Designing the future: Clarifying dystopian and post apocalyptic
“Designs of the future can be divided into utopian or dystopian in their underpinning conception. The surface design tends to fall into a limited set of styles, defined as futurism, retro futurism, realism, gothic and post apocalyptic” (BARNWELL, J., 2004: pg 100)
I have already looked at some futurism art references so I will now turn my attentions to post apocalyptic futures and what dystopian actually means in terms of society, film and literature.
When dealing with film and fiction, dystopia and post apocalyptic are usually categorised as separate types of film although some stories encompass both situations.
Dystopian:- The antithesis of utopian: figuring a nightmarish world in which rational impulses to engineer society back-fire dangerously. (KING, G., & KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000)
So looking at recent films I can start to clarify what films are classed as dystopian:-
Minority Report (2002) Picture and budget courtesy of IMDb.com :-
In a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder
Production Designer:- Alex McDowell
Director:- Steven Spielberg
Utopian:- An imaginary state of ideal harmony and perfection derived from Thomas More’s Utopia (1516). (KING, G., & KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000) For the purposes of comparison.
of or like an apocalypse
; affording a revelation or prophecy.
pertaining to the Apocalypse
or biblical book of Revelation.
predicting or presaging imminent disaster and total or universal destruction: the apocalyptic vision
of some contemporary writers.
So anything set after apocalyptic events such as large-scale environmental disasters, widespread viruses, biblical events, wars etc. Living in the after times is termed as post apocalyptic.
The Road (2009) picture and information courtesy of IMDb.com
Production Designer:- Chris Kennedy
Director:- John Hillcoat
The films and books are often categorised together as there is often a cross over of ideas, situations or causes. The same audiences or readers are drawn to both kind of stories as seen in on-line book groups such as Apocalypse Whenever
found at https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/967-apocalypse-whenever
. Both types of story are generally about forms of survival.
What I will be looking at as part of my research is the audience/social context through engaging with fans of the genre but also as a designer thinking about such questions as:- Are there differences between the two strands of dystopian and post apocalyptic stories in terms of design? Do they present the same problems in terms of budget and approach?
At first glance at the two example films above, there does seem to be quite a difference between the size of budgets. I will look at this in more detail in future research.
References:- BARNWELL, J., 2004. Production design: Architects of the Screen. London, New York: Wallflower
KING, G., & KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000. Science Fiction cinema: From Outerspace to Cyberspace. London:
Categories: Dystopian and post-apocalyptic philosophy, dystopian film and designers, post-apocalyptic film and design
Tags: Alex McDowell, Apocalypse, Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian, film design, John Hillcoat, Minority Report (film), Production designer, Steven Spielberg, The Road (film)