Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Future-gazing with Sci-fi films

Neill Blomkamp’s next film Elysium is a futuristic take on anti-migrant policies. Here’s how older sci-fis saw the future

Jasodhara Banerjee
Published: Sep 14, 2013 06:54:22 AM IST
Updated: Sep 14, 2013 08:38:19 AM IST
Future-gazing with Sci-fi films
A still from Elysium

Gattaca (1997)
Written and directed by Andrew Niccol (he also wrote The Truman Show), this Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman starrer is about a future where the destiny of humans is decided by their genes. In a world similar to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Vincent Freeman (Hawke), born with a congenital heart condition and doomed to a lowly life, steals the identity of a genetically perfect man to be on a mission to Titan, Saturn’s 14th moon.

Blade Runner (1982)
Ridley Scott directed Philip K Dick’s story into a cult film, starring Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer. In 2019, Tyrell Corporation has perfected human clones (called Replicants), making them “more human than human”. The finest Replicant, Roy Batty (Hauer), leads a mutinous group of clones. Deckard (Ford) is a cop pulled out of retirement to hunt and kill them. Batty’s short soliloquy ‘Tears in Rain’, in the final scene, has been called one of the most memorable in cinema.

Minority Report (2002)
Philip K Dick’s story, directed by Steven Spielberg, is set in the Washington DC of 2054. Here, pre-emptive policing means apprehending and arresting ‘criminals’ even before they commit a crime, thanks to visions seen by three psychic humans, the Pre-Cogs. John Anderton (Tom Cruise) heads the elite PreCrime force and believes in its perfection, until the Pre-Cogs predict that he will kill an unknown man.

District 9 (2009)
Co-written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, the movie is set in Johannesburg, over which a massive spaceship appeared in 1982. For the next 20 years, it remained there, while its alien inhabitants were given refuge in a demarcated area—District 9—disturbingly reminiscent of sprawling, squalid migrant ghettos. The aliens, derogatorily called Prawns, are confined and exploited, and are not allowed to leave till they reveal the secrets of their weaponry.

THE Matrix (1999)

Written and directed by the Wachowski siblings, this version of the future is one in which machines have enslaved the minds of humans, and feed off their heat and electrochemical energy. Reality is not what everyone sees. Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves), a computer programmer by day and a hacker (called Neo) by night, is the one destined to fight super powerful computer programs in the humans’ rebellion against the world-dominating machines.

(This story appears in the 20 September, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)