Sci-fi Films That Present a Bleak Vision of the Future

Yes, the title of this thread might be a bit redundant, but I would still appreciate any thoughts about the best (or middle, or worst) films in this genre.

Minority Report *(any future with Tom Cruise is bleak :D)

Soylent Green: In 2022 the population of New York City is 40 million, and it’s generally like that in every city. The greenhouse effect has killed almost every living thing, and humans must survive on little wafers from the Soylent company made from plankton in the sea (or so they’re told).




All the Mad Max movies

1984 doesn’t really fit. I mean, it was a bleak vision, but wasn’t taking place in the future. At least not the future anymore, although it was the future when the book the movie was based on was written, in the past. Right?

I didn’t see the movie, but The Time Machine sounded pretty bleak.

Lost in Space

The Fifth Element

Planet of the Apes (mostly thinking of the original one here) although the future maybe wasn’t so bad if you were an ape.

Didn’t they make a movie of On the Beach ?

Logan’s Run

All the Alien movies.

In addition to the excellent choices here, I’d add Dark City, which is a bleak vision of the future that doesn’t seem so at first. Check it out and you’ll see.

I’ll throw in Lost in Space, which implies the future will be filled with babbling idiots.

Escape from New York and Escape from L.A. are more goofy than dystopian, but check them out, anyway.

Other than the Tom Cruise factor the future in Minority Report was anything but bleak.

[hijack] I could hardly find anyone to see that movie with me - almost all my female friends avoided that movie because they didn’t want to see anything with Tommy in it! [/hijack]

Also, I don’t think The Fifth Element was bleak at all. Flying cars and supercities? I am SO there!

I don’t think Dark City was set in the future.

All the futuristic bits were alien technology. Plus why ape the 30’s unless that’s the time period all the abductees came from?

You can break down the movies by category of bleak future:

A nuclear holocost destroyed civilization: Planet of the Apes, Mad Max, etc., etc.

Ecological collapse left the world desperately impoverished: Soylent Green.

The Company, or a handful of big corporations, runs everything with no regard for freedom or human rights: Blade Runner, Robocop, Total Recall, Aliens, Outland, etc., etc.

The future is bizarre, crazy, or just plain stupid: Fifth Element, Max Headroom, Lost In Space, etc., etc.

Its actual title Make Room! Make Room!, I think the book made a much more forceful impression on me, even though it omits the whole “Soylent-Green Is People” thread, as well as the organized euthanasia. For one thing, the story was supposed to take place in 1999 - 2000, which is already past, and things are not nearly that bad, thank God. Another disturbing episode takes place shortly after Sol dies, and Detective Thorne hears a knock at his door. It’s family of eight who swarm in with a government issued “squat order”: this apparently entitles the bearer to move in on someone in place of a room mate who dies or leaves. Later, we find the kids defecating on the floor, because as their father says, “You wouldn’t want them to go all the way down to the street, would you?”

Thanks for the replies. Movies like Soylent Green, Rollerball, and Bladerunner are exactly what I’m after.

Fifth Element, while very entertaining, isn’t really what I’m looking for - it’s more of a parody/comedy/action movie. It doesn’t give you that plaintive feeling.

Twelve Monkeys was the first thing I thought of when I read the title.

Hardware depicts a very bleak future, as does Delicatessen --though that one isn’t really sci-fi. The Matrix and the Terminator movies offer an unsavory future, at least for humans. There’s also The Running Man and Waterworld :eek:

Silent Running, an early '70’s film starring Bruce Dern as the world’s last ecologist. There is no plant life left on Earth; the whole planet is paved over and it’s 72 degrees F no matter where you go. The last plants are kept in biodomes in space, until budget cuts in the space program lead them to be destroyed…except for one dome Bruce Dern saves.

You never actually see the Earth in this film, but I always remember the description of it–it’s so very dreary.

I don’t know how I missed that one.

Silentgoldfish , I was mostly thinking of Bruce Willis’ closet-sized apartment in Fifth Element…the implication was that there wasn’t much room left on Earth. Also the mountains of garbage at the spaceport. And Chris Tucker.

Didn’t Star Trek: First Contact have a brief vision of a future Earth completely taken over by the Borg? Probably the bleakest future I could imagine.

Not nearly as bleak as the thought that humanity turns into the braindead pile of rectal squirtings that is the Federation.

THX 1138


A Clockwork Orange (I know, not really sci-fi or even the future per se, but it tends to be lumped in that genre)

Oh, I forgot to add:

Humanity as we know it becomes extinct, and something else inherits the world: A.I., etc.

The Terminator has one of the bleakest futures I’ve seen; damn those machines! (It is hard to forget the image of relentless steel treads crushing human skulls…)

I have to strongly disagree; in the future world of Minority Report, people seem to have given up any idea of a right to privacy, and passively submit to be constantly retina-scanned and searched by police robots; at the same time, they’re constantly bombarded with advertisements on every surface. The criminal justice system can apparently put people into comas forever without a trial. Bleak indeed, the more so because it seems very possible. (And I’m inclined to think that the apparent happy ending is a fantasy Tom Cruise has after being unjustly put away among the living dead.)

We could probably list dozens, if not hundreds of movies. The late 1950’s to early 1970’s saw a lot of “cautionary tale” movies. A partial list:

No Blade of Grass
The World, the Flesh and the Devil
Panic in the Year Zero
Any Roger Corman movie…

Some movies, like Alien, Blade Runner and Mad Max, spawn dozens of imitations, mostly pretty bad. Did anybody see 2020 Texas Gladiators? (Apparently Texas is in Italy.)