You will be redirected back to your article in seconds
Back to IndieWire

Apocalypse Now: The Rise of Dystopian Cinema

Apocalypse Now: The Rise of Dystopian Cinema

Thompson on Hollywood

As wildfires fires rage in California, polar glaciers melt, ocean levels rise, and hurricanes grow more powerful as the world gets warmer, we are looking not only at The Age of Stupid, but the rise of Dystopian Cinema.

A Dystopian world is the opposite of a Utopian one, basically: usually miserable, poverty-stricken, and dehumanizing. Last year Wall-E proved a surprise blockbuster, while 2009 brought us Alex Proyas’s Knowing, starring Nic Cage as a man facing a grim forecast for the world; McG’s Terminator Salvation, set in the future as John Connor (Christian Bale) rages against the Machines; and Neill Blomkamp’s sleeper hit District 9 with its insect-like aliens living in a fetid South African slum. Just hitting cinemas: Shane Acker’s animated 9, while still to come is John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, the British documentary hybrid The Age of Stupid, and the latest sky-is-falling installment from Roland Emmerich, 2012: dystopian movies all.

Thompson on Hollywood

If we’re not scared yet, we should be.

Watch the Age of Stupid trailer and vote for your favorite dystopian movie on the jump:

Filmmakers have been imagining the end of the world and what life would be like for its survivors since William Cameron Menzies’ 1936 H.G. Wells adaptation Things to Come. The nuclear age brought 1959’s On the Beach, followed decades later by George Miller’s 1979 Mad Max and its sequels, Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner, and more recently, Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men (2006) and Will Smith in Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (2007).

Opening September 9, the animated 9 pits friendly humanoid robots against deadly monster-bots. Set to open October 16 after its debut at the Toronto Film Festival, The Road stars Viggo Mortensen as a father trying to protect his young son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in a hostile, fire-ravaged world inhabited by gangs of cannibals scavenging for food. Here’s the Apple trailer. UPDATE: Another movie coming up that fits the bill is the Hughes brothers’ Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington as yet another warrior in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The Guardian has theories about this trend.

Thompson on Hollywood

The post-apocalyptic disaster movie is one strain of the genre. Armed with the latest VFX, will 2012 prove as successful on November 13 as Emmerich’s other destroy-the-Earth scenarios Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow? Here’s the 2012 trailer:

It doesn’t have to happen. Fanny Armstrong’s terrifying DIY eco-doc drama The Age of Stupid stars Pete Postlethwaite as a man in 2055 sitting on top of a melted Arctic, surveying the damage that could have been prevented: the world is largely flooded and deserted. The film world premieres via satellite direct to 440 digital screens on September 21 during UN Climate Week, when world leaders will meet to discuss reforming the world’s environmental Kyoto Treaty. “Our response to climate change will define our generation, in the same way that ending apartheid, overturning slavery or landing on the moon defined earlier generations,” says Armstrong. “At the moment, we are The Age of Stupid, but there is still time to turn things round. We’re launching this event in the U.S. and globally, with the aim of inspiring 250 million viewers to leap into action before the world leaders decide our collective fate at the crucial UN Climate Summit in December. All of life on Earth is at stake, so may as well aim high.”

The Age of Stupid USA Trailer from Age of Stupid on Vimeo.

What is your favorite dystopian movie?
Blade Runner
On the Beach
Terminator: Salvation
Mad Max
The Road Warrior
Children of Men
Dark City
District 9
Fahrenheit 451
Metropolis (1927)
Total Recall
Independence Day
The Day After Tomorrow
Planet of the Apes (1968)
THX 1138
Twelve Monkeys
Strange Days
I, Robot
Soylent Green
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)
Artificial Intelligence: A.I.
The Matrix
A Clockwork Orange
Escape from New York
Wings of Desire
War of the Worlds (1953)
Minority Report
Gattaca free polls

This Article is related to: Uncategorized and tagged , , , ,



Ok then, I'll have to shamelessly plug my post-apo sci-fi comedy feature film entitled "Hellacious Acres : The Case of John Glass" (2011). Trailers and info at

Nima Moinpour

Documentary movies are the best source for this line of cinema, “Dystopian Cinema.” Have you forgotten about the TB deaths in Indian, the limbs blown off in Afghanistan, while the civilian contractors make money through this imperialist invasion? What would you say about the dumbness of the American teen, who is floated by the ferocious river of Cool Culture; having been swapped from under from the rational and empathetic outlook that is necessary for true progression?
My claim is simple. Documentary cinema captures the frustrations of the world. Imagine the world would speak of its troubles and that’s what it would speak of. But the apathy, the utter neglect of its outcry is because of the bombastic attitude instilled through the American mindset, by its post WWII generation. This group I speak of have a bitter taste in the mouth from the war. They are from all countries that ware directly affected by the decision of one evil imperialist: Hitler. He entrusted in them, an attitude of total distrust of “other” nations. As if to say, “to each his own. His problem, his worry.”
How do we solve it all? By assigning and rewarding the innovative and adventurous ways of thought. For we desperately need to change our national attitude and partake in the new Global revolution. For that we must get rid of “to each his own attitude;” and attitude that our grandpa’s taught our dad’s and our dad’s taught us. We need rebellious children to be rewarded. This new policy is needed now and it is only suited for our times. Maybe after a while, these children, who idealistically challenge the common procedures will realize the need for “Global attitude,” and after actualizing it, will develop and educational system that truly rewards innovation, and making this policy (rebellion) as the common convention. This would be the paradoxical solution I suggest.


You’re forgetting a few upcoming films. Legion, Book of Eli, that zombie comedy with Woody Harrelson. I can’t remember all of them, but when I saw District 9, 5 out of 6 trailers were for end-of-the-world movies. Maybe half of them based on video games, which would explain a lot.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *