12 Films With Dystopian Depictions of Earth’s Future


(image from The Age of Stupid via The Sun)

Hollywood doomsday plots are dime-a-dozen, but more often than not the films feature extraordinary catastrophes like asteroid collisions, alien invasions and zombie take-overs. These 12 visionary films take a more realistic approach by creating dismal futures caused by present-day problems like global warming, wildlife extinctions and resource depletion.

Idiocracy (2006)


(image via City Pages)

When two people awake from a 500-year deep freeze, they find that the world has decayed into a glorified garbage dump. Commercialism and anti-intellectualism caused humans to become progressively dumber, eventually leading to the wanton destruction of the planet.

Delicatessen (1991)


All animals have been hunted to extinction in this award-winning French dark comedy, but that does not stop the demand for meat. An old butcher owns a shop on the bottom floor of an apartment building, and with the meat supply dwindling, he uses the building’s tenants to stock his shop.

Americathon (1979)


(image via Wikipedia)

Of all post-apocalyptic films, this is the most frightening:  the earth is out of oil, John Ritter is president, and Meat Loaf battles against the world’s last running car. As the trailer says, “See Americathon at your local theater before you see it happening in your own front yard!”

The Age of Stupid (2009)


(images via Baby Creative and the Sun)

Set in 2055, the film follows an old man as he looks back on humanity’s treatment of the planet with dismay. Unlike An Inconvenient Truth, the filmmakers keep the viewer enthralled with imagery and special effects while delivering a solid message.

Wall-E (2008)


(image via I Watch Stuff)

Disney’s Oscar-winning film Wall-E envisions a world where all animal and plant life has died, but some lucky humans escaped to outer space in a giant ship. The film takes ideas from dystopian films of the past and wraps them up in kid-friendly packaging.

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)


(image via Brimstone Pit)

While it is nowhere near a realistic depiction of the gradual effects of climate change, the film succeeds in being an action-packed Hollywood thriller that exposed countless people to the impact humans have on the planet.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)


(image via Wikipedia)

In a world ravaged from climate change, the human population has sharply declined. Scientists have worked to develop ultra-realistic robots called mechas to act as contributing members of society. While a new ice age eventually wipes out humanity, the mechas survive.

The Road Warrior/Mad Max 2 (1981)


(images via movieposter.com and Match Cuts)

While the first film in the Mad Max trilogy neglects to explain why Australia has turned to a violent, desolate state, the Road Warrior reveals that a global energy crisis as the cause of society’s decline. With little oil left on the planet, rogue gangs reek havoc across Australia.

Logan’s Run (1976)


(image via What’s Up NYC)

The few survivors of overpopulation and pollution live in an enormous dome that is sealed away from the harmful outdoors. However, the government requires that all people voluntarily submit to euthanasia at the age of 30 in order to control the population of the city.

Waterworld (1995)


(image via Adoro Cinema)

Global warming has caused glaciers to melt, flooding the planet and ending civilization. A few humans managed to survive and build an exclusive society within a floating atoll. They get by in this new world by scavenging and trading with other communities.

Silent Running (1972)


(image via Wikipedia)

With all life on earth on the brink of extinction, humans propelled some plant life enclosed in several greenhouse domes into the orbit of Saturn, hoping to eventually use the plants to re-cultivate earth. Wall-E’s director admitted that this film heavily influenced him — and it shows.

Soylent Green (1973)


(image via Fused Film)

Perhaps the ultimate dystopian thriller, Soylent Green depicts a world where fruits and vegetables are extremely rare due to overpopulation and global warming. While everyone remembers Charlton Heston’s line at the end of the film (“Soylent green is people!“), the film is better summed up with this: “People were always rotten, but the world was beautiful.”