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World in chaos | Predict the future? Science fiction and pessimism in cinema

The narrative tool of the dark future appears constantly in the genre

Recently, the trailer for Mundo em Chaos, a new post-apocalyptic sci-fi starring Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland, features a future where all women are gone and men are affected by a condition in which their thoughts are exhibited. As a result, this new world configuration has taken the company as it is known until the end and the protagonist lives his life in a way he has never had contact with a woman; that’s until he meets the character of Daisy Ridley and finds himself in a situation where he has to protect her.

Interestingly enough, the sci-fi genre is, for the most part, quite intrinsic to the concept of end times or great pessimism. Having said that, because in many such examples it is possible to see a scenario where humanity has been devastated by its technological achievements / or is facing such a deep social divide, in a scenario where things have so gone bad on so many levels, that the damage has become irreversible / or faces an invasion of superior alien beings.

The latter approach, in fact, has been prevalent in the genre since the late 19th century, when HG Wells’ classic War of the Worlds was released. The story in question serves as much more exercise of the imagination at a time when new technologies, especially coal machines, were emerging and the place of the traditional handyman was starting to become more blurred in this new scenario.

Alien forces threaten humanity in War of the Worlds

What HG Wells does then is treat the alien invaders infinitely more advanced than the human race as a portrayal of the rapid modernization of the times and how it is rolling over like a steamroller across the whole of the world. society. A few years later, already in the context of cinema, the film Metrópolis (1927) came to suggest another type of forecast for the future; one who, even without causing the extinction of humanity, brings with it another type of pessimism.

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Considered the first audiovisual example of the cyberpunk subgenre, Fritz Lang’s film introduced many of the features that were enshrined decades later and an important question: Is social development closely linked to the technological development of a society? ? The director’s answer is no! And this is reinforced by the script presented during the film (which in turn is an adaptation of the eponymous novel by Thea von Harbou).

In the same way that the explosion of innovations generated by the first industrial revolution of the eighteenth century, for example, did not diminish the difference between classes in European society (on the contrary, this difference deepened) in Metropolis a social model is presented where those who live on the surface benefit from all the facilities of modernity while those who live underground constantly die to support the surface.

The utopian future of Metropolis is maintained at the expense of the sacrifices of the poorest

Throughout the twentieth century, science fiction has known several phases and approaches; always corresponding to a given moment that the company was going through. One example is the Cold War and how it profoundly changed the behavior of countries at virtually every level, including culture. The arrival of Yuri Gagarin in space by the Soviet Union and a few years later the arrival of man on the moon by the United States brought about a significant change in the “pessimism” of science fiction for the future.

The stories then continued to show how amazing new technology could be, contact with alien beings no longer posed imminent danger as they did in the previous century, and even the fear of nuclear extinction seemed suspended. . Star Trek, Immediate Third Degree Contacts, and Star Wars are examples that, for the time, didn’t necessarily have to represent the end, but rather a series of endless adventures.

The point is that from the late 1970s to the early 1980s the general outlook changed. The slowdown in the global economy, an exponential increase in violence in large cities, social instability and many other elements have contributed to the return of rampant pessimism. Blade Runner is arguably the one that has captured this spirit the best, but three years earlier, Alien had already saved the figure of the cruel alien in a technologically intimidating space. In 1987, Robocop focused much more on demonstrating the interference of big business in public affairs. Around 1984, Terminator once and for all resurrected the fear of the rise of machines and the extinction of the human race thanks to atomic weapons in one package.

Blade Runner’s Los Angeles symbolizes a pessimistic future where everything went wrong

Finally, all that permeates the sci-fi genre is that when it comes to the future, there is always a line of pessimism, sometimes softened and sometimes intensified. It has been intrinsic to the genre from its roots (Frankenstein in 1823, considered the first work of science fiction, already had very little regard for the ability of humans to accept what is different) and remains until today. . It’s even easy to notice an irony in this picture: such stories feature fantastic scenarios and characters by standards of known normality, however, this dreamland is still shaped by realistic thinking of the world.

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