The fact that dystopian films are now recognised as a distinct subgenre reflects our collective anxiety about the future. Everywhere you look, oppressive regimes are using some form of technology to keep their people under control. Unlike post-apocalyptic films, dystopian films focus on a definite human danger from those in power. It’s not always necessary to turn to fiction to find instances of cultures characterised by widespread misery and gross inequality.
Dystopian movies are a staple of the genre, and they often explore societies that have gone down the wrong path. Many of them also feature themes that are often very thought-provoking.
Typically, dystopian films involve a totalitarian government, ruthless megacorporations, or environmental disasters that have affected the world. However, these aren’t the only things that can qualify a film as dystopian. If you’re looking for a good dystopian movie, you should definitely consider 1984, which is one of the most acclaimed and well-known primewire movies in the genre. It’s the story of a British civil servant who is forced to rewrite history in order to allow the totalitarian regime to control his life.
The movie follows Winston Smith (John Hurt), a government employee who is tasked with rewriting history to fit the narrative dictated by Big Brother. After meeting Julia, another dissenter, he decides to rebel against the oppressive regime. While it may seem like an extreme premise for a movie, this is actually very relevant to our world today. Global political instability is a problem that’s becoming more prevalent. Refugee crises are popping up everywhere and world leaders are resorting to anti-immigrant rhetoric.
The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)
Featuring themes of bodily autonomy and oppression, The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the most powerful dystopian novels to ever hit the shelves. Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood, the book tells the story of Offred, a woman who lives in a society where women are no longer allowed to read, and their only purpose is to become breeding machines for men called “commanders.”
A chilling look at the horrors of doctrinaire feminism, The Handmaid’s Tale is a must-read for every feminist. It also explores the consequences of totalitarianism, with a focus on female reproductive rights and the way it negatively impacts the broader society. The first book in a trilogy that would eventually be turned into a popular blockbuster franchise, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series is one of the most influential YA dystopian works of all time. Its complex characters, fast-paced plot, and profound social commentary are sure to inspire readers of all ages.
In the future, the Republic of Gilead (formerly the United States) is ravaged by pollution, leaving 99% of the population sterile and only fertile women capable of giving birth. Kate, her husband Luke, and their daughter Jill attempt to emigrate to Canada, but the Gilead Border Guard forces them back, shooting Luke while capturing Kate. She eventually becomes a Handmaid to Commander Serena Joy, whose wife is also a Handmaid. She longs to be pregnant and agrees to become impregnated by Nick, a man from a resistance movement.
Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood, Offred tells the story of a woman in a dystopian future where women are no longer allowed to have children. The film features Natasha Richardson as Offred, who is forced to become a Handmaid for the cold Serena Joy (Faye Dunaway) and her cruel husband, the Commander (Robert Duvall).
Offred begins the film in the Red Center, a gymnasium for women where she and her friends were confined and kept away from outsiders. She remembers that Aunts used cattle prods to keep the women quiet at night and military guards patrolled outside. The women were forbidden from sex and could not read or write. They had tokens that they used to purchase food and clothing. The tokens are engraved with pictures instead of words.
Later, Offred and Ofglen go shopping with their tokens. They are able to find a store that has a sign with pictures instead of words. When they are done, they walk by the Wall. Offred notices the two men hanging from the Wall, but they are not her husband. She also sees a man being beaten to death. Offred is afraid to go after him, but Ofglen explains that she should.