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My Top 25 Dystopian Films

K. Driscoll
The list author says: "Dystopia is of course the opposite of utopia. A dystopian film reflects a society characterized by human anguish, oppression, and disorder. These films also should in some way resemble our own world. They often make insights as to how we currently live by showing us an environment we may be destined for. A place we would fear to live in.

One of my favorite sub-genres and with the recent release of Children of Men, I was compelled to recall some of my favorite dystopian movies."
A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange
"Anthony Burgess's story directed by a perfectionist.  The controversial film possesses a dark sense of humor within its dystopian nightmare setting.  But the character atrophy is the most fear provoking element of this story."
Blade Runner - The Director's Cut (Remastered Limited Edition)
Blade Runner - The Director's Cut (Remastered Limited Edition)
"Possibly Ridley Scott's best film outside of Alien.  Like many dystopian films, this is based on a Philip K. Dick story.  The story, the characters, the cinematography etc.; everything in this film comes together. Blade Runner shows us a world moving too quickly; some parts dead, some parts alive with corporate power and technology."
Metropolis (Restored Authorized Edition)
Metropolis (Restored Authorized Edition)
"Within the context of 1927, this might have been a shocking piece of cinema. It must've been quite an experience seeing it for the first time. It shows us a society split in half economically, critiquing communism and capitalism.  Though recently restored, a significant portion of this film is lost forever."
The Matrix
The Matrix
"Perhaps not mind-blowingly original, it was a huge step toward perfecting the method of making great action films.  Incredibly compelling story in a horrifying reality."
Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes
"Two thousand years into the future, civilized apes have dominated the world and humans are the animals.  The twist turns this film from solid science fiction to a brilliant dystopian tale."
The Road Warrior
The Road Warrior
"Sequel to Mad Max.  Post apocalyptic world that reflects a thorough breakdown of civilization.  Many lesser films were influenced by this cult classic."
1984
1984
"Made in 1984, this is in my opinion the best adaptation of the Orwell novel.  The cinematography is unique in this film and it really stands out in my memory for that.  Definitely does the story justice."
The Terminator
The Terminator
"Obviously a huge mainstream success and a higly influential film.  It may not be purely dystopian of course but it is just such a great movie I couldn't resist putting it in here.  Technological singularity took its course by 2029, found the ability to time travel, and sent Arnold to kill a significant human freedom fighter before he was born.  You really can't go wrong."
Children of Men
Children of Men
"This was my favorite film of 2006.  It did exactly what the greatest dystopian films do by offering us some great questions and very little hope if we don't answer them soon."
Brazil (The Criterion Collection Single Disc Special Editon)
Brazil (The Criterion Collection Single Disc Special Editon)
"A brilliant dystopian satire from Monty Python's Terry Gilliam.  His best film in my opinion.  The visual elements combined with the bashing of bureaucratic order make Brazil a unique and amazing film."
V for Vendetta (Two-Disc Special Edition)
V for Vendetta (Two-Disc Special Edition)
"The world under complete totalitarian rule.  The hero is an anarchist simply named V.  Extremely entertaining movie with a thought-provoking theme."
Logan's Run
Logan's Run
"A world where over-consumption of resources and over-population are controlled by murdering anyone over the age of 30.  Logan 5 doesn't like that he has to die, so he runs."
The Truman Show (Special Collector's Edition)
The Truman Show (Special Collector's Edition)
"Truman doesn't know that his entire life is broadcasted as a reality television show.  A unique existential film questioning the human drive for free will, even if the environment means safety."
Robocop (The Criterion Collection)
Robocop (The Criterion Collection)
"Murphy, a cop, exists in a Detroit wrought by heartless capitalism and violent crime.  He is maimed by criminals and brought back as the programmed Robocop.  In addition to being a great action movie Robocop explores some deeper questions and themes about capitalism and dehumanization."
Metropolis
Metropolis
"Probably the best anime film in the last 10 years.  Like the original 1927 Fritz Lang film, this Metropolis creates consistent commentaries about economic class struggles in the future."
Soylent Green
Soylent Green
"Overgrowth in population has forced society into a miserable and minimalist state, but population growth continues.  The Soylent Corporation creates a synthetic food named Soylent Green. People are euthanized and Soylent Green is, of course, people."
Equilibrium
Equilibrium
"War is prevented after WWIII by supressing all human emotions.  Feelings are outlawed and with it all things that provoke them.  It is of course a sad world but I almost forgot all of that after watching these amazing action sequences."
Escape from New York (Special Edition)
Escape from New York (Special Edition)
"John Carpenter's classic that takes us to a future where America is so overwhelmed with crime that Manhattan island has been turned into a prison.  Unfortunately the president crashes his plane there and Snake Plissken, a criminal himself, has got to find him in 22 hours."
Total Recall (1990)
Total Recall (1990)
"Another film with Arnold, another film directed by Paul Verhoeven and another film based on a Philip K. Dick story. The film takes us to 2084 and half of the film is set on Mars.  The audience begins to wonder if the trip to Mars is real or imaginary.  Highly influential and fun."
Akira
Akira
"An unexplained explosion takes place that destroys Tokyo.  30 years later (to the year 2019) and it is build up again into a dystopia complete with terrorism, political disorder, crime and an overall degenerate culture.  Many believe this to be among the greatest anime films ever made."
eXistenZ
eXistenZ
"David Cronenberg's recent film is a classic puzzle.  Its about a virtual reality game designed to attach to the bottom of your spine.  Like some other films here, this blurs the line between reality and delusion."
Dark City
Dark City
"Clearly similar in theme to the Matrix, but this did come out before it.  Another film heavily influenced by Fritz Lang's Metropolis and also explores themes similar to Philip K. Dick's stories."
Tron (20th Anniversary Collector's Edition)
Tron (20th Anniversary Collector's Edition)
"Disney's smart computer science fiction film that was visually impressive for its time.  The theme of computer games and simulated reality has gained it a bit of cult following.  There are recent rumors of a remake."
Death Race 2000 - Special Edition
Death Race 2000 - Special Edition
"An absolutely absurdist exploitation cult classic about a dystopian world where death is celebrated.  Another film that has a remake in the works."
Minority Report (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)
Minority Report (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)
"Speilberg's loose adaptation of the Philip K. Dick story. It is about police who aprehend criminals before they actually commit their crime.  Expensive film that has a very distintive visual style."