Another one for the book club. I’ve actually read this dystopian novel some years ago, but I was happy to revisit Atwood’s nightmarish yet highly imaginative envisioning of the future where messing with nature comes to a no good, very bad end for the human race.
This is not a spoiler, since the book opens in the post-apocalyptic future where the world’s population has been wiped out, and follows what could be the last human survivor who calls himself Snowman. The only other inhabitants are a mysterious new breed of humans called Children of Crake: physically flawless and beautiful, lacking sexual drive and violent impulses, unable to create art or technology, devoid of envy, anger and existential angst. Despite their reverence for Snowman, his chances of survival look pretty grim, with the dwindling supplies and no real weapon to protect himself against the genetically engineered animals now running amok (including some nasty mutant pigs you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark narrow alley).
The DVD I rented offered me a choice of the theatrical cut, and the alternative version with the original ending that was scrapped after it was unfavourably received at the test screenings. While I really enjoyed the movie this story of two radically different endings is probably its most interesting aspect. The DVD menu made me feel like a character in a fairytale: shall I take the road on the left, or the road on the right? With the magic of the remote, I watched both endings, and once again marvelled at Hollywood’s willingness to ruin a perfectly fine film.
The Lobster made me think of Ray Bradbury’s sci-fi short stories I read as a teenager, where some “what if” premise would be taken to an absurd extreme, except that this movie does it with an extra helping of bonkers. If you’re a fan of out-there scenarios, the summary should grab you instantly. Here goes: in the dystopian world of The Lobster, it’s illegal to be single. If you’re divorced, widowed or just unattached, you get sent to a high-security hotel in the countryside, where you have 45 days to find a new partner among the fellow singles. Those who fail to pair up are then turned into an animal of their choice and remain that way for the rest of their lives. David (Colin Farrell), the main hero of the film, tells the manager of the hotel that he’d like to cast his lot with the crustaceans, and be turned into a lobster. Lobsters, he says, can live for hundred years, and he quite enjoys swimming.
A bonkers trip into the warped and wonderful mind of Terry Gilliam that has nothing to do with a soccer-loving country in South America, and more to do with 1984, George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece. It’s also set at around Christmas, so I think I’ll be happy to think of it as an alternative Christmas movie a la Die Hard.
I love me a good dystopia and I enjoyed this futuristic satire despite the slightly jarring shifts in tone, especially towards the end when it seemingly abandons all restraint and dives into (still very entertaining) surreal silliness.
This movie was like a big glaring gap in my film experience, which is almost embarrassing considering that I’m a huge fan of both science fiction and Ridley Scott. I watched it once almost 20 years ago, when my English was still rather shaky, so most of the dialogue and story details sailed right over my head. Though I couldn’t tell you what actually happened in the movie, it’s amazing how much of its imagery remained in my head just from that one watch: Daryl Hannah’s shock of blond hair and black spray-on paint around her eyes, Sean Young’s 40s-inspired hair, cigarette and that fabulous black power suit, and Rutger Hauer’s striking, blond, beautiful Roy Batty, whose face looks like it could have come from some epic blood-soaked Norse myth.
This dystopian parable had one of the nuttiest premises I’ve seen in a movie. In the not-so-distant future, the entire planet is frozen solid after the attempt to solve the problem of global warming goes spectacularly wrong. All life is wiped out, and what remains of the human race is gathered on a single train, which is powered by an eternal engine and whose rail network spans the entire globe, so it takes the train one year to complete the full circle. The train is the world, and as throughout the human history its population is split into haves and have-nots. The former reside in the front of the train where they spend their days in pampered luxury, while the denizens of the back section live in misery and squalor on a diet of protein bars which look like disgusting black jelly (and yes you do get to find out what they’re made from). At the very front are the quarters of Wilford, the mysterious owner/designer of the train, who is never seen to leave the engine room and who has cronies and armed forces maintaining the order in the back, including some inventive punishments involving cold temperatures. Despite that, the train had seen a few (failed) revolutions and as the movie opens we’re at the start of another attempt, spearheaded by Curtis (Chris Evans), who is something of a reluctant leader.