President Donald Trump. Yes, it’s as nightmare-inducing now as it was when it was just an idea, and before that a joke. One word is most apt to describe our views of this historical moment: dystopian. With his hateful rhetoric, ‘alternative facts’ philosophy and pathological lies to ensure an authoritarian state in the U.S., many are fearing for the world they see unfolding around them. By no means are dystopian reflections of society anything new, and this article will be examining takes on dystopia, which disturbingly reflect the current reality of the Trump administration.
If there was ever a year that chilled the blood (before 2016) it was 1984, the defining dystopia by George Orwell brilliantly adapted to film. 1984 may not entirely reflect the world we are living in, Orwell couldn’t have foreseen the Internet for example. But it got a lot of other things disturbingly right, mass surveillance, the breaking down of language and an authoritarian state which rewrites facts to suit its political agenda. Like the book, the film is as relevant now as ever, as rising sales in the past months indicate.
Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
The fact the Republicans are planning to scrap the Department of Education is terrifying and reveals a clear agenda: keep the voting populace illiterate so Trump’s alternative facts agenda works. Fahrenheit 451 feels more realistic than ever based on this, depicting a world where books are burned, knowledge is reviled and consumerism reigns supreme. Based on the Ray Bradbury book, the film is effective at showing a terrifying future, how we as people we can become trapped in it, but also how we may have a chance of escaping it and making it better.
Matter of Fact (2016)
Matter of Fact is a five-minute short film that was made in the London 48 film challenge and is now available to watch on Youtube. It takes place in a white supremacist future where White is Right – Matter of Fact and follows one black man’s struggle. He is seemingly being aided by a group of white people, however there is a twist, and the film becomes truly effective in how it examines the complexity of approaches to race and white supremacy, as well as how horrifying we can become. If short for time but need a dose of genuine fear, this will do the trick.
I admit, this is cheating. Arrival is not a dystopian film. It is an aliens- arrive-on-Earth film in the same vein as Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But even though it does not portray a dystopia, that doesn’t mean that it is not one of the most important science fiction films in recent memory. A film focussing on communication and the importance of language, stands out, in stark contrast to the pro-military Independence Day 2 released the same year. In a world where America is vowing to be tougher and ignoring its long history of war crimes, Arrival is a film that can offer a way forward and is just as needed as any dystopian reflection.