Most of the visions of the future from old movies have not completely come to be. Flying cars are still a sci-fi dream, and no one has set foot on a distant planet, let alone colonized it. It's fun to dream, though, and even more fun to revisit retro visions of what people thought was just ahead. Here are 15 future movies we've passed in time.
Now that the future has passed in these movies, it’s interesting to see which aspects came to fruition. Perhaps computers do not have the capability to be self-aware and murderous like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, yet consumers are more dependent now on their personal technology than ever. Just ask the table of people eating dinner out at a restaurant who can’t stop checking their phones. Or any driver that still needs to use their GPS systems to find a location that they’ve been to a dozen times.
But for every movie that got the future wrong, there are a few that guessed some things right. Imagine the dystopian Big Brother-type world predicted in the science fiction film 1984. Even though humans do not live in a society where free thought is banned and falling in love is a crime, one can’t argue that government security and surveillance doesn't heavily exist in everyday life.
Check out both the hilarious futures from old movies and the ones that came pretty close to getting the future right. Then share some of your favorite future movies whose times we passed in the comments section below.
The Film: A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Takes Place: 1995
The Futuristic Vision: A Clockwork Orange was adapted from Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel of the same name. Stanley Kubrick's British dystopian crime movie follows Alex (Malcolm McDowell), a young sociopath convicted of rape and murder. While he is in prison, in order to get his sentence reduced, Alex volunteers to participate in an experimental program using the Ludavico Technique. The goal of the aversion therapy is to change Alex's violent behavior by using his favorite classical music and juxtaposing it with horrifying imagery.
Prediction Accuracy: Aversion therapy is a psychiatric tool used with varied results. The film also centers on the issues of youth and the problems with extreme rioting, which is certainly prevalent today, though perhaps not to the degree shown in the film.
Time Travel Is Just Another Job
The Film: Timecop (1994)
Takes Place: 2004
The Futuristic Vision: Timecop exists in a world where self-driving cars and time travel represent the norm. Because time travel is so prevalent, an agency called Time Enforcement Commission (TEC) is established to regulate time travel so it's not used illegally to alter future events. Max (Jean-Claude van Damme) works as a Time Cop and must stop a crooked politician who changes the past in order to control his future.
The Film: RoboCop (1987)
Takes Place: Not definitively stated, but probably in the 1990s
The Futuristic Vision: Police officer Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is killed by a gang while out on patrol in crime-ridden Detroit. He is selected to be a prototype for the corporate-run RoboCop program, where most of his body is replaced with cybernetics but not his brain. The cyborg cop is successful in cleaning up a majority of the city's crime but faces an uphill battle against corporate greed.
Prediction Accuracy: Science hasn't created a robot cop that can single-handedly clean up a crime-infested city. However, Detroit is currently overrun with crime with little relief in sight. Additionally corporate greed, especially following the events of the housing market crash and subsequent bank bailouts, continues to be a major issue.
The Film: Death Race 2000 (1975)
Takes Place: 2000
The Futuristic Vision: It's the year 2000 and the United States has become a totalitarian state. In the dystopian future of this cult classic – starring David Carradine as Frankenstein and Sylvester Stallone as Machine Gun Joe Viterbo – contestants participate in a death race across the country. Along the way, contestants are awarded points for running down pedestrians. Just like the name implies, the last man alive wins the race.
Prediction Accuracy: There are no races to the death in modern society. However, the film shows these death races as a form of public entertainment. Today reality television rules the airwaves, and while there isn't brutal murder on shows like Survivor or The Amazing Race, they are very much a hungrily-consumed spectacle where contestants behave in a "do or die" manner.