The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Utopian Movies ( #atozchallenge )


The films that I'll be listing in my April postings may not necessarily be films that I'd call my favorite films, but they will be favorites in the genres I'll be naming.   The A to Z genres are very specific micro genres as opposed to the broader genres like action, romance, or comedy.

      Somehow Utopia always sounds like it should be wonderful, but in literature and film it's never as good as it seems on the surface.  I guess that's why there's a story.  Humankind develops perfect society, but things are not really as good as it all appears or something goes drastically wrong.  

      Here are some of my favorite films based on Utopian societies:

Lost Horizon (1937)-- Planeload of Brits gets hijacked and crashes in the remote mountain area near the legendary Shangri-La.   You'd think they'd be happy in such a perfect world, but, no, they need to get back to their world.  There are consequences.

Logan's Run (1976)-- It's a perfect world until you turn 30 and then it's the end of the line folks.  Most citizens accept this fate, but a small group don't want to end things there.  Logan decides to become a "runner" and once away from Utopia he discovers that his fellow citizens have been fed a lie.  Now what to do?

The Mosquito Coast (1986)-- Harrison Ford stars as an idealistic inventor who moves his family to Belize to start a Utopian society.   For starters it's in the jungle.  What could possibly go wrong there?

Total Recall (1990)--In the future you can make all your dreams come true.  Or are those nightmares?


Pleasantville (1998)-- Things always seemed so perfect in some of those old TV shows from the 50's.  What would happen if you actually ended up in that imaginary TV world?

The Truman Show (1998)--Truman Burbank has been living in the perfect world since the day he was born. Then one morning he awakes to begin suspecting that perhaps all in his world is not as it seems.  How could life be so perfect?

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)--In the future, society will try to make life perfect in as many ways as it can.   This may include providing us with perfect children.   Of course we know that nothing in this world is perfect.

Minority Report (2002)--In a perfect future, crime will be eliminated.  Since we already know nothing in this world is perfect, something is bound to put a kink in the system when we try to make it so.  This is a sci-fi mystery thriller directed by Steven Spielberg and based on a story by Philip K. Dick.  Some cool futuristic world building in this film.

The Island (2005)-- A lot borrowed from Logan's Run with much the same story, but with better special effects and some great action sequences.   This film gets a lot of mixed reviews, but I liked it quite a bit.

Wall-E (2008)-- Things on Earth have not gone well in the future, but the humans who have managed to escape are living in a Utopian world inside a spacecraft.  With every need tended to by robots, the humans are living fat and happy--literally fat and happy because they know no other life.  This is an animated film from Pixar. 

         
Which of these films do you like?   Can you suggest other films based on Utopian society?   Would you like to live in a Utopian society?



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35 comments:

  1. always been a fan of "logan's run" from the first time i had seen it... just like "westworld", robots in disguise. i would like to add to the list "wizard of oz"... i think that counts?

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  2. I can just about recall Logan's Run but the others I haven't seen.
    I have enjoyed your selections over the challenge and realised I have missed more than I have seen.

    Yvonne.

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  3. I LOVED the Island so much. I think if they promoted it better it would've been a box office success. Minority Report and A.I. were also great and held it's mix of tragedy and great sci-fi.

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  4. Good thought, Jeremy - Westworld and Futureworld. Also Demolition Man where there are almost no murder-death-kills and every restaurant is Taco Bell. (Just watched it recently so it's fresh on the brain.)

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  5. This is such a great list of films Lee, absolutely love so many of them here, especially the masterpiece that is The Truman Show. Great stuff buddy, these kinds of films is where it's at it seems.

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  6. Ah, the opposite of Dystopian. Truman Show was the best! Utopian novels are some of the best as well.

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  7. Ah, the Mosquito Coast, named for the Miskito Indians of Hondoras. The movie made me cringe but sometimes I think about it now that I'm living in the jungle of Akumal, Mexico. I do have lots of ice though and 2 rental units for tourists.

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  8. Unfortunately, I haven't seen most of these. I want to see "The Mosquito Coast."

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  9. I loved THE TRUMAN SHOW and PLEASANTVILLE. I vaguely remember THE MOSQUITO COAST - River Phoenix was in it, too, I believe.

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  10. The original Matrix I thought was good. And, though the movie "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" was more a cautionary tale, where Howard ended up seemed pretty Utopian to me. :-)

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  11. OMG i loved me some Logan's Run! Isnt that where Bobby from Dallas came from? Anyway, I loved Wall E too. I dont like when Utopian's mess up. It makes me a sad panda; and it usually makes the place more sinister than a dystopian society, no?

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  12. Never thought of myself as a fan of 'Utopian Movies', BUT I have seen everyone of these flicks and liked most of them. 'Lost Horizions' one of my favorites, but I'm a sucker for those 'old timey' flicks.

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  13. Jeremy -- Wizard of Oz was one of my original considerations. I like that choice.

    Yvonne -- We need a real Utopia don't we!

    Sheena -- Agreed about The Island. I loved it!

    Alex -- Maybe I need to see Demolition Man. I missed that one.

    Yeamie -- The Truman Show was pretty ingenious. My DVD keeps calling me to watch it again.

    Dani -- These genres are interesting exercises in imagination.

    Em -- So are you in Utopia?

    Jolie -- You've missed some good movies in this list.

    Madeline--River Phoenix was indeed in Mosquito Coast.

    Rocky -- I guess it was his vision of his own personal Utopia though we don't see much of the reality of where he is.

    Pam -- I think one of the cautionary points of Utopian stories is that there is no real Utopia here on Earth. We always have either people or something else to screw things up.

    Farawayeyes -- Lost Horizons is frequently on TV and I usually drop in for at least part of it. Yeah, call me a sucker for old films for sure.

    Lee

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  14. I loved Logan's Run. Wasn't Peter Ustinov in that? I think I recall that he was the guy on the outside.

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  15. I'd love to live in a Utopia, but it quickly turns into a Dystopia, and that's pretty scary :/

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  16. I love "Lost Horizon"....great film and hard to believe it's from the same guy who gave us "It's A Wonderful Life".

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  17. ooh. I loved Wall-E! So adorable.
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  18. I think they did a remake of Lost Horizon that I saw growing up. I'm sure that it wasn't as good as the original. Another excellent list Lee!

    Julie

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  19. You've listed quite a few intriguing movies here. Wall-E was a lot of fun because the adults and kids had such different perspectives when we saw it. I find it's that way with a lot of animated movies these days.

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  20. Pleasantville frightened me so much I had to pace in the lobby as it was playing. In other words, I loved it. It really brought things to light for me and I consistently refer to it even though I only saw it once... when it was in the theaters way back when... (what year was that, anyway?)

    I am embarrassed to say I never saw "Lost Horizon" but I should put it on my must watch list.

    Now I am trying to think of Utopian movies. As odd as it sounds, "Freedom Writers" came to mind, perhaps because of the world which was created out of a prettty unwelcoming place... all due to writing & teaching.

    Happy A to Z-ing!
    Julie Jordan Scott
    Our Literary Grannies from A to Z:
    U is for Ursula Le Guin

    tweet me - @juliejordanscot

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  21. C.Lee - I think you might be right about that.

    Rebeccah --Humans cannot keep a Utopia going because other humans will always screw it up.

    Mark -- Capra had a lot of different films in him.

    Nutschell -- Wall-e was a clever concept.

    Julie -- I kept thinking the same thing, but I don't remember running across it.

    MJ -- It was a film about issues and ideas that could be enjoyed on different levels, but mostly comprehended to its fullest by adults.

    JJ Scott-- I plan to get to Freedom Writers in an upcoming topic, but I wouldn't call it Utopian.

    Lee

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  22. I liked all except A.I. and The Island. Something about the direction the plots took that bothered me.

    As a young idealist, a utopian society made perfect sense to me. Now? Things have changed.

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  23. I've seen and liked a few of these, Logan's Run, Minority Report, Artificial Intelligence, and Total Recall. I liked AI, I thought Jude Law did that role well.
    Anytime I hear 'Renew', I think of Logan's Run. . .

    Great list, Lee!

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  24. I've seen all but three of these. Might have to see them now. Didn't they make a movie out of Brave New World? Seems like there is always a price for happiness. Can't just have it, so I don't know if I'd like living in a utopian society... except by that principle, I already do in a way...

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  25. Darn, I keep forgetting to click on the email me follow up comments box!

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  26. Aren't they remaking Logan's Run?

    I remember in the movie Time After Time HG Wells came forward in the time machine in pursuit of Jack the Ripper and he'd hoped to find Utopia. Obviously, he didn't.

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  27. Susan -- I will agree that A.I. took a weird turn.

    DG - Thanks!

    Lisa - I'd heard a rumor about Brave New World but I'm not sure what happened to the film.

    L.Diane -- Seems like I heard a Logan's Run rumor as well.

    Lee

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  28. Oh my gosh, Lee, so many of your movies on this list turn out not be utopian at all. I've seen most of them. Lost Horizon, back when I was young and idealistic, really captured my imagination for a while. I ignored the problematic bits.
    Jagoda

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  29. Utopia always sounded terrible to me. I enjoyed several of those movies, although I seem to remember I didn't think much of the Mosquito Coast, WallE is one of my favourites though although how the fat and happy humans would ever manage back on earth I cannot imagine.

    JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

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  30. Jagoda -- That's the problem with Utopia--it never really is.

    Jo --Proper diet and exercise?

    Lee

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  31. I enjoyed this list as the theme of dystopian worlds (in both film and literature) is a favorite of mine. I would add THE BEACH starring Leo DiCaprio and Tilda Swinton. Great film!

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  32. Andi-Roo -- As I recall The Beach was not particularly well received critically, but I thought it was quite good. It's another one of those films I need to watch again.

    Lee

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  33. Since reading "The Giver" in 8th grade, I'd been a huge fan of these types of stories. "1984" was the most recent I read.
    A bunch of these, I really enjoyed, like Minority Report, Wall-E and A.I.
    Another one to consider: Farenheit 451, although I only saw that twice and it's been a long time.

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  34. Jackie -- I saw 451 quite a few years ago. I don't remember the Utopian aspects, but it was in the future. I need to check my Netflix list for The Giver as I did want to see that one.

    Lee


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  35. Dude, I LOVED The Island! It was so much better than I expected it to be. But Minority Report is probably my favorite on the list. I also loved the classic Total Recall, and I really liked A.I., even though it was slow (you could have put that one on your quiet films). I like most of the others on the list too. The worst one though, would be Judge Dredd. LOL :)

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: kristenhead.blogspot.com

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