The Future Is Here: Dystopian Movies Fit for a Dystopian World

by | Mar 26, 2022 | Headline News | 23 comments

This article was originally published by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead at The Rutherford Institute.

“The Internet is watching us now. If they want to. They can see what sites you visit. In the future, television will be watching us, and customizing itself to what it knows about us. The thrilling thing is, that will make us feel we’re part of the medium. The scary thing is, we’ll lose our right to privacy. An ad will appear in the air around us, talking directly to us.”—Director Steven Spielberg, Minority Report

We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by such science fiction writers as George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood, and Philip K. Dick.

Much like Orwell’s Big Brother in 1984, the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move.

Much like Huxley’s A Brave New World, we are churning out a society of watchers who “have their liberties taken away from them, but … rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing.”

Much like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the populace is now taught to “know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away.”

And in keeping with Philip K. Dick’s darkly prophetic vision of a dystopian police state—which became the basis for Steven Spielberg’s futuristic thriller Minority Report which was released 20 years ago—we are now trapped into a world in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful, and if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams and pre-crime units will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control.

Minority Report is set in the year 2054, but it could just as well have taken place in 2022.

Seemingly taking its cue from science fiction, technology has moved so fast in the short time since Minority Report premiered in 2002 that what once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction.

Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike—facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on—are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, Spielberg’s unnerving vision of the future is fast becoming our reality.

Both worlds—our present-day reality and Spielberg’s celluloid vision of the future—are characterized by widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, fusion centers, driverless cars, voice-controlled homes, facial recognition systems, cybugs and drones, and predictive policing (pre-crime) aimed at capturing would-be criminals before they can do any damage.

Surveillance cameras are everywhere. Government agents listen in on our telephone calls and read our emails. Political correctness—a philosophy that discourages diversity—has become a guiding principle of modern society.

The courts have shredded the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. In fact, SWAT teams battering down doors without search warrants and FBI agents acting as a secret police that investigate dissenting citizens are common occurrences in contemporary America.

We are increasingly ruled by multi-corporations wedded to the police state. Much of the population is either hooked on illegal drugs or ones prescribed by doctors. And bodily privacy and integrity has been utterly eviscerated by a prevailing view that Americans have no rights over what happens to their bodies during an encounter with government officials, who are allowed to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

All of this has come about with little more than a whimper from an oblivious American populace largely comprised of nonreaders and television and internet zombies, but we have been warned about such an ominous future in novels and movies for years.

The following 15 films may be the best representation of what we now face as a society.

Fahrenheit 451 (1966). Adapted from Ray Bradbury’s novel and directed by Francois Truffaut, this film depicts a futuristic society in which books are banned, and firemen ironically are called on to burn contraband books—451 Fahrenheit being the temperature at which books burn. Montag is a fireman who develops a conscience and begins to question his book burning. This film is an adept metaphor for our obsessively politically correct society where virtually everyone now pre-censors speech. Here, a brainwashed people addicted to television and drugs do little to resist governmental oppressors.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The plot of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, as based on an Arthur C. Clarke short story, revolves around a space voyage to Jupiter. The astronauts soon learn, however, that the fully automated ship is orchestrated by a computer system—known as HAL 9000—which has become an autonomous thinking being that will even murder to retain control. The idea is that at some point in human evolution, technology in the form of artificial intelligence will become autonomous and human beings will become mere appendages of technology. In fact, at present, we are seeing this development with massive databases generated and controlled by the government that are administered by such secretive agencies as the National Security Agency and sweep all websites and other information devices collecting information on average citizens. We are being watched from cradle to grave.

Planet of the Apes (1968). Based on Pierre Boulle’s novel, astronauts crash on a planet where apes are the masters and humans are treated as brutes and slaves. While fleeing from gorillas on horseback, astronaut Taylor is shot in the throat, captured, and housed in a cage. From there, Taylor begins a journey wherein the truth revealed is that the planet was once controlled by technologically advanced humans who destroyed civilization. Taylor’s trek to the ominous Forbidden Zone reveals the startling fact that he was on planet earth all along. Descending into a fit of rage at what he sees in the final scene, Taylor screams: “We finally really did it. You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you.” The lesson is obvious, but will we listen? The script, although rewritten, was initially drafted by Rod Serling and retains Serling’s Twilight Zone-ish ending.

THX 1138 (1970). George Lucas’ directorial debut, this is a somber view of a dehumanized society totally controlled by a police state. The people are force-fed drugs to keep them passive, and they no longer have names but only letter/number combinations such as THX 1138. Any citizen who steps out of line is quickly brought into compliance by robotic police equipped with “pain prods”—electro-shock batons. Sound like tasers?

A Clockwork Orange (1971). Director Stanley Kubrick presents a future ruled by sadistic punk gangs and a chaotic government that cracks down on its citizens sporadically. Alex is a violent punk who finds himself in the grinding, crushing wheels of injustice. This film may accurately portray the future of western society that grinds to a halt as oil supplies diminish, environmental crises increase, chaos rules, and the only thing left is brute force.

Soylent Green (1973). Set in a futuristic overpopulated New York City, the people depend on synthetic foods manufactured by the Soylent Corporation. A policeman investigating a murder discovers the grisly truth about what soylent green is really made of. The theme is chaos where the world is ruled by ruthless corporations whose only goal is greed and profit. Sound familiar?

Blade Runner (1982). In a 21st century Los Angeles, a world-weary cop tracks down a handful of renegade “replicants” (synthetically produced human slaves). Life is now dominated by mega-corporations, and people sleepwalk along rain-drenched streets. This is a world where human life is cheap, and where anyone can be exterminated at will by the police (or blade runners). Based upon a Philip K. Dick novel, this exquisite Ridley Scott film questions what it means to be human in an inhuman world.

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984). The best adaptation of Orwell’s dark tale, this film visualizes the total loss of freedom in a world dominated by technology and its misuse, and the crushing inhumanity of an omniscient state. The government controls the masses by controlling their thoughts, altering history and changing the meaning of words. Winston Smith is a doubter who turns to self-expression through his diary and then begins questioning the ways and methods of Big Brother before being re-educated in a most brutal fashion.

Brazil (1985). Sharing a similar vision of the near future as 1984 and Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial, this is arguably director Terry Gilliam’s best work, one replete with a merging of the fantastic and stark reality. Here, a mother-dominated, hapless clerk takes refuge in flights of fantasy to escape the ordinary drabness of life. Caught within the chaotic tentacles of a police state, the longing for more innocent, free times lies behind the vicious surface of this film.

They Live (1988). John Carpenter’s bizarre sci-fi social satire action film assumes the future has already arrived. John Nada is a homeless person who stumbles across a resistance movement and finds a pair of sunglasses that enables him to see the real world around him. What he discovers is a world controlled by ominous beings who bombard the citizens with subliminal messages such as “obey” and “conform.” Carpenter manages to make an effective political point about the underclass—that is, everyone except those in power. The point: we, the prisoners of our devices, are too busy sucking up the entertainment trivia beamed into our brains and attacking each other up to start an effective resistance movement.

The Matrix (1999). The story centers on a computer programmer Thomas A. Anderson, secretly a hacker known by the alias “Neo,” who begins a relentless quest to learn the meaning of “The Matrix”—cryptic references that appear on his computer. Neo’s search leads him to Morpheus who reveals the truth that the present reality is not what it seems and that Anderson is actually living in the future—2199. Humanity is at war against technology which has taken the form of intelligent beings, and Neo is actually living in The Matrix, an illusionary world that appears to be set in the present in order to keep the humans docile and under control. Neo soon joins Morpheus and his cohorts in a rebellion against the machines that use SWAT team tactics to keep things under control.

Minority Report (2002). Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick and directed by Steven Spielberg, the film offers a special effect-laden, techno-vision of a futuristic world in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful. And if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams will bring you under control. The setting is 2054 where PreCrime, a specialized police unit, apprehends criminals before they can commit the crime. Captain Anderton is the chief of the Washington, DC, PreCrime force which uses future visions generated by “pre-cogs” (mutated humans with precognitive abilities) to stop murders. Soon Anderton becomes the focus of an investigation when the precogs predict he will commit a murder. But the system can be manipulated. This film raises the issue of the danger of technology operating autonomously—which will happen eventually if it has not already occurred. To a hammer, all the world looks like a nail. In the same way, to a police state computer, we all look like suspects. In fact, before long, we all may be mere extensions or appendages of the police state—all suspects in a world commandeered by machines.

V for Vendetta (2006). This film depicts a society ruled by a corrupt and totalitarian government where everything is run by an abusive secret police. A vigilante named V dons a mask and leads a rebellion against the state. The subtext here is that authoritarian regimes through repression create their own enemies—that is, terrorists—forcing government agents and terrorists into a recurring cycle of violence. And who is caught in the middle? The citizens, of course. This film has a cult following among various underground political groups such as Anonymous, whose members wear the same Guy Fawkes mask as that worn by V.

Children of Men (2006). This film portrays a futuristic world without hope since humankind has lost its ability to procreate. Civilization has descended into chaos and is held together by a military state and a government that attempts to keep its totalitarian stronghold on the population. Most governments have collapsed, leaving Great Britain as one of the few remaining intact societies. As a result, millions of refugees seek asylum only to be rounded up and detained by the police. Suicide is a viable option as a suicide kit called Quietus is promoted on billboards and on television and in newspapers. But hope for a new day comes when a woman becomes inexplicably pregnant.

Land of the Blind (2006). In this dark political satire, tyrannical rulers are overthrown by new leaders who prove to be just as evil as their predecessors. Maximilian II is a demented fascist ruler of a troubled land named Every country who has two main interests: tormenting his underlings and running his country’s movie industry. Citizens who are perceived as questioning the state are sent to “re-education camps” where the state’s concept of reality is drummed into their heads. Joe, a prison guard, is emotionally moved by the prisoner and renowned author Thorne and eventually joins a coup to remove the sadistic Maximilian, replacing him with Thorne. But soon Joe finds himself the target of the new government.

All of these films—and the writers who inspired them—understood what many Americans, caught up in their partisan, flag-waving, zombified states, are still struggling to come to terms with: that there is no such thing as a government organized for the good of the people. Even the best intentions among those in government inevitably give way to the desire to maintain power and control at all costs.

Eventually, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, even the sleepwalking masses (who remain convinced that all of the bad things happening in the police state—the police shootings, the police beatings, the raids, the roadside strip searches—are happening to other people) will have to wake up.

Sooner or later, the things happening to other people will start happening to us.

When that painful reality sinks in, it will hit with the force of a SWAT team crashing through your door, a taser being aimed at your stomach, and a gun pointed at your head. And there will be no channel to change, no reality to alter, and no manufactured farce to hide behind.

As George Orwell warned, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.”

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    23 Comments

    1. Citizen Joe

      My reality is stronger than your reality. Or maybe not. We all live in our own reality. And sometimes our realities crash into each other. The person with the weakest reality loses. May the Force be with you.

    2. JRS

      Those are good movies, but they don’t go far enough. In the dystopian world just over the horizon, there will be no fuel for the masses. The remaining fuel will be controlled by warlords and their minions. Billions will be liquidated by starvation, disease and murder. It will be root hawg or die. There will be no organized bureaucracy to run things.

      Mad Max: The Road Warrior would be that movie.

      • Kelly

        The Road. May be more prophetic..

      • Genius

        Yup. And if they break in here the first thing they will see is the business end of a 12 guage with 3 inch #4 buckshot semi auto. The only way they will be leaving is in a mop bucket!

    3. michael

      The Road is a pretty good movie for a teotwaki scenario.
      Mad Max like JRS says above, is probably the most accurate.
      Hunger Games is must own as well.

    4. Darth Skippy

      Chitty Chitty Bang Bang —
      Children, themselves, are made illegal, and the intelligentsia are conscripted to make toys for the elite of Vulgaria.

      ¯\_ (ツ)_/¯ Afaic, that was a social statement.

    5. CAMARO

      2022
      Now you forgot one no two RED DAWN
      RED DAWN 2

      Staring THE RUSSIANS, and THE CHINESE

      PLUS !!! Food shortages, Global Warming Floods,
      Chaos, Riots, Purges, Night of the Living Dead, No need for Cable T.V. or Computers just step out side and its Entertainment Tonight with all your Favorite Stars like TERMINATOR, Jeffery Dommer, J.W. Gayse , Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam Insane and more……..

      Beam me up Mr. Scott.!!!!

    6. marty

      Dystopian movies are just light-hearted views of the real future we are going to find ourselves in. When everyone realizes that they didn’t do enough OR didn’t do a thing to stop their misery, after feeling the piss and feces running down their legs many will immediately take steps to kill themselves!!

    7. AP

      Although not futuristic, “Dr. Strangelove” was another classic of dystopia.

    8. Anonymous

      Genius: Big talk, but it won’t happen that way. When the time comes that “they” break your door in, it will already be too late. You would have been disarmed long ago. Not that your gun will be taken, but you won’t be able to use it. You see, some thug WILL break into your home in the near future. And you WILL take him out, as you describe. But the govt & the courts will nail you to a cross. You will be convicted of a hate crime, civil rights violations, and wrongful death by the piece of filth gang members family. If your lucky to escape prison (doubtful), you’ll still be stripped of your assets, and left homeless. That is the future at hand.!!!!!

      • Mr. Darwin

        Yeah, I’m sure “Genius” lives in an urban area just teeming with Bloods, and Crips, and MS 13, and BLM, and…whatever ?

        A more likely scenario is that he will pop the balloon of some tweaker looking for a fix.

        Why does everyone automatically assume it will be gang members (or black people) causing all the problems? Oh yeah, that’s right…racism.

        • Anonymous

          No, it isn’t racism it’s realism.

          It gets assumed because they’re the ones causing the trouble now and are naturally expected to continue to be in the future as any sort of controls on them collapse.

          Something you should know if you read any of the big city newspapers, California, Washington, New York, etc., it the same everywhere.

          Be realistic about the world and you will stand a better chance of surviving in it.

        • cranerigger

          Object news reports & legitimate statistical analysis points to certain groups generally being more inclined to crime. Rational thinkers observe this data and realize the truth. Does that make all of us that have those genetic traits criminals? No. But crying RACISM to change the discussion is just another form of lying.

          You know there are scofflaws. Open your eyes & see reality.

          • cranerigger

            Thank you “spellcheck” for changing OBJECTIVE to OBJECT.

          • BROOKLYNSEZ

            Heres a Fun Fact most crimes are committed not by minorities but by Euro Americans, they are also more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs per capita, the majority of Heroin and Meth users are you ready…..? Caucasian. Yes CAUCASIAN…. Yes the inner cities absolutely have a crime problem but so does suburban America and it aint the colored folks doing the burglaries breaking an entering and vehicle break ins etc. And if the world goes to shit ina handbasket? Everybody gonna take a bite out of a shit sandwich, yes I know you and your kin are gonna hunker down and wait for the colored folks who are goona come and loot and your going to……bang bang, well here is the Reality of it your Caucasian neighbors and their friends or the good ole boys just down the road are going to plot scheme and plan to take your shit! their gonna A. Shoot you B. Shoot your family probably defile your women and Steal all your preps then they will go somewhere else…….but hey as long as it aint the blacks doing it its all good. BTW as we speak…..news out of Ukraine is beginning to trickle out, White Women yes Ukrainian women are white are being Systematically Raped by Russian Troops re: white guys…and killed and robbed…..yea but their cool cause their Putins boys….yea Ok…

    9. Darth Skippy

      Sci-fi is a logical-extremist parody of the present day. By the time it gets released, the plots, roles, and fashion crimes are already antiquated and cliche. Especially the actors.

      You or your grandparents should have fixed this, yesterday.

    10. Roy Sandoval

      I can say for sure the movie called the ROAD…

    11. Anonymous

      A shame they never made a movie out of Dhalgren.

      A book that, at least socially, may turn out to be prophetic.

    12. CAMARO

      Along with THE ROAD
      You need to watch THE LAST OF US.

    13. Bill

      There could be periods of social breakdown, and in large areas, but not for long. The prospect of a global “mad max”, or “the road” scenarios is extremely unlikely. Humans generally crave a society and a social order, even if it happens to be cruel and dictatorial, history proves that again and again.
      Furthermore, there won’t be a reduction of world population to 500 million (unless the earth was hit by a real global pandemic, or a comet). The only countries that are willing to proceed with the destruction of their own populations are Europe and the English speaking countries around the world. The rest of the world such as Asia, sub-continent Asia, Africans, Muslims, etc. are not going to go along with allowing mass decimation of their populations. Except for about 20 countries the global average birth rate has dropped dramatically, many even below replacement, notably in the developed world, but also in many other countries. Later in this century the global population will start dropping significantly anyway. Based on current demographic trends and studies, in about 100 years the world population will be about 4 billion people.
      There may be a NWO based in the future with global autocracy but it would function very poorly. Force, deprivation and propaganda would be the main tools of a NWO/global gov’t. With few tiny exceptions, all national gov’ts of the world are notoriously inefficient. Most cannot manage their own affairs well, how are they going to manage the world. Be assured they will try, if they have to make all life a living hell.

      • BROOKLYNSEZ

        You know Bill that is probably the most sensible real scenario thay I have ever read here I’m in agreement the only people in this world who have caused mass murder on a prolific scale are Europeans and Americans. I wont be alive in 100 years but I think your theory might start to become true at least the beginnings of it in about 10 years. After that i think a rapid acceleration of decline will happen. But it certainly will not be “Mad Max or The Road” type scenario it will be more like fifedoms, areas of polarized people distrustful of their neighbors but forced to trade and mutually help each other.

    14. Jetcaptain

      The Turner Diaries should be on the reading list. There will never be a movie made from this book; but it’s a fair prediction of what could happen in this country.

      • BROOKLYNSEZ

        Ummmm……….yea……..No Not gonna happen…..and the turd der diaries none of that book is going to come true only in the minds of people who do not have a basic grasp of reality…..yea not gonna happen

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