Totalitarian Control in "Equilibrium"

18 April 2023
The 2002 science-fiction film "Equilibrium" is a poignant commentary on authoritarianism and the dangers of a society that suppresses individuality and emotions in favor of order and conformity. Set in a dystopian future, the film follows the story of John Preston, a high-ranking law enforcement officer in the totalitarian government that controls every aspect of citizens' lives.

Authoritarianism itself is a form of government or social organization in which individual freedom and rights are subordinated to the power and authority of the ruling class or government. In an authoritarian system, citizens have limited or no say in how they are governed and are often subjected to strict controls, censorship, and surveillance. The government typically uses force and fear to maintain its authority and suppress any opposition, and dissent or criticism is often met with punishment or repression. Common examples of such governments include the Nazi Regime, the USSR and Spain under Francisco Franco.

equilibrium film poster

One of the central themes of the movie is the suppression of human emotions and creativity in favor of order and control. Citizens are required to take daily doses of a drug called "Prozium" which suppresses all emotions, including love, happiness, and even grief. 

This creates a society that is devoid of any genuine human connection, where people merely go through the motions of life without experiencing any real joy or passion.

The film also highlights the dangers of censorship and the suppression of ideas. In the world of "Equilibrium," books, art, and music are all banned, and possession of any of these items is punishable by death. 

The government controls all media and propaganda, shaping citizens' perceptions and limiting their access to information. This leads to a society that is both intellectually and creatively stagnant, where people are deprived of the opportunity to explore new ideas and concepts.

The film also explores the idea of blind obedience to authority. The government in "Equilibrium" is a totalitarian regime that demands complete loyalty from its citizens, and anyone who questions or challenges its authority is swiftly dealt with. 

The law enforcement officers, including John Preston, are brainwashed from an early age to believe in the government's mission and are willing to do whatever it takes to uphold its laws, even if it means sacrificing their own humanity and personal values.

However, in classic Hollywood style, the film also shows that even in a society as repressive as the one in "Equilibrium," there are still individuals who are willing to rebel against the status quo and fight for their freedom.

These individuals, like John Preston, are often motivated by their own experiences of loss and suffering, which compel them to seek out a better life for themselves and others.

In some ways, the government of this film shares similarities with the film THX 1138 - in which the people are also required to take medication for their emotions and are subject to government control. 


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

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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