Dystopian Literature: A Theory and Research Guide

By M. Keith Booker | Go to book overview

5
A GUIDE TO SELECTED DYSTOPIAN FILMS

INTRODUCTION

The extent to which dystopian thought reflects the mind-set of modernity can perhaps be best gauged by the wide variety of forms in which dystopian impulses are reflected in modern art and culture. The dystopian current that often informs the work of writers like Joyce, Kafka, Brecht, Forster, Zamyatin, Beckett, Pynchon, Rushdie, and Voinovich demonstrates the importance of this current in the "high" culture of the twentieth century. At the same time, the turn from early utopian optimism to later dystopian skepticism is one of the most important developments in the history of science fiction, a genre typically associated with "popular" culture. Mass media like film and television have recently taken a dystopian turn as well, indicating the wide currency of dystopian ideas in modern society and suggesting that such ideas hold a special appeal for audiences in the late twentieth century. The popularity of dystopian images in contemporary culture clearly offers an important opportunity for the makers of dystopian works to convey their ideas to a wide audience. At the same time, this very popularity poses serious problems, including the possibility that the conversion of dystopian images into popular entertainment might strip those images of their critical force. This section includes a summary of some recent important dystopian films, including discussions of the ways various films deal with these issues.

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