Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dystopia, the Postmodern Genre?

"The Matrix" is one of the best films of its type, but not the first and last one worth watching. The origin and thread of dark, dystopian, heavily philosophical films lies in adaptations of Philip K. Dick stories like "Blade Runner" and "Total Recall." These stories explore the nature of reality and how perceptions are hard to trust. In the late nineties, several epistemological movies emerged: a couple of loose Dick adaptations in "Abre Tus Ojos" (Later remade as "Vanilla Sky") and 1998’s best film according to some—"Dark City," and others like "The Game," "Contact," "The Truman Show," and "Pleasantville" just to name a few.
"Dark City" came out a year before "The Matrix," was filmed in the same studio, carries many of the same themes, and even has a lot of parallels. The basic idea is that a group of humans are trapped in a city where it is never day, and every night the city is changed around. The people’s memories are altered and they are observed in varying situations in an effort to discover what the Human soul is.
(One of the scenes that makes the movie is where a poor couple is shown eating dinner as the change begins to occur. They pass out and, as their house changes into a mansion, they are dressed as rich people and their memories are altered. As the change is completed they resume their meal and conversation under completely new circumstances.)
The key to these “postmodern” stories of fake realities (and our world as well), is that there is always a truth behind the fiction. While perceptions are sometimes not trustworthy, there is a reality that can be known. The key to success in life is recognizing the Truth and accepting it even when it is hard to see.

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