Do you like being frightened? What sends chills up and down your spine? For some, it’s lots of blood, guts and more blood. For others, it’s all about dark and creepy places that no one in their right mind would go near. For me, it’s stories about totalitarian societies.
Don’t get me wrong; I find the other stuff plenty unsettling (I’ll never watch The Exorcist by myself at night ever again!). And stories about dictatorial regimes don’t really scare me per se. It’s just that I know that Michael Meyers or Freddy Kruger aren’t real (at least that’s what I tell myself under the covers to give me courage). But real monsters like Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler or Pol Pot have existed in our past. So what’s to stop others from following in their footsteps?
That’s what I find so alarming about my following top 5 movies about totalitarian societies : that they could actually become reality…again.
5. Fahrenheit 451 (1966) What’s wrong with a good old fashion book burning to rid our society of the evils of Harry Potter? And why shouldn’t we protect our little Johnny by banning trashy novels like All quiet on the Western front. These are great traditions that have lasted for thousands of years and that are still practiced to this day. So watch this movie with that in mind and tell yourself that it’s only fiction.
4. A Clockwork Orange Why can’t we just leave little Johnny and his nice friends alone? I mean, boys will be boys. What’s wrong with a little mischief. Well…plenty. And Kubrick’s masterful interpretation of Anthony Burgess’ dystopian novel doesn’t hold back on the violence. Plus, Malcolm McDowell has never been better as the menacing antagonist of this fraked up totalitarian society.
3. 1984 George Orwell’s dark novel about a totalitarian political elite that controls every aspects of it’s citizen’s lives is highly disconcerting. Furthermore, what renders this bleak film even more unsettling is the fact that we have seen similar repressive regimes come to life not so long ago. And I’m not giving anything away by saying that this story has one downer of an ending. A classic that must be seen, just not on a first date.
2. V for Vendetta In my previous pick, the protagonist is crushed by Big Brother when he attempts to assert his individualism. In this film, the main character decides to fight back and bring down the ruling totalitarian regime. Hey! There’s a thought! What if V is just Winston Smith come back to exact his revenge on the elite that had broken him at the end of 1984? A great double bill that restores hope for humanity.
1. Alphaville I know I’m going artsy fartsy with this pick, but there’s no denying the brilliance of Jean-Luc Goddard’s vision. Locations in and around Paris stand in for a futuristic city on a distant planet, to amazing results. The less you know about this very original film the better. And don’t be put off by the fact that it’s filmed in black and white and has subtitles. Highly recommended.
Honorable mention : Brazil
P.S. : If you like my selection of movies about totalitarian regimes, make sure you check out my Top 5 Dystopian Society Movies.