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To celebrate the release of THE FIRST PURGE in cinemas nationwide on July 4th, we’ve compiled a photo gallery feature exploring some of the best dystopian films in popular culture:

clockwork orange

A Clockwork Orange

Adapted from Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel, Stanley Kubrick’s violent dystopia portrays the exploits of youth Alex (a terrifying Malcolm McDowell) and his attempted rehabilitation. Very few future societies have looked so whimsical and grim at the same time, but it's this contrast that makes the film so memorable and unnerving.

blade runner

Blade Runner

The original Blade Runner may have inspired every cinematic future city that came after, but very few capture the bleakness and soullessness of their environment. Roy Batty’s (Rutger Hauer) haunting ‘tears in the rain’ speech, highlights beautifully the futility of his existence and the chaos of this new world.


The Matrix

While this film is (deservedly) remembered for its special effects and mind-blowing action sequences, the fact that the Wachowskis were able to create two frightening future worlds – the ravaged wasteland real world and the uncanny valley-esque Matrix – elevate this film to a classic.



John Hurt as Winston Smith is perfect casting portraying Winston’s content pessimism superbly and the sequence of the crowd screaming at the screen when shown images of the enemy, is a chilling example of social conformity through extreme social norms.

battle royale

Battle Royale

In this classic of modern Japanese cinema, a class of school children is selected, gassed and transported to an island where they have three days to kill each other, as part of an initiative to curb youth crime. Paranoia and brutality are in abundance here, as is an inevitable sickness that comes watching children being forced to commit grotesque acts of violence.

mad max

Mad Max: Fury Road

Released thirty years after Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, George Miller’s epic was worth the wait. Set in postapocalyptic Australia, Furiosa (Charlize Theron) attempts to transport a group of young women to a haven, with the help of drifter Max (Tom Hardy). In between some mesmerizing action scenes, we have a real sense of the disturbing commodification of people that can happen in a truly destroyed world.

wall e


While the adorable robot and his budding romance with the sleek Eve may warm our hearts, there’s no denying the world in which Wall-e resides is a dystopian one. Earth is left a trash-covered wasteland that our hero must clean, and the remaining humans reside in a space ship, carried around by hover chairs and fed a constant supply of TV and video chatting. Not completely unrealistic.



This film by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie) takes the dystopia formula in a very different direction; farce. Set in an apartment building in a future where food has become so rare it is now a form of currency, the building owner also runs a delicatessen, where his tenants must be careful not to end up on the menu.

12 monkeys

12 Monkeys

One of two fantastic dystopian films by Terry Gilliam (The other being Brazil), 12 Monkeys stars Bruce Willis as a convict who must travel back in time to find the origins of a virus that whipped out 5 billion people in 1996. The plot and time hops of this film can be disorientating, but it perfectly throws you into Gilliam’s mad-cap world.



This masterpiece of silent cinema is arguably the original dystopian film, even if its politics were very reflective of 1920s Weimar Germany. Very socialist in its subject matter, the film portrays a sharp divide between the city elite and the workers and while the film is very of its time, the image of people being fed into the machine that powers Metropolis is still just as harrowing. 



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