The Age of Dystopia


Few genres have the storytelling potential of science fiction. By virtue of its preoccupation with what could be, its tendency to search for human truths, social experience, science fiction offers an artist the opportunity to really address some profound dynamics (and to make cars fly in the process).

Of all the many offshoots of this genre, few have been as successful as the more dystopian/apocalyptic visions of the future. Japanese cinema has been concerned with world-ending themes ever since the end of WW2 (for obvious and terryfying reasons), while the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s saw a smattering of these types of films emerge from the traumas of the Cold War.

Today science fiction is virtually dominating big box office and even more obscure cerebral independent films now regularly play with dark sci fi conventions.

Clearly there is something very attractive about contemplating death or survival scenarios from a storytelling perspective, but one has to wonder if the recent abundance of this type of fiction is also an expression of a greater social malaise; it seems at times that we have come to an impasse when it comes to human thought and emotional wellbeing, thus giving rise to a kind of cinema of pessimism.

It would be interesting to see the rise of a fresh perspective in cinema, but also in science fiction. To move away from dark end-of-everything dramas for just a little while and ponder a future where maybe we managed to avoid blowing ourseleves up just long enough to make something beautiful.

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