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20 Great Dystopian Films That Are Worth Your Time

14 October 2014 | Features, Film Lists | by Emilio Santoni


Let’s start by quickly defining what a dystopian film constitutes. The term dystopia is the antonym of utopia. Whereas utopia refers to an imagined place or state where everything is perfect, dystopia refers to a state or place where everything has gone to hell. Per their very definition, films dealing with dystopian themes are therefore at the very least speculative and almost always to some extend part of the science fiction genre. The films often deal with totalitarian societies or ones that have degraded environmentally or socially.

Dystopian movies seem to be one of the current fads in film, or at least when it comes to the teenage market. The Hunger Games proved to be a great financial success and in its wake films like Divergent and more recently The Maze Runner have managed to do great business as well. None of those movies will be found on this list though. In fact, instead of being great examples of dystopian films, they might be proof that we are indeed living in a dystopian society ourselves.

On this list, you’ll find twenty of the greatest dystopian films to have ever hit the screen. As per usual, it isn’t a be-all and end-all summary of the best dystopian films ever and the list could easily have been expanded to thirty titles but I decided to stick to twenty in an attempt to keep the selected entries of the highest calibre.

Some of the films which did not end up making the cut but were considered are Escape From New York, Robocop, Strange Days, Alphaville, Silent Running and Code 46. Anyone with a serious passion for the genre should make sure to also watch these titles as well as plenty of others. That being said, the twenty titles listed here are all fantastic examples of the best the genre has got to offer.


20. Nineteen Eighty-Four (Michael Radford, 1984)


Let’s start with perhaps the most famous title associated with dystopian totalitarian fiction, 1984. Based on the infamous novel of the same name by George Orwell, which gave birth to the term “Big Brother”, this second adaptation for the screen, which release year clearly coincided with the year of its title (the first adaptation was produced in 1956), is directed by Michael Radford and stars John Hurt and Richard Burton, in his final screen appearance.

The film is set in London in 1984, which is the capital of the territory of Airstrip One (formerly Britain), which in itself is part of the larger totalitarian state of Oceania. Winston Smith (Hurt) is a bureaucrat working for the Ministry of Truth, where his job is to constantly rewrite history according to the Party and its omnipresent leader Big Brother. Whilst free thought is forbidden and everybody is under constant surveillance, Winston keeps a diary of his private thoughts.

Worse still is the fact that he meets Julia (Suzanna Hamilton), another worker within the Ministry of Truth, and that the two start a relationship, something which is also strictly forbidden by the Party. The relationship lasts for a few months but comes to a sudden end when they are caught by the Thought Police and Winston is taken into the Ministry of Love for interrogation and rehabilitation by his former friend O’Brien (Burton) who takes him to the feared Room 101, where people are tortured by being confronted by their worst secret fears.

Staying pretty much faithful to its source material, 1984 is a very bleak and grim affair. The future is made to look especially drab, washed-out and grey, perfectly conveying the lack of humanity as well as the omnipresence of the Party. So much so, that this adaptation actually suffers a bit from its all-encompassing grim mood, making it not the easiest film to sit through.

John Hurt is fantastic as Winston Smith, whose face perfectly conveys his long mental tortured existence and Burton also does an admirable job as the face of the Party, putting in a truly frightening performance. Hurt won a Best Actor award at the Fantasporto Film Festival whilst both actors walked away with the same prize at the Valladolid Festival.


19. Battle Royale (Kinji Fukasaku, 2000)

battle royale photo

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Koushun Takami, Battle Royale is a Japanese futuristic action comedy with a healthy dose of black humour, set in a society gone mad.

As the economy has worsened and more people have lost their jobs, Japan is on the verge of chaos, especially as the country’s youth has responded by becoming more rebellious and delinquent. The government has therefore taken drastic measures and created the Millennial Reform School Act, a nationally televised game in which random high school classes are selected in their entirety and sent to a remote island to hunt each other down until only one remains standing.

The film focuses on the class of Kitano (Beat Takeshi), a twisted school teacher whose class has been selected, and Shuya Nanahara, one of the students in his class, whose father has committed suicide.

If you’re not into violent films, you might want to skip this one. Basically the Japanese exploitation version The Hunger Games (although Battle Royale came out a decade earlier), the kids here are fitted with explosive collars which decapitate them if they leave the designated playing area and an on-screen counter which keeps track of how many of the students are still alive.

But if this sounds like it might be your cup of tea, then chances are you are going to love this one with the added bonus that the film is also remarkably funny. A dark, disturbing and unique film, Battle Royale is part exploitation, part satire and 100% twisted.


18. City of Lost Children (Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro, 1995)


The second feature directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, after their debut breakthrough Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children is a dark science fiction/fantasy film starring Ron Perlman.

Krank (Daniel Emilfork) is a mad scientist who lives on an ocean rig and cannot dream. He has however devised a machine that can steal the dreams of others and in order to so, he kidnaps children from a nearby port town. But when he takes a little boy named Denree (Joseph Lucien), he hasn’t counted on his older brother, the giant One (Perlman) to come looking for him.

When One arrives at the the rig he teams up with a little orphaned girl named Miette (Judith Vittet), who is part of a guild of thieves which is completely made up of orphans. As they make their way towards Krank’s lair, they encounter a pair of Siamese twins, a talking brain in a fish bowl and a bunch of clones, all played by Jeunet regular, Dominique Pinon.

With their second feature, Jeunet and Caro created a visually distinct and inventive dystopian fantasy world with elements of steampunk (before the term was widely used and popular), freak-shows and dark fairy tales. The films production design, costumes, cinematography and boundless imagination are indeed its strongest points whilst their storytelling was critiqued by many a film critic at the time of the film’s release. The fact that Ron Perlman, who did not speak French, learned all his lines phonetically, probably didn’t add to his performance either.

The film did however almost immediately gain a cult following, which has only grown over the years due to its truly unique look and feel. The City of Lost Children was nominated for a Palme d’Or at Cannes and also received four nominations at the César Awards in France for Best Music, Cinematography, Costume Design and Production Design, only winning the last one.


17. Soylent Green (Richard Fleischer, 1973)

Soylent Green

Loosely based upon the novel Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison, Soylent Green is a 1973 science fiction film set in a dystopian future directed by Richard Fleischer.

The year is 2022 and the world is suffering from overpopulation and horrible ecological conditions due to the greenhouse effect. Food is in very short supply and most nutrition is supplied by the Soylent Corporation who have just introduced their latest food source: “Soylent Green”. In this landscape, detective Frank Thorn (Charlton Heston) is assigned to investigate the murder of a wealthy industrialist who turns out to have been on the board of the Soylent Corporation.

Together with his friend and house mate “Sol” Roth (Edward G. Robinson), he starts unravelling the case but the Governor orders the case closed when too much of an underlying conspiracy is being unearthed. Nonetheless Thorn keeps investigating and his friend Roth makes a shocking discovery about the true nature of Soylent Green.

Whilst the visuals of Soylent Green have not withstood the test of time very well, the story itself still packs a punch and is a prime example of the many 1970’s science fiction films to contain strong social commentary.

The film also marked the last role for screen legend Edward G. Robinson, who died 12 days after shooting was completed, and his euthanasia scene in the movie is even more moving as a result. Whilst Soylent Green is a bit of an uneven film, it is an absolute must-see for science fiction lovers, especially if you like your science fiction laced with powerful social themes.


16. The Trial (Orson Welles, 1962)

The Trial

Based on the novel of the same name by Franz Kafka, The Trial was adapted for the screen and directed by Orson Welles, in what is arguably the best cinematic adaptation of one of the author’s works.

Joseph K (Anthony Perkins) is woken one morning by some men, who refuse to identify themselves, and put under open arrest for a crime which goes unmentioned for the entire duration of the film. From there on in Josef K tries to seek explanations and justice in a seemingly endless and completely illogical bureaucracy.

During his travels and search for answers, he converses with his neighbour (Jeanne Moreau), a lawyer (Orson Welles), the lawyer’s mistress (Romy Schneider) and the wife of a courtroom guard (Elsa Martinelli) but all is to no avail as this whole world seems to be set up to drive one to the edge of insanity. Ultimately, Josef K is sentenced to death, without him ever knowing what it is he has actually been accused of.

Labyrinthian, maddeningly frustrating, psychologically brutal and truly Kafkaesque, The Trial’s strong points can also easily be seen as its weak points. A frustrating film to sit through, which can leave one wondering what the hell one just witnessed, this sort of seems to be the point as the viewer experiences the same frustration and despair as Josef K does.

Stunningly shot in black and white, the film’s sets and cinematography do a great job conveying its themes and Anthony Perkins is perfect as the man who doesn’t get anywhere no matter how hard he tries. Whilst the film was largely dismissed by critics at the time of its release, it did win the Critics Award for Best Film by the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics and was nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. The film later gained tremendously in status for some although others will still tell you its a style over substance head-scratcher. And whilst that may be correct, I think that’s sort of the point.


15. Twelve Monkeys (Terry Gilliam, 1995)

12 monkeys

Inspired by one of the greatest short films ever made, La Jetée by Chris Marker (which did not make this list as it was recently included in my Post-Apocalyptic one), 12 Monkeys is directed by Terry Gilliam and stars Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe and Brad Pitt. The film is part of Gilliam’s dystopian trilogy, preceded by Brazil (also mentioned on this list) and recently concluded with The Zero Theorem.

The central premise of 12 Monkeys is time travel. In a future society a plague has wiped out most of the earth’s population and those who are still alive are forced to live in underground caves as the air outside is poisonous. In this world, James Cole (Willis) is a convicted criminal, who gets the chance to be pardoned if he agrees to undertake a dangerous mission by travelling back in time to obtain a sample of the virus and find out more about a terrorist organisation called The Army of the 12 Monkeys, which was involved with the outbreak of the virus.

He is first mistakenly sent back to 1990, where he ends up in a psychiatric ward and meets Dr. Railly (Stowe) and the crazy son of a virologist named Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt). After being brought back to 2035, he is sent off again, first arriving in WWI, before finally reaching 1996, the year he was always intended to end up and where he will have find out if Goines and his organisation are behind the outbreak of the virus.

Giving Terry Gilliam the greatest commercial success of his career, 12 Monkeys is an intricately scripted time-travel flick, taking place in various times and dealing with dreams, madness and a world which has gone to pieces. Gilliam manages to get some excellent performances from his cast, with Willis putting in one of his career’s highlights and Pitt arguably proving for the first time that he was far more than just a pretty face (along with Seven, which was released the same year).

Whilst falling short when compared to its brilliant source material, 12 Monkeys is a zany and fun sci-fi flick that seems to be bursting at the seams but ultimately still manages to keep things together. The film received two Academy Award nominations, including one for Brad Pitt as Best Supporting Actor. And whilst he did not win it, he managed to take home the same prize in the same category at the Golden Globes that year.



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  • this bear is tops blooby

    Hmm, I wonder if THX1138 inspired the Manhunters design.

  • I wouldn’t put Fahrenheit 451 in that list as I thought the film was weak. Especially as it felt awkward and the visual effects were poor as it’s Francois Truffaut’s worst film.

    • Charles Barnes

      I wouldn’t put it on the list either (especially over some great films he’s listed both here and in the honourable mentions) but I still feel as though its a good film in its own right.

      Maybe not one of Truffaut’s best, but unlikely one of his worst. Maybe more middle-of-the-road.

  • Charles Barnes

    Ah, I adore dystopia 🙂 Oh, but who doesn’t?

    That being said it was almost ruined for me thanks to to Year 11 Extension English, and the subsequent over saturation of the genre I was exposed to. This was on top of having to treat a passion like schoolwork (plus listening to all those comrades ‘enlightened’ by 1984 -_-). Once that was all over though, it was no issue slipping back into a steady adoration of one of my very favourite genres.

    Nice to see love for the 1984 film 🙂 I actually prefer it to the book, which I actually hate, to a degree. I’ve personally never considered it anything more than anti-communist (or whatever have you) propaganda: a book with its message first, and its story second. I am a firm believer in the fact that any individual who reads it without knowing of how ‘cool’ and ‘hip’ it is to love and adore the book would not love it, or at not as much as they claim to. It is the biggest literary I’ve ever encountered, and one of the biggest bandwagons period. Something like Fahrenheit 451 I consider way, way more effective due to pulling off a great story whilst ingraining a thought-provoking solid message within. The film puts much more emphasis on the piece as a narrative, and is very well made to boot, with incredibly good acting.

    Good to see Soylent Green here. The twist/quote is more iconic than the film itself, but the film is still very much worth the watch.

    The Trial dystopian? Interesting, but not at all wrong. I’ve always considered Kafka to be separate from dystopia, but understand fully why you would. He did have a strong influence on the genre, especially in Brazil.

    Still need to see Minority Report :/ Need to get on to that one!

    Brazil should be higher, damn you >:(

    The Fahrenheit film is good, but I personally feel you’ve placed it too high. It isn’t a great movie as such, like some of the films its overtaken.

    Never cared for Dark City much myself :/

    Completely worthy and understandable top three, and overall, a really good list, and one that I’ll certainly read again in future (if indeed I don’t get frightened enough of these films to cease thought of the future!).

    • Giles Lewey

      These films are “safe.” A genuine dystopian film would have qualities that make you unhappy. Existenz, for example. A boy and his dog?

  • Robin Parmar

    An excellent list, although “Minority Report” and “The Matrix” are too action-oriented to be dystopian; any social commentary is accidental. A better choice would be the rather crap “V for Vendetta”.

    Any list I made would have to include “Alphaville”, “The Omega Man” (1971), “A Boy and His Dog”, “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, “The Quiet Earth”, “Idaho Transfer”, “Phase IV”, “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind”, and “Gamera: Revenge of Iris”.

    • The Super King

      The Matrix has more social commentary than any movie on that list and it’s not even close. Morpheus is the king of exposing society for what it is. His quotes are far more relevant than anything found in the other films. It’s very unfortunate that you allowed the action to distract you from all the gems that Morpheus dropped.

      • Brian Lussier

        Clearly, you didn’t get A Clockwork Orange if you think The Matrix has more social comment to it than it. I agree with much of what you say, but The Matrix doesn’t have more relevant things to say than Clockwork. That’s just plain ignorance…

        • Phil Rosenthal

          i always felt the themes explored in the matrix are much grander than the ones in clockwork orange. clockwork orange is about a society gone wrong. the matrix is about all of existence being a lie. both scenarios suck but one seems more suckier than the other to me.

      • Robin Parmar

        Or maybe I thought the “social commentary” in The Matrix to be facile and largely ripped off far superior sources.

        • Mushion

          I don’t suppose you’ve read the source material of minority report. Because it may not show it in the movie perse, but the original story was pretty on point

          • Robin Parmar

            Yes I am a huge Dick fan and have read that story, which I consider to be fun but relatively minor. In any case the film and story need to be considered on their own merits. Only two decent films have been made from his material, and one is “Barjo”, which I can reasonably assume few have seen.

          • A Scanner Darkly was well done.

        • Raymond

          You may be right about it being ripped from superior sources, but it does exist there. It’s something for the kids you know? I mean, when I watched it as a kid I wasn’t ready to read Baudrillard let me tell you. I mean I’m still not lol I struggle with understanding what he is talking about half the time. But it did kind of set up the way for me to thinking about philosophical literature and philosophy and a lot of different philosophical problems brought up with that movie (of which there are many).

          You know you need that entertaining introduction. People will see that and some will be inspired to go and look up the more difficult and complex works that inspired it. Or at least familiarize themselves with it on wikipedia or something, which, I think is still valuable. At least they know about it and acknowledge it. It’s better than if it had stayed in obscurity (which let’s face it, a lot of that stuff would if it wasn’t for the popular culture that sometimes mines it for its creative output).

          • Robin Parmar

            Yes, I understand your point if the film does actually introduce people to Baudrillard. Somehow though I think that quite unlikely for most viewers (you might be an exception!)

            Isn’t it more likely that fans of The Matrix will just go on to the next piece of entertainment, regardless of how philosophically vacuous it might be? In any case Baudrillard is far from an obscure writer and doesn’t need bad interpretations to “help” his profile.

            Popularity is no measure of quality in any case. Though I apparently risk being labelled a hipster for even suggesting the obvious!

          • Jadakiss

            No I think that is obvious. I don’t think many people are REALLY ready to admit to thinking popularity is any measure of quality. You only have to suggest what that would imply, that some pop singer or movie or book they don’t like is great (say, Justin Bieber or Transformers or 50 Shades of Grey), and they would have to walk back on that one.

            Anyway it’s a fair point you make. Personally, I think the Matrix is great at being what it is, a weird soup of science fiction, anime, 90s culture, and philosophy. And I do think it works as a kind of “insert philosophical metaphor here” type of story, a kind of template where you can come up with many different philosophical interpretations. It seems to inspire so many different ones, and that’s worth noting I think. I mean philosophers as diverse as David Chalmers, Herbert Dreyfus, and Slavoj Zizek have all read in very different philosophical problems into the movie. What other pop culture phenomenon could make that kind of claim? But, my personal fondness for the movie could be pure nostalgia, and I’m ready to admit that. I watched it at that crucial moment in childhood you know, where these lifelong relationships with pop culture franchises form. I’m not saying it’s Tarkovsky levels of philosophical and cinematic quality. I recognize it’s essentially a popcorn movie. But I think for being a popcorn movie, it manages to at least go as far as that medium could go in being philosophically interesting.

        • MysteriousRonin

          First you say “any social commentary is accidental”, and now you’re saying it has some but it’s ripped from other sources you think are superior.

          I lol’d at how little you know about what you’re talking about.

          • Robin Parmar

            You do realise that the two statements you quote are not mutually exclusive? The content could readily be accidental and facile. But I guess your emotional reaction to the fact someone likes different films from you blinds you to little things like meaning and logic.

    • Krsto Ristivojevic

      Honestly The Matrix is better and more dystopian than any of the films you mentioned, although I havent watched Idaho Transfer and the Gamera thing. Judging by the rest of them I think that only Alphaville can even compare to The Matrix masterpiece, I feel sorry for you if you got distracted by the action. Try watching Animatrix, it has a lot less action and more social commentary. Also you seem like just another spineless hipster, calling out the films most people never even heard of.

      • Robin Parmar

        You lost all credibility with the hipster comment. No need to feel so threatened just because someone has seen films you have not. Live and learn in peace.

        • mUTE

          ^ Such a hipster reply

    • John W. Thackery

      The Omega Man and A Boy and His Dog are post-apocalyptic, not dystopian.

      • Jess Overton

        You could say the same thing about Mad Max (which was hugely influenced by A Boy and His Dog anyway). I think there’s a lot of crossover between dystopian and post-apocalyptic genres, so don’t get too caught up in the labels.

    • mUTE

      Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is just childish drivel. You have lost all credibility.

    • Bill Roger

      You are an obvious bigot mate. Please explain why “Gamera: Revenge of Iris” is even considered a dystopian piece.

  • Great list, agree with all the choices and happy to say I’ve seen most of them with one or two left to see!

  • Phil Woodhammer

    Great, but I miss Ghost in the Shell

    • 김혜영

      How about Blindness, V for Vendetta or Blade runner?
      There are so many movie about distopia. But
      I think Blade runner is the best

      • tea & snark

        Blade runner is on the list….

      • Pica Lima

        n1 in the list…

  • Bitt Faulk

    I’m a huge fan of Philip K. Dick, and for that reason, I hate-hate-hate the movie adaptation of “The Minority Report”. The movie completely undercuts the entire point of the short story. It’s completely dumbed down; it merely has the pretense of being smart. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who has not yet read the story, and would encourage anyone to do so. (Try searching for “Witwer remained silent”.)

    • grootrm

      Minority Report is good enough as a movie to hold its own

  • Christina Barr

    I can’t believe Equalibrium didn’t make the list!! One of the best dystopian movies ever made!!!

    • Gorazd Rajar

      Jup, Equlibrium is definitly missing!

  • Phoebus

    Great list! One fix though, “Akira” is a film of 1988 (not 1998)

  • Hal Dunn

    Great list. City of Lost Children is one of the most visually stunning movies ever. Twelve Monkeys and Brazil are amazing. And of course, the best, Blade Runner.

  • David Nathaniel

    “one the greatest films directed by Ridley Scott, who never again returned to such heights.”

    I’d have to disagree here. You can have your opinion about Ridley Scott’s best films, but you do a disservice to films like Thelma and Louise (1991), Gladiator (2000), Blackhawk Down (2001), Matchstick Men (2003), and American Gangster (2007) when you (essentially) say that Ridley Scott peaked with Blade Runner (1982). The man has had a pretty illustrious career.

    • Brian Lussier

      He did peak with Blade Runner. Some of the other films you mentioned are pretty darn good (American Gangster in particular), but none of them qualify as masterpieces. Blade Runner does.

    • Kosta Jovanovic

      Aside from t&l and american gangster, none of the movies mentioned come even close to blade runner, his peak definitely

  • Jericho

    How could you say not a word about the great music by Vangelis in Blade Runner??????

  • gearecho

    In ‘Blade Runner’ a Golden Age is happening in outer space, while Earth is only a discarded husk of galactic expansion. As dazzling as the movie is the truly amazing things are only suggested by street advertisements and statements made by some of the characters. The terrestrial setting isn’t meant to represent the state of society in the future. It’s just where the story takes place.

  • James

    Good list, although I’d swap the watered down version of Minority Report for Equilibrium. Not half as well known, but equally as good if not better. Better in my opinion for the lack of Cruise.

    • Jess Overton

      I couldn’t even get through Equilibrium without laughing. It had great ideas, but the execution was terrible and made me cringe. Minority Report was slightly more bearable..

  • Brian Lussier

    Brazil should be much higher, and A Clockwork Orange should be #1, perhaps #2 if you really insist on making Blade Runner #1.

    • Facundo


  • DonRoberto

    The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the Margaret Atwood novel, easily earns a spot on this list, whereas some of the listed movies — Blade Runner and Minority Report, for example — present worlds that aren’t truly that much different than our own. Unless you define our present existence as a dystopia, such movies cannot honestly be described as dystopian.

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  • Ramses Alonso

    What about Robocop? I think you missed it

    • Ezzy

      Headline has 20 on it and list has 20 films. Nope, they didn’t miss it, they excluded it.

      • grootrm

        You, I like your snark

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  • SupernaturalCat

    The Quiet Earth 1985

    …and Dawn Of The Dead 1978

    • John W. Thackery

      Dawn of the Dead is post-apocalyptic.

  • Rafael Deangelo

    I’ll never got why people see Blade Runner and The Matrix as philosophical pieces… Both are plenty of action-movies clichés. (sorry my poor English)

  • Additionally:

    Starship Troopers
    Day Watch / Night Watch
    The Island
    Escape From New York
    A Boy and His Dog
    District 9
    A Scanner Darkly
    Rise of the Planet of the Apes
    Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
    28 Days Later
    Dawn of the Dead (2004)
    The Battle for Terra
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    Mulholland Drive
    American Psycho
    Strange Days
    Spirited Away
    Being John Malkovich
    Eyes Wide Shut

    • Rosie Spaceboy

      eyes wide shut and american psycho – dystopian how?

      • Rosie Spaceboy

        and mulholland drive… not dystopian. maybe Terminator 2 instead

    • quasardrake

      District 9 should be at or near the top of this list. Starship Troopers is one of only two movies I ever actually got up and walked out of – its fascistic tones were so nauseating that by twenty minutes into the film I had had it with the thing. The other movie I walked out of was David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” (over the “alien baby” scene – I was just 19 at the time). Strange Days is one of my favorite films, and has stellar performances from Ralph Fiennes and Angela Bassett – I just saw it again recently and was disturbed at how close current society has come to the depiction of it in Strange Days. It also featured one of the hottest, most erotic kisses ever put on screen (IMO). Interesting to find I was not the only person to consider that “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” had a strong dystopian undertone…

    • John W. Thackery

      A Boy and His Dog, 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead are post-apocalyptic, not dystopian.

      Planet of the Apes is post-apocalyptic but Rise of the Planet of the Apes doesn’t fall in either category since nothing had happened yet.

      District 9, Aliens, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Avatar, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Mulholland Drive, American Psycho, Being John Malkovich and Eyes Wide Shut are neither dystopian nor post-apocalyptic.

      Perhaps you should look up the definitions of dystopian and post-apocalyptic.

      • Post apocalyptic and dystopian are not mutually-exclusive. Maybe look up the definition of that one.

        And since you want to try and establish some false authority without an honest examination of the term, here it is:

        “an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.”

        That’s a wide range of possibilities. So, if you’re going to be honest… (oh hell, that’s no longer an option).

        • John W. Thackery

          Dystopia deals with the human condition in a society in the process of collapse. Post-apocalyptic deals with the human condition AFTER the collapse of society. These are very specific, jackass.

          • mUTE

            Making up your own definition of a word to make your point is pathetic.
            pol is right, you are wrong. Deal with it without acting like a bitch.

    • tocantins

      And Sleep Dealer

  • Django

    Snowpiercer is a dystopian film right?

    • Yannick T. Messias

      Yes it is ^^

    • Cristhian Caicedo

      yes, indeed.

  • Qualiarella18

    pls, join this cinema forums.

  • Dusty Grooves

    great list but where the hell is Logan’s Run? its a great, fun, sexy film with social commentary great art direction and might be one of the coolest Dystopian films of the 70s!

    • Giles Lewey

      Have you watched Logan’s Run recently? Impossible to finish sober.

  • Holy fliping Spoiler alerts, batman.

  • Isana Amed

    Soylent Green might be a faulty movie but definitely one of the scariest futures because of it’s realism. We are TOO many and population keeps growing, money is badly distributed and food is getting worse and worse to feed us all. That seems to me like a very dystopian future very possible to happen.

  • Daniel C

    I think Predestination is a good movie. Maybe not for the list but it’s great.

    • Jacob Kilgannon

      I really liked that one as well, although I’m not sure that I would necessarily call it dystopian.

  • Valentin Genev

    Favorite list!

  • Nice list and good ranking. Robocop and Dawn of the Dead are missing. Plus Equilibrium, Escape from New York, Daywatch, and Daybreakers are all worthy of this list.

    • John W. Thackery

      Dawn of the Dead is post-apocalyptic, not dystopian.

  • Daniel Koehnen

    “Blood Camp Thatcher”, “Themroc” and “La decima vittima(The 10th Victim)” belong on this list IMHO 🙂

    • Robin Parmar

      10th Victim… good choice!

  • Jeff Jordan

    Land of The Blind is worth watching too…

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  • RobynRobotron

    This should say “the Wachowski siblings” as we all know now that one of them is a woman. It doesn’t matter that the Matrix was made before she came out as trans.

    • quasardrake

      Actually, BOTH of the Wachowski siblings have now gone public about transitioning and are both “out” as trans-women.

      • RobynRobotron

        Actually, Lilly has only been out for a couple of months, so I couldn’t have known that when I wrote my previous comment. There’s also no need for a hyphen in between “trans” and “women”, a space is just fine. I am quite curious as to why you felt the need to put quotes around “out”, as the sisters are, in fact, out and openly transgender.

  • Ufuk Istanbul

    How about ‘stalker’ tarkovsky ?????

    • Robin Parmar

      Hard to know if that is dystopia or a very Russian utopia. 🙂

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  • boson

    Great write-ups. However, you got an aspect of Brazil wrong. The lady who looks like the woman of his dreams is not the man’s widow, but the widow’s upstairs neighbour, whose floor they drill through to capture the innocent man.

  • Alberto Rey Pérez

    Wall-E.. That sweet Pixar one.

    • John W. Thackery

      WALL-E is post-apocalyptic, not dystopian.

  • Sara Oh

    Zero Theorem

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Some very fine stuff here, though I think the first Mad Max offers a more compelling vision. For 80’s weirdness enthusiasts I would highly recommend Decoder and Split. Both have their flaws, some will find them hard to bear, but the former is virtually a counter culture classic and the latter a whole bunch of fun at the least

  • Jacob Kilgannon

    Equilibrium and Snow Piercer anyone? Also, when I think dystopian worlds I always think of Dredd. It doesn’t have a lot of commentary necessarily, but it’s still an awesome film set in a dystopian society.

  • Jay Dawg

    With a new Bladerunner sequel in the works, its my hope that they understand that sometimes the questions are more important than the answers … .

  • Radford’s Ninety Eighty Four should be no. 1.

  • Erika Fiore

    I miss Equilibrium here. *although it has some similarities with THX 1138, its a great movie.

    • Jacob Kilgannon

      I’m definitely a fan of that one. It definitely borrows from a few other films, but overall I found it to be really entertaining.

  • Erika Fiore

    I know this article was written two years ago, so I’ll just drop “High-Rise” here to recommend you all =)

  • εασ


    • John W. Thackery

      Her is dystopian future?

  • John W. Thackery

    Mad Max 2 is post-apocalyptic more than dystopian.

  • Daniel Spink

    Good list, I will have to check out a few of the films which I haven’t seen yet. As a fan of the dystopian genre, I would also like to add Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror series of short films, although they are often set in a very near / present day setting, they focus on the harm which technology can do to us. (Not full length films I know, but still worth a mention.) There are loads of amazing dystopian Anime shows available that I have really enjoyed. Pyscho Pass is a good one to start with, also Ergo Proxy, Attack on Titan, Shinsekai Yori, Akami Ga Kill, and of course a good percentage of the Studio Ghibli films involve some dystopian themes. Brave New World was also made into a TV series which is worth a few hours of your time, would be nice to see a decent film version of that being made.

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  • Yvonne Ritson

    Total Recall, and The Running Man??

  • Yvonne Ritson

    ooo and “The Whistler”, slightly obscure

  • ihaterobsheffield

    dude, stop using the word ‘whilst’.

  • Spirit of 1776

    Robocop is not a dystopic film..its really like that today!

  • cr0wgrrl

    Snowpiercer should be on this list. It’s brilliant.

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  • Phil Surtees

    I am so sick of people referring to the future in Blade Runner as a dystopia. There is NOTHING dystopian about it. All the people we see appear to be perfectly happy as they go about their business. There is no police state. The government isn’t suppressing people or forcing them to do anything. There’s nothing to indicate that companies have overwhelming power. They have androids to do all the dangerous work for humans! They have flying cars. People can go and live and work in outer space. In one version we see that outside the city there are trees and forests etc., so there is no reason to believe that the environment is destroyed. We do hear that animals are expensive, but we also find out that they still exist. What, exactly, do people think is dystopian about it? The fact that most of the movie takes place at night and that we see it raining? That is NOT dystopian. We see ONE factory belch some fire into the sky. That does not make the future a dystopia. People obviously don’t understand what a dystopia is because there is NOTHING dystopian about Blade Runner…

  • Dan Cole

    I am a huge Terry Gilliam fan, & love 12 MONKEYS.
    But I have to say that Brad Pitts (who I generally like) performance always felt like he was doing an imitation of Dennis Hopper in APOCALYPSE NOW

  • Alberto

    Fantastics films, i only watched a few of them, i list all of them to see in the future, thanks.

  • Raphael Bruckner

    Can’t argue with most of this list….however V for Vendetta should have been on it as well as all 3 of the Matrix Films and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy……..So I guess Taste of Cinema still needs some work.

  • Carl Edgar Consiglio

    Great list, perhaps I would add something from the Black Mirror series

    • Joe Borg

      Carl Edgar Consiglio a day ago
      Like its just about him whether he goes or not? Tal-biza how self-centred he is – takes one to know one! I had told you you are of the same kind. Int altruist hux? Kemm grejt biex tahseb ghal rasek ma tmurx ma tkunx moqdi sekonda. Self serving nobis; tisserva b’kulhadd for your own ends. And it seems you are not even aware of it? u nahseb lanqas ta madwarek. Unbelievable. Ta principju. Iva. Mur gibek toqod nieqes fil hajja ghal principji jew tirrinunzja ghal li jaqbillek.

    • Joe Borg

      and in typical fashion nippruvaw numiljaw u nbaxxu lil min ghix hajtu decenti u korrett ovjament anke mmarduhom jekk hemm bzonn; nitmejjlu bihom dawk ghax nerds, mdejjqin bihom infushom u shahar u ma nafx xiktar. mhux hekk. miskin hawn min fil medjokrita assoluta mdorri; and they do not know any better. you made me so grateful for my life believe me.

    • Joe Borg

      I never met people with such an intern hazin in my entire life. No wonder everyone was trying to protect me. Don sabih dak eh intern hazin u vendikattiv. U ghira sfrenata nahseb ghal min tarawh ferhan u mahbub min nies.

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  • grootrm

    Hillary Clinton is so out of touch with reality that she actually wrote in her book that the novel 1984 was meant to convince its readers to trust what the government tells us.

    No joke.

    The country, nay, the world, dodged a bullet in Nov