Many films set in the future display a dark, polluted, overpopulated, social class ruled Earth, which doesn’t actually look very appealing. Below are just a few films set in the near and distant future, that portray a less than idyllic planet for the human race.
Blade Runner, set in the very near future of 2019, depicts a Los Angeles unlike what we know today. The effects of industrial pollution have led to both global warming and global dimming, and real animals are a rare sight, instead replaced by artificial clones. It is indeed a scary prospect to think that the world could develop into this dystopia in the next 3 years, but when released in 1982, industrialisation was still prominent, with less care for the ramifications of subsequent industrial pollution. Fortunately, in more recent years, action has begun to tackle the climate change, with government grants to support renewable energy, reduced costs of solar panels, the introduction of low emission zones, and changes in society's view on the topic global warming. In the next 3 years, it is unlikely that we will see Los Angeles transform into the dark, wet and overpopulated vision Ridley Scott envisaged, but without the continued support for cleaner energy, the future may still be bleak.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Following on from the Rise of the Planet of the Apes, this sequel takes place in 2026, and shows the world’s human population in turmoil after civil unrest, an economic collapse and most devastating, an outbreak of a human manufactured virus. The genetic engineering in this film results in primates with higher intelligence and cognitive abilities, and a human race almost completely destroyed. Although cures to certain diseases are vital, this films portrays a world where attempting to find a cure leads to a complete collapse of the human race. Set only 10 years into the future, and with scientific developments emerging everyday, it makes you wonder how far is too far, when it comes to genetic engineering. From cloning pets, to growing human ears on mice, it is important that there is clear distinction between what we actually need, and what could have negative side effects. Appropriate investigations and testing of new technologies has never been so important.
Set in the Mid-22nd Century, Avatar centres around the colonisation and mining of Pandora, a Moon orbiting a gas giant. Earth’s resources have run out, and it is now necessary to obtain energy sources from Pandora. The most striking element of this future Earth is that we are currently unaware of any other habitable planet (or moon), and the journey to such a place with current technologies would take far too long. Our non-renewable energy sources are depleting, and will eventually run out, so a different form of power will be required. Fortunately, there are several options currently available to us, yet these aren’t yet as cheap as conventional methods. A good comparison is electric vs petrol cars. Brand new, the price of a petrol car is minimal when compared to the far more expensive electric vehicle options.
Set in 2154, Elysium is based in a world split in two - the rich and the poor. It explores the ideas of immigration, overpopulation, exploitation and the social divide, with the richer population living on a luxurious space habitat, whilst the poorer classes live on a destroyed planet Earth. Although set quite some time into the future, it demonstrates the importance of equality between classes, as well as the right to basic health care services. Overpopulation is a massive issue in the film, with more people than the planet can sustain, resulting in increased industrialisation and pollution issues. Fortunately, technologies do exist in this future world to cope with increase in population, in the form of the space habitat, and we would hope that these would be expanded to accommodate the ever increasing population.
The Hunger Games
Set in 2280, the Hunger Games depicts a post-apocalyptic world, split into 12 districts that surround the Capitol. In this future world, each district has a role to perform, such as District 12’s coal mining and District 11’s agriculture. Each year, boys and girls aged 12-18 take part in the Hunger Games, which is a fight to the death with only one victor. The games started as punishment for past rebellions against the Capitol, and all 12 districts must provide two tributes. This post-nuclear war world has some barbaric practices, broadcasting adolescents battling to their deaths on television. This would certainly be a grim future, with a totalitarianism style leadership. This type of leadership removes privacy from citizens, and promotes civil unrest. Like in the movie, a revolt against such a state would be strongly endorsed by many, leading to the systems collapse.
If we start to act now, and don’t lose track of the importance of equality and the environment, hopefully the future won’t look so scary, but only time will tell!