Dystopian fiction is the opposite of Utopian: creation of a nightmare world, sometimes also described as "the victory of forces of reason over forces of kindness". These tales are designed to make the viewer ask the bleak question "Is life worth living if this is where humanity is going?" Often this subgenre depicts inquisitive heroes breaking free of a bottled utopia. In most such tales, the protagonist seeks to better his-or-her own life, if not to liberate the entire society.
Fahrenheit 451 - 1966
In the future, a totalitarian government employs a force known as Firemen to seek out and destroy all literature, permitting them to search anyone, anywhere, at any time. One of the Firemen, Guy Montag, meets one of his neighbors, Clarisse, a 20-year-old schoolteacher whose job is hanging by a thread due to her unorthodox views. The two have a discussion about his job, where she asks if he ever reads the books he burns. Curious, he begins to hide books in his house and read them, starting with Charles Dickens' David Copperfield.
This leads to conflict with his wife, Linda, who is more concerned with being popular enough to be a member of The Family, an interactive television program that refers to its viewers as "cousins". At the house of a book collector, the captain talks with Montag at length about how books change people and make them want to be better than others, which is considered anti-social.
The book collector, a middle-aged woman who was seen with Clarisse a few times during Montag's rides to and from work, refuses to leave her house, opting instead to burn herself and the house so she can die with her books. Returning home that day, Montag tries to tell Linda and her friends about the woman who martyred herself in the name of books and confronts them about knowing nothing about what's going on in the world, calling them "zombies" and telling them they're just "killing time" instead of living life.
Disturbed over Montag's behavior, Linda's friends try to leave but Montag stops them, by forcing them to sit and listen to a novel passage. During the reading, one of Linda's friends breaks down crying, aware of the feelings she repressed over the years, while Linda's other friends leave in disgust over Montag's alleged cruelty and the "sick" content of the novel. That night, Montag dreams of Clarisse as the book collector who killed herself.
1984 - 1984
In a dystopian 1984, Winston Smith endures a squalid existence in the totalitarian superstate of Oceania under the constant surveillance of the Thought Police. The story takes place in London, the capital city of the territory of Airstrip One (formerly "either England or Britain"). Winston works in a small office cubicle at the Ministry of Truth, rewriting history in accordance with the dictates of the Party and its supreme figurehead, Big Brother.
A man haunted by painful memories and restless desires, Winston is an everyman who keeps a secret diary of his private thoughts, thus creating evidence of his thoughtcrime. His life takes a fatal turn when he is accosted by a fellow Outer Party worker ï¿½ a mysterious, bold-looking girl named Julia ï¿½ and they begin an illicit affair. Their first meeting takes place in the remote countryside where they exchange subversive ideas before having sex.
Shortly after, Winston rents a room above a pawn shop (in the supposedly safe proletarian area) where they continue their liaison. Julia ï¿½ a sensual, free-spirited young woman ï¿½ procures contraband food and clothing on the black market, and for a brief few months they secretly meet and enjoy an idyllic life of relative freedom and contentment together. It comes to an end one evening, with the sudden raid of the Thought Police.
They are both arrested and it's revealed that there is a telescreen hidden behind a picture on the wall in their room, and that the proprietor of the pawn shop, Mr. Charrington, is a covert agent of the Thought Police. Winston and Julia are taken away to be detained, questioned and brutally "rehabilitated" separately. Winston is brought to the Ministry of Love, where O'Brien, a high-ranking member of the Inner Party whom Winston had previously believed to be a fellow thought criminal and agent of the resistance movement.
In Time - 2011
In 2169, people are born genetically engineered with a digital clock on their forearm. When they turn 25 years old, they stop aging and their clock begins counting down from one year; when it reaches zero that person "times out" and dies. Time has become the universal currency; it is used to pay for day-to-day expenses and can be transferred between people or capsules. The country has been divided into "time zones" based on the wealth of the population.
The movie focuses on two specific zones: Dayton - a poor manufacturing area where people generally have 24 hours or less on their clock at any given time - and New Greenwich - the wealthiest time zone, where people have enough time on their clock to live for centuries. Will Salas is a Dayton factory worker who lives with his mother Rachel. One night at a local bar, he saves the drunken and suicidal Henry Hamilton from an attempted robbery by local thief Fortis and his gang.
Hamilton, who is 105 years old, reveals to Will that the truth about time wealth is that there is plenty of time for everyone to live a long life. The people of New Greenwich hoard most of the time for themselves in order to live forever, while constantly increasing the cost of living in poorer districts to keep people dying. Hamilton gives a sleeping Will 116 years of his time, leaving himself with 5 minutes. He then sits on a nearby bridge and times out, falling dead into the water.
Will awakens to a message from Hamilton not to waste the time he was given, and rushes to the bridge too late to stop the suicide. Raymond Leon, leader of the police-like Timekeepers, leads the investigation into Hamilton's death, and incorrectly assumes that Will robbed and killed Hamilton. Will visits his best friend Borel and shares ten years with him, one for each year they have been friends. Will tells Borel that he is going to use the time to move with his mom to New Greenwich.
The Hunger Games - 2012
The dystopian nation of Panem consists of a wealthy, glamorous Capitol, ruled by President Snow, ruling twelve poorer districts. As punishment for a past rebellion and as a way to demoralize the districts to quell social uprising, each district must provide two "tributes"ï¿½one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 selected by lottery (the "Reaping")ï¿½every year to compete in the televised Hunger Games; they must fight to the death in a vast arena, with the sole survivor rewarded with fame and wealth.
In District 12, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to be the female Tribute when her younger sister Primrose is initially drawn. She and the male Tribute Peeta Mellark, a boy her age from the same district, are escorted to the Capitol by chaperone Effie Trinket and their mentor Haymitch Abernathy, a past District 12 victor and severe alcoholic. Haymitch impresses on them the importance of gaining sponsors as they can provide gifts of food and supplies during the Games.
During part of a series of interviews, Peeta publicly expresses his love for Katniss, which she initially takes as trying to earn sponsors' favor, but later learns his love is earnest. While training, Katniss observes the Career Tributes Marvel, Glimmer, Cato, and Clove, from Districts 1 and 2, who have been illegally training for the Games since a young age and have more chances to win. Meanwhile President Snow, worried that the popularity Katniss is courting may escalate, orders gamemaster Seneca Crane to ensure she does not advance far.
At the start of the games, Katniss ignores Haymitch's advice and tries to acquire supplies from the Cornucopia, the central point of the arena full of useful items, and narrowly avoids being killed; nearly half the Tributes are killed in the initial melee. Katniss tries to stay as far away from the other competitors but Crane directs his agents to trigger events on the field to force her back towards the others. She runs into the Careers, with whom Peeta has allied, and escapes up a tree and finds Rue.