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All that dystopian films are suppressing... and revealing

An essays on three dystopian films — Silent Running by Douglas Trumbull (1972), Logan’s Run by Michael Anderson (1976), and They Live by John Carpenter (1988). Silent Running distinguishes itself among dystopian films as one of the first science-fiction films that deals with environmental issues. Furthermore, the film refrains from any display of robots in the context of fear of technology, although it centres on a world in which nature was ruined by technology. On the contrary, robots are the only friends that the protagonist makes. Silent Running should be interpreted as a critique of the environmental movement on the technology-man level. It shows that irrational fear of technology is already in advance part of an ideological awareness that does not want to admit that men create technology, so the film can be seen as a critique of the environmental discourse. Logan’s Run is a film about the relationship between utopia and dystopia. However, unlike one-dimensional presentations in which it is always possible to make a distinction between utopia and dystopia, here is the situation somewhat more complex: the underground City should by all classical definitions represent a utopian world, whereas the terrestrial world should be dystopian. However, what for some is dystopia, for others is utopia, and vice versa. Another Logan’s Run message is that Love always needs uncertainty, and this is what the »outer world« brings, together with responsibility. Love always needs evil, i.e. there are no perfect conditions — and these conditions were in fact met in the dystopian world where every wish could come true by pressing the button. In that sense, Logan’s Run can also be interpreted as a critique of the hippie movement of the 1968 generation. The film They Live is in some way similar to the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers: aliens look just like other people in both films, but a terrible truth is hidden beneath the appearances. However, unlike Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which can be interpreted as a Hollywood account of the McCarthy era and fear of the »red ones« who infiltrated into our society, They Live is primarily focused on the criticism of ideology, consumerism, commercials; anticipation of the leftist criticism of today’s global capitalism.

Srećko Horvat

The Golden crates of communism (on Aleksandar Dovzhenko’s film poetics)

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