I saw Soylent Green several years ago—it took place in 2022, but was made in the early 1970s. It was a futuristic movie without any digital technology; no iPhones, no computers, no Apple Watches or other wearable tech. I was always really fascinated by this, by the idea that we’re predicting the future based on what we know now, and some things can’t even be dreamed of (a good rebuttal to this is 2001: A Space Odyssey, that had similar tech to iPads and Siri, but let’s move past that for now).
For instance, 20 years before the first car, what would people have dreamed of? There’s a famous Henry Ford quote that goes, “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a better horse.” Futuristic scenarios are decided by the creative minds, by those able to imagine the unimaginable.
I also like to joke about the world being predicted for us—I feel like every movie that features sentient robots, be they androids or droids or a cyborg-like character, they ALWAYS turn on us. When does it ever work out? Everyone’s so excited about having a fridge tell them when they need eggs and a door that tells them it’s time to leave, but I saw the Disney channel original movie Smart House. It didn’t end well for them. We seem to be so terrified of this tech world we’re entering into.
To sort of play with this idea, I picked 25 popular futuristic movies, some I liked, some were recommendations from friends. I wanted to look and see how many of them really show us ending up okay. Honestly, not that many of them did—I hesitated to count Zenon because the bad corporate guys were technically trying to blow up the space station, and hesitated to count The Fountain because in their future, Hugh Jackman is in a flying orb in space with a dying tree and I couldn’t decide if that was good or bad. The only real utopia was created by Bill & Ted, so, well done you guys.