Dystopian Utopia – Movie Research (part 1A)

I’ve spent the majority of the afternoon looking into movie inspiration for our Dystopian Utopia project assign by Tony prior to the term break. I actually absolutely love these sorts of movies anyways and we have copies of most of these on hand at any given moment. I’m fairly sure Marc could quote Blade Runner verbatim and at this point I probably could, too! In any case, here are a few movies (along with some reference shots) that I think will provide excellent ideas for when it comes time to draw my 20+ thumbnail ideas.

Blade Runner

There are quite a few vehicle designs in this movie. Syd Mead’s designs come to life and it just goes to show why he’s considered one of the most successful futuristic vehicle designers. There are many kinds of looks in this movie, ranging from the cabs to the police cars/Spinners. I love the look of the whole movie, being a cyperpunk cult classic.

Mad Max (all of them)

I’ll start with the older films, since Fury Road has its place at the top of my list and outstrips the old films, in my opinion. However, the older films aren’t without their fair share of unique vehicle designs. Outside of the usual cars-with-additions, such as the Interceptors, there are some… odd-ball creations as well. I think the cow car is absolutely hilarious and just shows the insanity behind the later movies after the first one. There is a very mish-mash feel to the vehicles in Mad Max; the population cobble together what they can with whatever they find. I think this just reinforces what we did in class, where we took the vehicle silhouettes to try and fit together a few different vehicles.

Meanwhile, Fury Road just felt like it was on a whole other level. There were so many brilliant design decisions that the vehicles felt like characters in their own right. The War Rig may have looked menacing, but it certainly had a purpose – all of the cars did, in their own way. They had to survive the wastelands or protect the lead vehicles. Sometimes there were just bits bolted on for the heck of it, but I feel like in a world where water was a precious resource, something like the War Rig would be indispensable to anyone around (much like in the movie!).

Total Recall (both versions)

I think the older version of the movie (from 1990) had more unique vehicles that could actually serve as better inspiration for futuristic service designs. They were more angular and rough – the newer movie went for more rounded and sleeker type of vehicles. I suppose it just depends on the kind of dystopian future I want to explore with my vehicle designs, so I’ll be able to try different looks that contrast one another, as seen in the stills above from both movies.

I Robot

When I think of this movie, I think of a shiny and sleek exterior, but a dirty and grotty world underneath. Things seem like they’re perfect (a utopia), but underneath there is a lot of unhappiness, unfairness, and uncertainty (a dystopia). There aren’t that many vehicles to draw inspiration from, outside of the self-driving cars and the robot transportation freights. However, what I like is idea that a robot or AI-driven machine could rebel against is purpose is menacing in its own right. I could just imagine that a street sweeper starts mowing down pedestrians or driverless taxis start chucking out passengers while pelting down the highway.

Tron: Legacy

It’s debatable when this fits into the category of “future” since the story takes place inside the virtual world, but I certainly think that’s its a dystopian society; Clu is clearly a totalitarian leader inside the computer system. In any case, there are some very interesting vehicle designs in this movie – obviously a lot of them were inspired by the original Tron movie, which were also Syd Mead’s designs. The solar sailer is absolutely brilliant, being that it’s the epitome of a functional vehicle (transporting things from one end of the system to the other) but there’s no mistaking that it’s not from a world like ours. I also love the Recognizer (the arch-way like military monitoring vehicle), purely for its looks over anything else.

Other Sources of Inspiration

There are so many movies out there that I’ll be referencing for this project, but rather than drone on about each one of them, I’ll collect them into one final section to show how many unique vehicle designs are out there. So many of them are based off of real world vehicles, which makes the next part of this project a little easier: I’ll be coming up with 20 (or more) individual thumbnails that can be group critiqued and where I’ll be able to choose one idea to further develop into a final version.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The movies included in the above slideshow:

  • Aliens
  • Death Race
  • Demolition Man
  • Dredd (2012)
  • Elysium
  • Equilibrium
  • Fifth Element
  • Firefly/Serenity
  • Idiocracy
  • Judge Dredd
  • Hunger Games: Mockingjay
  • Running Man
  • Terminator: Salvation
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