9 great Dystopian Society films worth a re-watch

10 March 2023
Dystopian refers to a society or community that is characterized by oppression, dysfunction, and often extreme suffering. In dystopian stories, the world is often presented as a bleak and terrifying place where individual freedom is nonexistent, and the government or a powerful entity exercises strict control over every aspect of citizens' lives.

People love films that feature dystopian themes because they provide a lens through which to examine the darker aspects of society and explore the consequences of political or societal choices. Dystopian films often serve as cautionary tales, warning viewers of the dangers of authoritarianism and oppressive regimes. 

Additionally, they allow people to imagine alternate realities, consider the potential outcomes of societal trends, and explore questions of morality and ethics. Dystopian films can also be cathartic, allowing viewers to experience a sense of relief or validation as they witness characters fighting against oppressive systems and striving for freedom and justice. 

Want to watch some?

See our line up!

children of men a classic dystopian film

9 Great examples of movies with dystopian themes:

  1. The Hunger Games (2012): Based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games is set in a post-apocalyptic North America. The story follows Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence - Mother!), a young woman who volunteers to participate in a televised fight to the death called the Hunger Games. The society depicted in the film is highly oppressive, with a wealthy elite living in luxury while the rest of the population struggles to survive.
  2. Blade Runner (1982): Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Blade Runner is set in a future Los Angeles where genetically engineered humans called replicants are used for dangerous work. When a group of replicants rebel, a retired cop known as Dekkardis brought back to track them down. The film paints a bleak picture of a society where humanity has been replaced by technology. The sequel 2049 ain't half bad either,
  3. Brazil (1985): Directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Jonathan Pryce, Brazil is a darkly comedic satire set in a dystopian society where bureaucracy has taken over. The narrative revolves around Sam Lowry, a low-level government bureaucrat, portrayed by Jonathan Pryce, living in a technologically advanced but soulless society. In this world, the government exerts overwhelming control over its citizens through relentless surveillance, bureaucratic processes, and an oppressive regime. Lowry, a daydreamer, finds himself inadvertently entangled in a series of events that lead him to become involved with a resistance movement. His life takes a dramatic turn when he encounters Jill Layton, played by Kim Greist, who becomes the object of his fantasies. As Lowry delves deeper into the underground world of rebels, he begins to question the very fabric of the society he's been a part of and his role within it. The film masterfully blends elements of dark comedy, fantasy, and political satire to critique the absurdities of modern bureaucracy and the loss of individual freedom in a hyper-controlled world. Directed by Terry Gilliam, "Brazil" stands as a compelling and visually stunning commentary on the dangers of unchecked governmental power and the importance of maintaining one's identity and humanity in the face of systemic oppression.
  4. V for Vendetta (2006): , "V for Vendetta," inspired by the graphic novel by the renowned Alan Moore, unfolds in a dystopian future England under the grip of a totalitarian regime. The narrative centers on a enigmatic and charismatic masked vigilante known simply as V, portrayed with intensity and nuance by Hugo Weaving (Mortal Engines, The Matrix). V embarks on a solitary crusade against the oppressive government, employing a blend of cunning, theatricality, and direct action. As his fight against the regime's injustices intensifies, V becomes not just a symbol of rebellion, but also a catalyst, inspiring others to join in the struggle for freedom. The story weaves a complex tapestry of resistance, ideology, and personal redemption, set against a backdrop of political intrigue and societal decay.
  5. Children of Men (2006): Directed by the visionary Alfonso Cuarón and featuring a compelling lead performance by Clive Owen, "Children of Men" is a cinematic masterpiece set against the backdrop of a dystopian future where humanity grapples with widespread infertility. In this bleak world, the birth of a child becomes a rare and miraculous event. The plot centers on Owen's character, who finds himself tasked with a mission of utmost importance: escorting a woman who has miraculously become pregnant to a place of safety. This journey is set in a society teetering on the edge of total collapse, where lawlessness and desperation have become the norm. As they traverse this dangerous landscape, they encounter relentless obstacles and individuals driven by desperation and nefarious motives, all of whom are determined to impede their progress at any cost. Amidst this chaos, the film introduces Michael Caine in an unforgettable supporting role, adding depth and nuance to the narrative. His performance, alongside Owen's, contributes significantly to the film's emotional impact. "Children of Men" is steeped in an atmosphere of despair, reflected not only in its storyline but also through its gritty visual style and tense, immersive storytelling. The movie excels in creating a palpable sense of urgency and hopelessness, making it a profound commentary on the fragility of society and the enduring strength of hope in times of crisis.
  6. Elysium (2013): Directed by Neill Blomkamp and starring Matt Damon, Elysium is set in a future where the wealthy elite live on a space station called Elysium while the rest of the population lives in poverty on a ruined Earth. In the gripping narrative, the protagonist, faced with a dire health crisis, embarks on a perilous journey to Elysium, a utopian space habitat where advanced medical treatments are available. His quest is fraught with challenges, as Elysium is heavily fortified and accessible only to the elite, making his mission not just a personal struggle but a commentary on societal divides. Determined to survive, he must navigate a world of political intrigue and technological barriers, showcasing his resilience and ingenuity. As the story unfolds, it becomes a thrilling race against time, blending intense action with profound questions about healthcare accessibility and social equity.
  7. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015): Directed by George Miller and starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In a post-apocalyptic landscape where the scarcity of essential resources like water and gasoline has plunged society into chaos and desperation, the story centers around a formidable woman, portrayed by Charlize Theron. She finds herself in a relentless struggle against the oppressive rule of a tyrannical leader, played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who commands a group of survivors. Theron's character, driven by a fierce desire for freedom and justice, becomes the beacon of rebellion in this desolate world. Her journey is fraught with danger, moral dilemmas, and intense confrontations, as she navigates the treacherous terrain of a society teetering on the brink of complete collapse. Her defiance against the tyrant not only challenges his iron-fisted control but also sparks a glimmer of hope among the oppressed, setting the stage for a gripping tale of resilience, survival, and the indomitable human spirit.
  8. The Road (2009): Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, "The Road," set in a post-apocalyptic America, weaves a harrowing tale of survival and the unbreakable bond between a father and son, played by Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee. They embark on a grueling journey to the coast, their only hope for safety in a world ravaged by an unspecified catastrophe that has left civilization in ruins. This desolate landscape, devoid of life and filled with constant threats, forms the backdrop of their odyssey. The original novel, written by Cormac McCarthy, cements his reputation as one of America's finest writers, offering a profound exploration of human resilience and the enduring power of love amidst utter despair. McCarthy's narrative, rich in haunting imagery and lyrical prose, delves deeper into the emotional and psychological complexities of its characters than the film adaptation. It's a poignant reminder of the power of literature, urging readers to experience the novel first to fully grasp the depth and intensity of this apocalyptic vision. McCarthy proved himself to be one of the finest writers America ever produced with the novel. Forget the film, read the novel first.
  9. The Giver (2014): Based on the novel by Lois Lowry, "The Giver," a thought-provoking tale set in a seemingly utopian society, centers around the life of a young man named Jonas, portrayed by Brenton Thwaites (Teen Titans). In this world, where pain, suffering, and the burden of choice are eradicated, Jonas is selected to inherit the position of the Receiver of Memory, the sole keeper of the community's collective experiences and history. As he begins his training under the guidance of the Giver, played by Jeff Bridges, Jonas uncovers the unsettling truths hidden beneath the placid surface of his society. He learns about the sacrifices and harsh realities that have been concealed to maintain this controlled environment, where emotions and memories are suppressed. This revelation leads him on a journey of self-discovery and moral awakening, as he grapples with the complex notions of freedom, individuality, and the essence of what it means to be human. "The Giver" challenges viewers to question the price of peace and uniformity, delving into themes of memory, history, and the power of knowledge in shaping our understanding of the world. 
  10. And bonus film, Logan's Run...


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My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

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