Power and control are the sought-after ingredients in the 5 best futuristic totalitarian movies. These governments believe they should control as much as possible. Doesn’t matter if it’s your media, your privacy, or your brain—they want it all and they want it now.
- “The Matrix” Trilogy At the apex of the best futuristic totalitarian movies sits “The Matrix” Trilogy. In the Matrix’s world, absolute control is exerted. People’s lives are programmed from beginning to end. Their only hope is to be contacted by the underground truth-peddler, Morpheus, or saved by that wunderkind with a Messiah complex, Neo. The catch? How do you know you need saving if you’re not already awake! This is called a conundrum. In the real world, the resistance is holed up in an underground city known as Zion, fighting the sentient machines that have enslaved the globe. The machines snuff out every perceived threat, both in the real world and in the virtual reality they have developed. So not only do they control your comatose state, but they’ll kill you for waking up. Or maybe they just really, really hate bedhead.
- “Star Wars” Trilogy The Empire rules the galaxy. The dark side of the Force is used to change people’s minds. It‘s also used to hurt and kill. The Empire obliterates a planet just because it can. The Force acts as the ultimate snitch, sensing “disturbances” that alert the evil Lord Vader to opposition in his kingdom. Sounds like a futuristic totalitarian movie, no? Luke Skywalker must fight the Empire with his own virtuous brand of the Force, risking life and limb (literally) to free the galaxy. Of the best futuristic totalitarian movies, the “Star Wars” Trilogy is by far the campiest and most lighthearted, but it’s a thrilling story nonetheless.
- “1984” The standard-bearer of futuristic totalitarian movies from the novel of the same name. Big Brother is the eye in the sky making sure you don’t engage in that silly thing called independent thought. And if you do? Why, it’s a trip to the Ministry of Love for you, mister, where you’ll be beaten within an inch of your life until you recant. Don’t get your hopes up, though. They’ll still kill you in the end. They’ll simply do it with a smile on their faces. Winston Smith defies the Party, hiding his thought crimes and his passionate love affair with another Party worker. Until he and his lover are caught and handed over to the Ministry of Love. Ends up the government was watching the whole time, they were just giving the two lovebirds enough rope to hang themselves. Or because they’re a bunch of pervs.
- “V for Vendetta” When the government overtakes all forms of communication, strips your free speech, and brands minorities as terrorists, what’s your next logical move? The only civilized way to work this out is in a court of law, right? Or…you can make their buildings go BOOM, BABY! That’s the plan of V, the mask-wearing hero of this futuristic totalitarian movie, after growing sick of the government’s iron-fisted rule. If you’ve ever gotten ticked at the taxes withheld from your paycheck, V for Vendetta will warm the anarchist in you.
- “Equilibrium” A government prohibition on emotions could be a major boon to society. No little kid temper tantrums, no cranky Post Office workers, no road rage—just smooth sailing wherever you went. Park in someone else’s space, wrap your roommate’s toothbrush in your dirty underwear, or take a dump on your neighbor’s lawn. What are they going to do about it? Sounds great, right? Except in this futuristic totalitarian movie, the government controls emotions as well as the things you enjoy that inspire those emotions: books, films, paintings, even man’s best canine friend. When the lead character, John Preston, is unable to take his daily dose of emotion blocker, he starts feeling things. Then those feelings lead to some government butts getting seriously kicked.
Honorable Mentions: "Soylent Green", "Blade Runner", "A Clockwork Orange", "Code 46", "Metropolis", "12 Monkeys", "Serenity", "THX 1138", "Logan’s Run", "Brazil", "The Handmaid’s Tale", "Harrison Bergeron", "Alphaville", and "Fahrenheit 451".