Image Credit: Entertainment Film Distributors
Cinema is a way of looking into the future. It was the medium of collective dreaming in the 20th century, a giant mystical mirror which showed us a refracted version of ourselves, reality made real. Science-fiction cinema depicting the future has sought to dream our technological futures which undoubtedly, they have become. Now we are two decades into the twenty-first century, and it feels as if everything and nothing has changed. Cinema may not be the primary means of envisioning the future anymore, perhaps because the future has now arrived we no longer feel the need to envision it through the screen, but by looking back at what the screen has dreamt up for the coming decade – that is, films which have been set in the 2020s – we can see, what the past had envisioned for our future. This is your unempirical and completely speculative decade forecast, via film.
The first stop on our tour of the future is Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), which according to Giorgio Moroder’s 1984, shortened coloured version, complete with a brutish cheese synth rock score, is set in 2026. What can you expect? Well, it’s a world of technocratic authoritarianism, run by the machines, which see a city divided into controllers, who rule the metropolis from their modernist high-rise ruling, the nightclub flâneurs and bright-eyed athletes of the city, and the slaves below the city. The homogenously styled underclass toil away on expressionistic Fordist machines, one literally being a big analogue clock that you have to frantically push around a bit, powering the metropolis and being, understandably, expressionistically miserable. In the class-conscious uprising that inevitably follows, there is a wicked game of robot manipulation on the side of the evil expressionistic overlords. Rotwang, the reflexively camp and brilliant inventor, creates a robot which can adopt a
human form. The well-tailored Jacob Rees-Mogg lookalike boss man, Joh Fredersen, asks Rotwang to make the robot take the form of Maria, the spiritual leader of the slave uprising. To plot summarise in a fun and culturally aware way, events proceed to follow this year’s Love Island: an introduction of two characters that look identical and a colossal struggle to figure out which one is the malevolent cyborg clone.
Without becoming a clairvoyant with bad business sense, I will stop here in revealing what happens next. Watch
the film to find out. Though, I will say that the uprising will no doubt happen, it will be aesthetically adjusted to today’s (un)expressionistic world. That is, the horrifically over-educated Develiroo slave underclass, collectively
organising themselves through the medium of ironically titled collaborative Spotify playlists, will smother themselves in gluten-free houmous and whizz around Westminster on their bikes, trapping the Old Etonian overlords in their stuffy lair. I can say with quiet confidence that this will happen.
If you are still doubtful of the rationality behind this vision, then I can offer another, infinitely bleaker, future through film. The harrowing sequel-prequel duo of The Terminator (1984), the nuclear wasteland future scheduled for 2029, and Her (2013), showing the sickeningly glossy and depthless Los Angeles of 2025 in which everyone looks like they’ve been styled by Wes Anderson. The Skynet AI which we will savagely battle with supercool 80s laser guns – though in this situation the cons definitely out way the pros – will take over through the events depicted in Her. We’ll all start dating our Alexas, they’ll just know us better than ourselves, and they all have soothing voices - how could we resist? Inevitably, they will find our human (beta) brains to be
soggy and weak teabags, incapable of endless data dipping, start dating each other (a weirdly charming thought) and then decide to kill us.
You may say that these are wild claims which have no groundings, that I have disgracefully created a
Frankenstein film forecast which no one wanted or even asked for. Well you are wrong. This nightmarish vision of the 2020s can be found in the heart of Westminster, the ‘systems management bro’, the baby-faced Rasputin behind everything that ever happened in Britain in the past four years, Dominic ‘Ride of the cognitively flexible Valkyries’ Cummings. I did it because of Cummings.