Since the turn of a new millennium, there seems to be an uprising in focus of many films and series on time travelling and the dark future ahead of us. It is enough to see the saga on The Hunger Games that offers the most exaggerated criticism of our current situation as well as criticism of both capitalism and socialism.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved the Hunger Games and I can’t wait November this year for the last film in the series. I loved it because of its portrayal and criticism of both capitalism and socialism. For the example, the film clearly shows socialism as a doctrine that aggressively enforces collective identity in which nobody should stand out. This is visible in grey uniforms everyone wears in District 13 that saves Katniss after she kicks off against the Capitol and shatters the Hunger Games. This district is leading rebellion against the Capitol by enforcing a system similar to socialism where everyone has a say, everyone wears grey uniforms, and they have a strong, charismatic leader that leads the rebellion against the evil Capitol. The real life examples of socialism and impossibility to stand out are largely visible in former socialist Europe with communist-built buildings that frankly did ruin all aesthetics of former nation states in an attempt to prevent any nation-specific standing out in architecture and design. The socialist systems were also built on revolution, and there was a syndrome of one charismatic leader who run the country after the success of the rebellion.
I also liked its criticism of the capitalist society based on the Big Brother culture and the fact people either stopped caring for each other enough due to desire for entertainment, or they are too afraid to protest and stand up against the regime portrayed as Capitol. This type of criticism is a typical criticism of the Left, often vocal against the Big Brother culture and the entertainment and advertising industries. Because of the growth of the Left in the EU, many countries are now enforcing more restrictions on advertising, and in countries such as the UK people are more wary of the advertising and often complain to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) about adverts they find disturbing or morally problematic.
The criticism of detaching nature of people at present is not only visible in the Hunger Games. It is enough to look at films such as The Real Steel (2011) and Purge (2013), to name only two, where the boxing apparently became boring because human reached the level of aggressiveness they can accomplish so robots took over to entertain people in the same way, but with more violence and destruction.
Purge is similar to Hunger Games in that it shows the dark nature of people who agree to purge once a year and then live under strict rules in a society freed from violence. This means that the “new founding fathers” as the film calls the regime clearly alluding to theories about upcoming New World Order, established a society freed from violence, but in an exchange once a year Americans can purge by killing and robbing whoever they want for one night without fearing prosecution. The media sensationally report on the purge night by citing statistics and even expressing excitement over a growing number of people who join the purge every year, i.e. an excitement about growing number of people willing to kill and rob their neighbours once a year without fearing prosecution.
On the other hand, many series and films portray traveling through time. This theme is related to the Back to the Future, the legendary trilogy with Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly and his adventures with Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) when they visited the year 2015, which was at the time projected as a future much different than what we know now, i.e. a future with flying vehicles, very developed empathy that enables people to move objects if we concentrate and focus, etc. This future did not happen, but we do seem to witness a year 2015 largely framed in futuristic film and television that started since the turn of a new millennium and continues until today. Another example is the series Heroes (2006-2010), which also portrayed travelling to the future and going back to the past to save the world by showing people injected with magic formula when they were babies that later gave them unusual abilities such as healing, flying, very developed empathy, etc.
In addition, a film currently playing in playhouses is The Lobster (2015) where we are following the reality of people living in The City that requires them to come to The Hotel where they have to find a romantic partner or they will be turned to animals and sent to The Woods.
However, a refreshing moment for me after all films and series with the same theme (I mentioned a few examples only, but there are much more) was a film I watched the other day, i.e. About Time, an English version of the time travelling theme.
It is not a new movie (from 2013), but it is worth commenting. Unlikely for the American versions that project the end of the world and going back through time to save it with all sorts of conflicts, bloodsheds and problems when the future is changed, this English version is much simpler and centred on love.
In this film, Tim is going back to fix his mistakes in love and to win love of the girl he fell in love with, as well as to visit his dad after he dies to “get extra time”. Here, it is not possible to travel back through time to find looking at yourselves in the past and possibly meet eye to eye. In this film, one can only go back in time to real life events one remembers, and only in regards to the life cycle, i.e. Tim was able to gain extra time with his father after his death by going back, but this was only possible before his wife gave birth to a new child. Once the new child was born, Tim can only go back to the periods after the child’s birth. In the moment when Tim’s wife is about to go to labour he runs to the closet to go back in time to see his father one more time before he says the ultimate goodbye to him. Since it is his father who taught him how to travel through time (not by using the time machine as in Back to the Future but by going to the closet and squeezing hands) the father realised based on the expression on Tim’s face that he is not playing tennis with his son from the moment but with his son from the future who came to see him from the future one more time because he died. His father looks moved and then offers Tim to travel back further one last time, and for the first and only time together.
We then see them travelling through time to a nice sunny day when small Tim and his father played on the beach. Even though their mind set is in the present and they know what they are doing, they are looking the way they looked on the day, just that the day from the past is re-lived again. Unlikely for other films where time travellers can watch themselves doing something, here we see the characters in the clothes and age of that particular day they went back to. Tim and his father, therefore, re-lived the day together, and then went back to say goodbye. The father was left in the past where Tim found him to continue playing tennis. Tim then leaves his father forever, and accepts his advice to use the time gift to see the world for its beauty and not just for stress. Tim afterwards goes through his normal daily routine full of errands and stress but then, at the end of the day, goes back in time and re-lives the same day again just this time by making the most out of it, and by being kinder to people around him to make their lives better.
Unlikely for the American versions full of blood and hunger for power and destruction, and all futuristic films that project a radical Big Brother future and the ultimate control of the upcoming new regime, this film shows that the future will not be so much different, how we should use the time travelling if we had a chance, and what truly matters in life, e.g. memories, family, and love. A true refreshment in a programme (available both on television, or on-demand). It was about time I watched something positive indeed.
Thank you for reading.