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Dystopia Theme in 21st Century Movies

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 All works of art are reflections of what human beings experience. A popular form of depiction of art in the 21st century is through films. There have been thousands of movies made over the course of history. However, one theme stands out from the rest when it comes to film: dystopia. Over the past decade, post-apocalyptic films have been rising in popularity among viewers. There were approximately 59 apocalyptic movies made from 1980 to 1999. That is, over a period of 20 years. However, from 2000 to 2013, over 90 apocalyptic movies were released (Harmonic, 2017). In contrast, this is a period of only 13 years. This paper seeks to show why filmmakers have been increasingly exploiting post-apocalyptic themes in their works. In order to do that, it must first be recognized that filmmaking is an industry that produces only what the audience wants. Thus, to understand why filmmakers emulate dystopian themes, the audience should be analyzed. The following paragraphs show why audiences have been steadily demanding for more post-apocalyptic films.

Films with dystopian themes are popular among viewers because viewers believe that the ultimate end of civilization and human extinction is inevitable (Finke, 2014). This mentality is popular in the world today due to the myriad of problems that humans face. Some of these problems have no solutions while others are merely consequences of scenarios that have been avoided by society as a whole. Examples of these problems include world hunger, adverse climate change and the possibility of an epidemic. On the other hand, the scenarios that society has been avoiding include artificial intelligence that surpasses the human mind, genetic design and modification of humans, and so forth. All these themes have been featured in films such as Geostorm, 12 Monkeys, Terminator and many more.

In connection to believing that the end of the world is inevitable, viewers enjoy post-apocalyptic films because they reflect society’s hope of survival in the face of possible dystopian events (Finke, 2014). In most post-apocalyptic films, humanity never gives up. It is this show of humanity’s resilience and refusal to give up that attracts many viewers. Over the course of history, humanity has gone through several events that almost led to the end of civilization. These include the first and the second world wars, the black plague of Europe and the numerous terrorist attacks around the globe. Although there were casualties during all these events, the world survived in the end. It is this hope that viewers like to be reminded of when they watch post-apocalyptic films.

Apart from offering hope, viewers like post-apocalyptic films because of the challenges they represent (Scientific American, 2010). Many people view an apocalypse as the resetting of the world. For example, in the television series Revolution, an apocalyptic even sends the world into a state where all common amenities such as running water, medication and electricity are unavailable. It is in these circumstances that viewers picture themselves while wondering whether they would survive. The opportunity to speculate and passively participate in such an environment is what draws viewers to post-apocalyptic films.

From the paragraphs above, it is evident that post-apocalyptic films are more popular today than they were 30 years ago because of the increase in situations that might cause the end of the world. By using films as a reflection of the society, filmmakers have made the society realize that an apocalypse is a real concern in the world today. This is what makes filmmakers exploit this theme more as compared to other themes such as romance, political dramas and so forth. 

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Dystopia Theme In 21st Century Movies. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 16, 2022, from
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