Have you ever wondered what your life would be like without electricity? You press the switch, and nothing happens. The cinema has imagined this on countless occasions and has left us with a bunch of films that portray a reality much worse than the one we know.
Imagining the future, or a totally different present, is a recurring theme among writers and film-makers. Catastrophes and apocalypses have provided varied, original visions of things to come.
They imagine new civilisations that tackle the challenges of a dystopia where electricity doesn´t exist. The thing is, if the world goes belly-up, electricity will go with it. Just think about it: no mobile phone, no air con, no computer… and no Netflix!
At endesaclientes we’ve wondered what the world would be like without electricity, and in our search we’ve chosen a few titles. Have you got your popcorn ready?
1. Revolution (2012)
A bad start. We said films, and we’ve started with a series. But there is some logic to it, as it focuses on the dependence on electricity of our society, something we don’t seem to be totally aware of.
The series was produced by J.J. Abrams and places the spectator in a post-apocalyptic future where an unknown phenomenon renders electric devices useless. This gives rise to a story centred on the Matheson family, who seem to have privileged information to decipher what has happened.
2. Into the Forest (2015)
Written and directed by Patricia Rozema and based on a novel by Jean Hegland, this film shows the fight for survival of two teenage girls in a world that from one day to the next has no electricity.
The central characters lead an isolated life with their father in the forests of North Carolina. Little by little, they get over their initial frustration thanks to their father’s skills, and manage to get sufficiently organised to do the cooking and washing. But the problems get worse and they have to depend on themselves in order to survive.
3. Waterworld (1995)
Who doesn’t remember Kevin Costner’s gills? This enormous fiasco almost finished the career of the Californian actor. The planet has become an immense ocean after the melting of the polar ice-caps. Here the only energy that exists is in the arms of the few survivors.
Everything changes when a bad-tempered anti-hero rescues a woman and her daughter, who has a map tattooed on her back that might lead to dry land.
4. The Postman (1997)
Not content with playing the lead in the above disaster, Kevin Costner decided to continue with his apocalyptic adventures in this sort of futuristic western. A brutal war has devastated civilisation and now the world is a desert.
Costner impersonates a postman of the new, revived United States government. The film earned 5 Razzie awards, including worst movie, worst director and worst actor. A real hat-trick for poor old Kevin. He should never have stopped dancing with wolves.
5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
We now move to more recent films, with the second part of the new “Planet of the Apes” trilogy. Humanity has been overwhelmed by a virus and the survivors try to reach a dam so as to supply their homes with electricity. But to get there they have to cross the territory of a community of apes.
The dam, and ultimately electricity, is the trigger that sparks off the war between the two sides. And that, my dear friends, is how humanity is overcome and replaced by monkeys. Knowing this, I think you won’t complain the next time your fuses blow.
6. Mad Max (1979)
A cult film if ever there was one. This Australian production suggests a world where Mel Gibson is a policeman assigned to breathe a little peace into a society that is crumbling. Gangs of bikers have taken over the roads and petrol is a scarce commodity.
But between the dust and the suffocating harassment of the bandits, Mad Max appears. A solitary anti-hero encased in leather (in spite of the heat) who, at the wheel of his V8, imposes his new law. In this world, only the toughest survive. And none as tough as Gibson.
7. The Road (2009)
Viggo Mortensen leads this adaptation of the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Fiction Prize. An indeterminate cataclysm has destroyed civilisation and has annihilated all animal and plant life. A father and his son struggle through this hell of ashes, on a pilgrimage toward a safe place.
In this way, the last good man on Earth does everything he possibly can to protect the purity and goodness of his son. The film reflects a highly pessimistic view of the cruelty of the human being. A real downer.
8. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
A touch of colour couldn’t be missing in this ranking. And nobody better at it than the Ghibli Studios. Hayao Miyazaki, the creator of works such as “Princess Mononoke” or “Spirited Away”, made Nausicaä in 1984. It was his first big production and into it he poured his feelings against war and pollution, as well as his passion for aeronautics.
The story offers a view of a divided world that survives at the edge of gigantic forests plagued with poisonous fungi and monstrous insects. The heroine attempts to understand the cycle followed by the Earth while she tries to save her little kingdom from the greed of its neighbours.
9. I Am Legend (2007)
This novel by Richard Matheson has been made into a film three times: “The Last Man on Earth” (1964), “The Omega Man” (1971) and “I Am Legend” (2007).
This last may be the best known because its main character is played by none other than Will Smith who, after spending his teenage years in Bel-Air, becomes the last human being in New York. And possibly in the whole world! A strange virus has mutated every living soul and converts them into a sort of vampire.
10. Lord of the flies (1963 and 1990)
Another classic novel taken to the big screen. Its title refers to human evil, represented by the Devil. Its author, Nobel Literature Prize-winner William Golding, sought to represent a society featuring children that would represent an allegory against barbarism and Man’s basic instincts.
Its plot was made into a film in 1963 and again in 1990, showing how a group of castaway boys reach a desert island. In a world with no parents, rules or obligations, the boys treat the first few days as an adventure. But the passage of time gradually makes them try to get organised and create a small community.
The dystopia of a world without electricity is a recurring theme in sci-fi films.