Contemporary Hollywood and the Spirit of Hope: America, Celluloid, and the Desire (mis)called (dis)Utopia
MetadataShow full item record
As a recent article on The Raw Story suggests, contemporary filmmakers are becoming more interested in utopian genres than ever before. The Summit Entertainment films Divergent and Enders Game as well as Sony PicturesThe Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, 20 Century Foxs Maze Runner, TriStar Pictures Elysium were all released in 2013 or 2014 and could be described as utopian movies. In fact, the popularity of The Hunger Games is one of the main reasons why movie studios have become interested in movies that explore utopian themes. Thus, if the past several years saw cinema interested in wizards, werewolves, and vampires popularized byHarry Potter and Twilight, this fantasy has now given way to the time of utopian movies and especially dystopias with dark images, a situation which is not limited to American cinema. Snowpiercer (2013) and Les Combattants (2013) are just two examples of recent utopian movies developed outside of Hollywood. Granted, the relationship between cinema and utopia has a long history and is not limited to the contemporary period but this is the first time that cinema has given such serious attention to a political genre like utopia, so why is this happening? What can this interest tell us about the socioeconomic structure of our time? How do these movies respond to the shortcomings of modern society? What types of alternative societies do they represent? In order to answer these questions, I analyzed six contemporary American movies. My argument throughout this work has been that cinema has been associated with entertainment, escapism, and wish fulfillment (Dyer, 1981) ever since its very earliest origins. For audiences, engagement with cinema provides an opportunity to experience a different world which shows them the possibility of something better than the world in which they live, a reality which might otherwise seem to be unassailable. Thus, cinema creates a space for envisioning alternatives and harboring hopes and desires. As I argued here, dystopia has definitely become a dominant concept in recent decades, where dystopian visions clearly dominate the scene with utopian themes neglected.