There are several films in the cinema industry that approach the theme of my current project (see New Brief) in one way or another. While some are simply placed in the future and depict the contrasts between utopia and dystopia — the Hunger Games and Elysium, for example —, others — like Coraline, Alice in Wonderland, Blade Runner or The Beach — analyse how a reality that seems to be a utopia can quickly become a dystopia.
Two great films I watched for this project went even further than that and really played around with the concept of utopia and dystopia:
Take The Truman Show. Although the world he lived in was meant to be a utopia, it is clear for us that it was not. A world so repetitive and unchallenging like that could never feel right. For the eyes of everyone in the film, however, it represented the American dream.
In the end, when Truman finds out he has been living a fake life, his world becomes — now to him, more than to anyone else — a dystopia. A world designed that way would inevitably fall apart.
To me, it is like his world was a utopia and dystopia at the same time.
The other film I quite liked was the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The story is set in reality and it plays around the question “Is ignorance bliss?”. Clementine seems to think so and she decides to erase all the memories she has of her boyfriend, good and bad, because she believes she would be happier without him and the memory of him.
I think the characters in this film are led to believe that ignorance creates a utopia, somekind of world where we never feel sad. However, as Clementine realises, ignorance creates in fact a dystopia. Although the memories were lost, the instinct that made her fall in love with her boyfriend still lives in her, which is translated in a feeling of emptiness that makes her always feel sad.