Dystopian movie guide

Films that question authority

The Spectrum

Spring break is the perfect opportunity to ignore all of your responsibilities and binge watch movies that bring out your inner conspiracy theorist.

From government cover-ups to genetic experiments, these films will make you question everything you thought you knew.

“V for Vendetta”(2005)

The film follows the experiences of a woman named Evey – Natalie Portman in one of her most memorable roles – as she becomes entangled in a masked vigilante’s plot to, you guessed it, carry out his vendetta. The vigilante goes by the name of V and never takes off his Guy Fawkes mask.

Written for the silver screen by the Wachowskis (“The Matrix”) and directed by James McTeigue (“The Raven”), “V for Vendetta” is an adaptation of a 1988 comic book series of the same name about the United Kingdom of the not too distant future.

The film explores themes of fascism versus anarchy and the dangers of a police state under constant surveillance through V’s character.

“Brazil” (1985)

“Brazil,” featuring Robert De Niro in a lesser-known role alongside Jonathan Pryce, highlights both the horrors and the ridiculousness that come with capitalism and bureaucracy.

The film centers on Sam Lowry (Pryce), a government paper-pusher and daydreamer, who is tasked with covering up the fact that his totalitarian yet idiotic government accidentally killed the wrong man.

When he tries to clean up the mess, he meets a woman who resembles the one from his frequent daydreams. This woman also happens to have ties to the man whose death Sam is trying to cover up. Absurdity ensues.

This cult classic directed by Terry Gillman will leave you asking yourself, “What just happened?”

“Divergent” (2014)

In post-apocalyptic Chicago, people are sorted into “factions” based on their attributes. And if someone does not fit neatly into the established system, they are considered “divergent” and labeled enemies of the state.

Tris (Shailene Woodley) is one such person. She meets a man who goes by the name of Four (Theo James) as she tries to hide her divergence.

Four and Tris team up in the first installment of this action packed series in an attempt to overthrow their oppressive government and bring justice back to Chicago.

Woodley and James had a chaotic few years as the sequels “Insurgent” (2015) and “Allegiant” (2016) were shot back to back and released consecutively.

“Divergent” has a little of everything: action, romance, an all-powerful dystopian government and suspense.

“A Clockwork Orange” (1971)

Please note that this film is not for the faint of heart.

Director Stanley Kubrick, famous for directing other horror and psychological thrillers like “The Shining” (1980), wrote and produced this book adaptation for the big screen.

Alex DeLarge, played by Malcolm McDowell, and his gang of “droogs” wreak havoc in their English town. DeLarge’s interest in classical music is matched only by his knack for ultra-violence and rape

“A Clockwork Orange” raises questions on juvenile delinquency, free will, government sanctioned aversion therapy and political agendas.

“Gattaca” (1997)

This classic just turned 20 years old but is still relevant, as it presents what could be a very near reality for the human race. “Gattaca” takes place in a sci-fi future when designer babies are not only a possibility, but are considered the norm.

Ethan Hawke is Vincent Freeman, who was conceived without the help of genetic selection and as a result, is prone to health disorders. Freeman’s parents regret their decision to have a biologically weaker child, so they have another baby with the assistance of genetic engineering.

The film, directed by Andrew Niccol, follows Freeman’s journey as he overcomes genetic discrimination and assumes the identity of a genetically superior man named Jerome Eugene Morrow (Jude Law), so that he can realize his dream of space travel.

“Gattaca” will make you question society’s values and just how far science can – or should – go.

“The Giver” (2014)

In a world where all memories of the past are kept hidden, there exists one person who acts as “the receiver of memory.” This is the only person in the community who has access to its history.

When 16-year-old Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is chosen to be the next receiver, he begins his mission of bringing enlightenment to his community.

“The Giver,” based on the novel of the same name by Lois Lowry, also stars Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges.

This adaptation is mostly in black and white to emphasize the emotional and intellectual suppression faced by this dystopian community.

When everything is chosen for you, from who your family is to what career path you will take, this movie begs the question: should people have the right to choose for themselves?

Molly Dietz is an arts staff writer and can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com