discovers a snuff broadcast called “Videodrome.” But it is more than a TV show–it’s an experiment that uses regular TV transmissions to permanently alter the viewer’s perceptions by giving them brain damage. Max is caught in the middle of the forces that created “Videodrome” and the forces that want to control it, his body itself turning into the ultimate weapon to fight this global conspiracy.
Things to come was written by H. G. Wells. A global war begins in 1940. This war drags out over many decades until most of the people still alive (mostly those born after the war started) do not even know who started it or why. Nothing is being manufactured at all any more and society has broken down into primative localized communities. In 1966 a great plague wipes out most of what people are left but small numbers still survive. One day a strange aircraft lands at one of these communities and its pilot tells of an organisation which is rebuilding civilization and slowly moving across the world re-civilizing these groups of survivors. Great reconstruction takes place over the next few decades and society is once again great and strong. The world’s population is now living in underground cities. In the year 2035, on the eve of man’s first flight to the moon, a popular uprising against progress (which some people claim has caused the wars of the past) gains support and becomes violent.
The story takes place in a future where the world is covered by a new ice age. The seal hunter Essex (played by Paul Newman) and his wife arrive at a city where some survivors of the disaster live among technological artifacts in a primitive way. All people in the city have lost hope of surviving and the ice continuously threatens to destroy the city. When visiting a relative, Essex’s wife is killed by a bomb. When he tries to uncover the reason why the entire family was killed, he learns that in their despair the survivors are playing a game of life and death called Quintet. Being alive is the only reward in this game, and none of the people involved can quite explain why they keep playing it.
In an imaginary dictature of a futuristic world, rebellion has broken out. The men in power scramble to the Bunker Palace Hotel, a bunker built long ago for just this kind of contingency. But a rebel spy sneaks in, and although her nature is very quickly suspected, she is left to observe the raving of the decadent power class, who keeps wondering what happened to their leader, who has failed to show up.
Set in a Fascistic future America, The Handmaid’s Tale tells the story of Kate, a handmaid. In this America, the religious right has taken over and gone hog-wild. Kate is a criminal, guilty of the crime of trying to escape from the US, and is sentenced to become a Handmaid. The job of a Handmaid is to bear the children of the man to whom she is assigned. After ruthless group training by Serena Joy in the proper way to behave, Kate is assigned as Handmaid to the Commander. Kate is attracted to Nick, the Commander’s chauffeur. At the same time, a resistance movement begins to challenge the regime.
In the near future, big wars are avoided by giving individuals with violent tendencies a chance to kill in the Big Hunt. The Hunt is the most popular form of entertainment in the world and also attracts participants who are looking for fame and fortune. It includes ten rounds for each competitor, five as the hunter and five as the victim. The survivor of the ten rounds will become the ultimate champion. Caroline Meredith (Ursula Andress) is the huntress armed with a bullet shooting bra looking for her tenth victim. Marcello Polletti (Marcello Mastroianni) is the victim, but is reluctant to kill Meredith as he is not sure whether she really is his hunter. Killing the wrong person would get him locked up in prison for 30 years. To maximize her financial gain, Meredith wants to get a perfect kill in front of the cameras.
Alphaville combines the genres of dystopian science fiction and film noir. Although set far in the future on another planet, there are no special effects or elaborate sets; instead, the film was shot in real locations in Paris, the night-time streets of the capital becoming the streets of Alphaville, while modernist glass and concrete buildings represent the city’s interiors. In addition, the characters refer to twentieth century events; for example, the hero describes himself as a Guadalcanal veteran. Lemmy Caution is an agent from “Outland”. He poses as a journalist named Ivan Johnson, and claims to work for the Figaro-Pravda. He wears a tan overcoat that stores various items. He carries a camera with him and photographs everything he sees, particularly the things that would ordinarily be unimportant to a journalist.
“All men are not created equal. It is the purpose of the Government to make them so.” This is the premise of the Showtime film adaption of Kurt Vonnegut’s futuristic short story Harrison Bergeron. The film centers around a young man (Harrison) who is smarter than his peers, and is not affected by the usual “Handicapping” which is used to train all Americans so everyone is of equal intelligence.
In the distant future Earth is divided into two camps, the barely civilized group and the overly civilized one with mental powers. A plague is attacking the second group after which it’s members cease to have any interest in life and become nearly catatonic. When Sean Connery one of the barbarians, crosses over, the tenuous balance in their world is threatened.
Some synopses courtesy of IMDB