What Happens If We Actually Win This Time?

August 9, 2011

With the opening of Rise of The Planet of The Apes, I am reminded of all the films that have been set in a post-apocalyptic future. Which means basically almost every movie that’s ever been made about the future.

To list all the Dystopian, post-apocalyptic films would be an endless task. From The Terminator films, to The Planet of the Apes films, to the Matrix films to to the Mad Max films to even the recent Wall-E, we seem to have an endless “imagination” about how the world self-destructs or is stricken by a worldwide calamity.

On the other hand, how many Utopian films can you name that are set in the future where that future is bright and happy and the world has not had to suffer a global calamity to get there? Please list as many as you can.

The Jetsons perhaps? Yeah, I think that’s a bit of a stretch too but someone always comes up with that answer when I mention this challenge so it’s been duly noted and we can move on.

Do any other Utopian films immediately come to mind or do you think you might need some time to look titles up on www.imdb.com or elsewhere? But if I asked you to name Dystopian films, my guess is that you could rattle off at least a dozen titles  right away, yes?

Why are there so many dozens of Dystopian films but so few–so VERY few–Utopian films?

One obvious answer is that there is something dramatically compelling about “the end of the world.” Such films tap into our greatest fears for ourselves, our families, and our planet. Crashing asteroids, invading aliens, exploding suns, and environmental catastrophes make great use of digital visual effects as well. So that’s an easy answer, the “low-hanging fruit”, so to speak.

But what else lies at the core of our fascination with planetary destruction?

Could it be that maybe we remember other ancient times and epochs on this planet when this destructive cycle actually happened on earth? Did, for instance, civilizations such as Atlantis and Lemuria really exist as highly advanced societies until they blew themselves up in some way?

If we have in some way lived through “the end times” before, perhaps our genetic memory is reminding us that we are close to another one of those potential cycles. Maybe this time, however, we are reminding ourselves through film and other artistic expressions of how it was in the past so that we can manifest a different future?

For many, the specter of the “end” of the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012 looms in the future as the trigger moment of another potentially life-changing cycle. Personally, I have no question in my mind that we will not only survive that date, but we truly have the chance of manifesting an extraordinary future for ourselves and our planet.

Perhaps our collective consciousness has created decades of end-of-the-world movies so we can avoid that fate this time around. And perhaps the reason that we have had so few films about a future where we actually survive and prosper without an Apocalypse is that we have no genetic memory of that happening….yet.


What do you think?


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Asha Hawkesworth August 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm

I wrote about this very thing on several occasions. Can you imagine, for example, a world without antagonists? Nearly every story that we tell has an antagonist in it. What if there simply weren’t any? Because that’s what peace looks like.

I think we have a hard time imagining Utopia for the same reason that we have a hard time imagining “Heaven.” What would we do with ourselves? It sounds kind of boring… (I always think of the scene in the original “Bedazzled” in which The Devil demonstrates to Dudley Moore what Heaven is like. “Look here, can’t we trade places?” “That’s just what I said!”)

I was so incredibly disappointed in the way “Avatar” played out. Really, we have this amazing, unified world in a higher consciousness, and it all ends up in a Hollywood gunfight? What if the bombs had turned to roses as they fell to Earth? Is that too boring?

There are indeed far too few Utopian tales, but I not only think it can be done, but be done well, and both entertain and touch people. In the meantime, though, I do think that these films are just reflections of our consciousness, and the information that comes through, even with guns a’blazing, is helping to prepare us for the glorious years we still have ahead. We can create whatever we want. And it will be good.

Oh, I did think of a Utopian tale. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time: Frank Capra’s “Lost Horizon.” God, I love that film.


Lauren simon August 10, 2011 at 10:06 am

Interesting Stephen,


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