Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dystopian sci-fi

I've commented a couple of times in the past about how there's a wide streak of dystopianism in 1970s movies. I've mentioned the conspiracy theories in movies like The Parallax View and The Stepford Wives, for example. All those all-star disaster movies certainly qualify as dystopian. And then there's the science-gone-wrong-fiction. It's that last group that makes up most of a good portion of tonight's prime time lineup on TCM.

The night kicks off with Close Encounters of the Third Kind at 8:00 PM. Although there's certainly a conspiracy theory here, with the US government trying to keep regular people from seeing what's going to be coming to Devil's Tower, I think this is actually more of a hopeful movie than a dystopic film. Certainly it is compared to the rest of the movies coming up.

Don't blame me for calling tonight's films sci-fi; that's TCM's decision. (Suprisingly, while TCM's schedule page says that tonight's prime-time lineup is "70s sci-fi", all of the features are listed as being in the horror genre. Go figure.) I think I'd call the second film tonight neither sci-fi nor horror, but a dystopic drama that just happens to be set in the future: Rollerball, at 10:30 PM.

The third film is Logan's Run, at 12:45 AM, about a society that kills its people when they get to be 30 years old. Of course, there are people who try to escape the system because they don't want to die young. Certainly dystopian, and more science here than in Rollerball. That's followed by a featurette on the making of the movie; I personally think TCM should have come up with a schedule that had this featurette promoting the movie and showing well before it.

The last two films fit squarely in the sci-fi camp: Westworld, at 3:00 AM, which I blogged about back in September 2008. It's got animatronic cowboys and other historical figures gone wild, so it clearly fits the bill both of sci-fi and dystopic.

Last but not least, at 4:30 AM, is Soylent Green, in which Charlton Heston learns the disturbing truth about how our food is made. One wonders what Martha Stewart could have done with Soylent Green.

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