I watch too much online these days. Streaming from Amazon, Netflix, Apple TV and more, means you can spend the whole day just binge-watching rubbish. I’ve found myself reverting to watching some older movies, like those made in the 2000s.
Fifteen years. 15 years. 15yrs.
It’s a long time passing. I put on something the other day made in 2004 (Man on fire starring Denzel Washington) and during the movie there’s a fax machine receiving a document, a pager blowing someone up, a CD playing and more. There’s no smartphones, no major broadband streaming or net usage. In fact, when they do use the internet, it that old dial-up line to AOL.
Most kids these days would not remember such an experience, but then most kids these days have no idea what a dial-up means.
In fact, a lot of the signs like I’ll call you have gone away. These days it’s I’ll text you, message you, ping you or send you a pic.
Movies put these things in context. When you watch an older film and it uses technology that was of the moment then, but is old now, you wonder. You wonder why that was included the film – it ages the film; you wonder why the tech was so old then – because you live in the now; you wonder how fast the world moves on … and it does. The world moves on.
When Spielberg made Minority Report in 2002, you may have thought the movie’s idea of pre-cognition of crimes stupid, but the team collaborated with MIT and many futurists to describe the tech of the future. The main one I remember is self-driving cars, which is coming true; but then there were ads based on biometrics and voice-activated systems in the home. Think Alexa and Siri. The same was true with Star Trek. Star Trek predicted a lot of today’s technologies fifty years ago.
So, you have this mixture of movies of their time using technologies of their time, which date them; and movies of their time predicting technologies of our time, which some get right. The issues then arise of movies that get technologies of our time spectacularly wrong. Take The Terminator. Travelling through time? Robots that look like humans? Robots that can morph into different shapes? Robots that would kill us? Nah, that’s just simply stupid isn’t it?
It’s all about science fiction, with a focus on the second word. It’s all just fiction isn’t it?
Nevertheless, when you look at the mass of fiction that predicts a future world, where we travel into space on vehicles controlled by robots, you might think it could come true.
From March 2020:
Hilariously Wrong: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
To its credit, subtler innovations like tablets and video communication were predicted correctly in Stanley Kubrick’s opus. However, most of these are overshadowed by the idea of humans achieving convenient commercial space travel by the year 2001. We wonder how Kubrick must have felt by the end of his life when he saw no plans for civilian space shuttles or Lunar colonization.