Monday, September 29, 2008


Here I will post a few clips from Fritz Lang's 1926 silent masterpiece Metropolis. One of the best and most influential films ever made, also an excellent visual example of a dystopic society.

Metropolis Opening Scenes

Apologies for lack of english subtitles in this clip. Incredibly beautiful montage illustrating the movements of the machines in lower Metropolis, followed by the workers preparing for their shift.

Metropolis - Workers' Underground City

In this clip, a character has a vision in which Lang draws a parallel between the malfunctioning machine injuring workers with ritualistic human sacrifice to a monstrous idol. The end of the clip shows the upper part of the Metropolis, which is comparable stylistically to the illustrated cover of Zamyatin's We.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dystopic Comics

Transmetropolitan is a comic book set in the future in a megalopolis with dystopic elements of style. Here are some images from the first issue to give you an idea of an artistic take on the idea of dystopia in comic book form:
This shows the protagonist prior to descending into the city; he lives alone high in the mountains. He appears radically different from how he will in the city - note the extremely overgrown hair, indicating a naturalistic lifestyle. Also notice the pristine quality of nature.

Road sign showing the proximity of the city. The wilderness is still in the frame, but the signage with pictures of credit cards accepted at the toll booth anticipates the drastic change in scenery that is about to occur.

Entering the city. Notice the overbearing signs and advertisements screaming out simplistic slogans to the populace, as well as the insidious pollution blocking out the sky.

Another view of the city - less pollution here, but high rise buildings create a sense of claustrophobia within the frame.

City life, with comments from the mind of the protagonist. Demonstrates the clash of cultures within the city.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Literary Dystopia

The etymology of the word dystopia originates from the Greek δυσ- or dys-, a prefix meaning bad or abnormal, and τόπος, or topos, meaning place. Following this, the simplest meaning of a dystopia is a "bad place." More specifically, a dystopia is a society that disintegrating under its own human weight. Dystopic fiction describes a world in a contemporary or futuristic setting with incredible problems, such as an overbearing state, pollution, disease, negative technology, and overall dehumanization. Authors, artists, and filmmakers frequently utilize the characterizing elements of a dystopia to comment upon the milieu in which they live.

The most well-known literary example of dystopic fiction would be Nineteen Eighty-Four, or 198
4, written by George Orwell in 1949. However, this genre was being developed well before Orwell's novel was published. One of the earliest and most important examples is Yevgeny Zamyatin's We from 1921. Franz Kafka published two of his most well-known works shortly thereafter, The Trial in 1925 and The Castle in 1926.

British First Edition Cover.

Early cover depicting Oceania metropolis, featuring the omniscient Big Brother posters, and a notable Anti-Sex League sash on Julia in the foreground.

Contemporary cover designed by Shepard Fairey of Obey / Giant / Propaganda graphic design empire. He incorporates his own symbols into this cover, such as the Andre the Giant face in the stars at the corners. Same exact color scheme he always uses.