Things I have learned about the future from films…

Returning readers may have noticed by now that I’m a big fan of self-explanatory titles…

Anyway… I went to see the new Total Recall re-make last night, and despite the many reviews to the contrary, really enjoyed it. I haven’t seen the original so I wasn’t precious about it, and frankly, Colin Farrell wins hands-down acting wise (and looks-wise) over Arnie any day.

Some of the detractors have moaned about how the world seems to have been created using a “generic futuristic dystopia” template, and whilst I can see what they mean, it got me thinking as to what else I could maybe infer about the future as filtered through the oracle of film.

(Disclaimer: I’m sure there are many more futuristic films out there than I’ll reference here – if you think there are any I should see please get in touch!)

1. Machines/technology/science will rise up and take over – see Terminator, Battlestar Galactica (TV Series I know), I, Robot, Blade Runner, even Minority Report I suppose

2. Don’t be so naive as to hope for a utopia – the future is going to be grim – see Total Recall, Equilibrium, 1984, The Matrix, Minority Report, Dark City, Blade Runner, In Time, Dredd (this is just an assumption from first looks and impressions received from the trailer)

3. It will also rain a lot – see Total Recall, Minority Report, Equilibrium, Blade Runner

4. Concrete and neon will be the archetecture of choice – In Time, Equilibrium

5. Industrial/rave clothing/lifestyles will become the norm – The Matrix, Dredd (see earlier note), Equilibrium

6. All of the whizzy gadgets and cool, super-advanced technology in the world doesn’t change the problems that people face – see every single film set in the future

 

Dreams

I had a brilliant dream last night. I always enjoy dreaming, they’re rarely about me or any aspect of my life, it’s more like getting to watch a film in my head while asleep. I’m often aware that i’m dreaming, and sometimes can steer it in the way i want it to go, particularly if i’ve had the dream before.

Just recently there’s been a lot of uncertainty about my job, which has lead to lots of horrible work-related dreams where everything goes wrong and it’s generally a relief to wake up.

Last night, i dreamed i was walking home from work – nothing like in real life but i knew it was my usual route home. On this particular trip i saw loads of new things that i’d never noticed before, new places to explore, new people to meet, new opportunities. My route took me across a beach into the sunset, and everything was so beautiful and full of possibility that i felt as though i was about to burst with happiness, to float away on the sheer joy that was filling me. That feeling remained, even as i woke up.

I don’t know anything about dream interpretation, but this one left me with such hope. It seemed to say that even though things are normal and mundane, there’s always something more, something special to be found, if you just look in the right way.

I tend towards the opinion that dreams can sometimes be more than nightly entertainment. Whilst not wishing to commit to the thought that they’re messages from something higher, perhaps sometimes they’re messages from ourselves, helping us to see what gets lost amidst the noise and bustle of waking life.

Man’s Inhumanity to Man

There’s a sign as you enter the Holocaust Exhibition in the Imperial War Museum in London, “not suitable for children under 14″ and as my Mum mentioned, it’s depressing when you’re considered old/mature enough to delve into the sheer inhumanity of what people do to other people.

Of course the Holocaust isn’t the only example of such horrors, but time hasn’t lessened the shadow it casts, and nor should it. Everyone should go to this exhibition, or one of the many others like it, to know in their hearts and bones as well as academically why it was so awful.

Walking round, the photos, quotes and various interpretations slowly hammer home the truths of what people did to others because of elitist ideals and the power to carry out acts which should never have been spoken aloud, let alone put into practice. I’m usually pretty good at putting myself into other people’s shoes, empathising and understanding, but here the understanding didn’t come. Probably couldn’t come – the scale of suffering and horrors dealt out to ordinary people because they didn’t fit one man’s staggeringly arrogant and just plain wrong plans was so beyond anything I’ve experienced of life that it didn’t compute. The actual footage, of people being shot, and of the clean-up of the camps at the end of the war was harrowing and undeniably real. I fully understood why halfway round there was a “quick exit” route  for those for whom it was all a bit much. It was all a bit much.

I stayed to the end of the exhibition, and as I mentioned before I think everyone should just once. But I wouldn’t want to go again. I will remember.

Gigs

Standing in the pit – one cell in the body of the crowd-beast – surrounded by people singing the same words as you and being shaken by the same bass as you.

I love going to gigs – live music is almost without fail one hundred times better than the same track on a cd or an mp3 player. For me, as well as the obvious in-the-fleshness of the music and the band, being in the depths of a like minded crowd is something you can’t beat. Of course you get the odd idiot, but I’ve been lucky and only seen them from afar.

As I write this I’ve just got in from a Frank Turner gig. Without wanting to brag I’ve been to a fair few gigs over the years, in various sizes of venue from bar to arena to festival and everything inbetween. Frank Turner’s shows are among the best. And it’s the crowd – several thousand people all linked and joining together to sing the words this one man wrote – that make it so special. He ended this gig with a massive sing-along, encouraging even the bar staff and security guards to sing because, as the man himself said, if everyone sings along right there and then, it becomes something more than five guys on stage screaming at a crowd for 90 minutes, it becomes something special, lifting us all as equals out of the mundanity of everyday life and joining us in something greater and transcendental.

That’s why I love going to gigs, and that’s why I love standing on the floor, despite the times when you can’t always see and you’re crushed between the big sweaty guy in front and the barrier behind. It’s all about being part of something and joining in to make the night something more than you can get at home with your headphones in.

Out of this world…

Went for a quick jaunt down to London last Friday, ostensibly for a bit of research for the story I’m working on, but I also had time to go to the British Library for a look around. Such an amazing place, entering gave me the same hushed-reverence feeling as entering a church, which might be a tad blasphemous but for a book-lover…

Their Out of This World exhibition of Sci-Fi writings and media (#outofthisworld) was brilliant – a fascinating and insightful look at the genre through the ages. And surprisingly, there’s nothing modern or new about it – it’s been around for centuries. I have an uneasy relationship with Sci-Fi, some I like, some I don’t, but I certainly bulked up my summer reading list from the books featured in the exhibition.

One author in particular caught my eye – China Mieville – and his featured book The City and The City. Searches of my local library failed to find it but I did get Kraken – also by Mieville – and am currently being blown away by it. His writing style is unlike any other, perhaps vaguely Neil Gaiman-ish but not really and manages to pull you right into the heart of the story. I haven’t finished it yet but I’ll try my hardest to today.

If you haven’t heard of him – I’m waving the flag – go find a China Mieville book as soon as you can as prepare to read something unlike anything you’ve read before…

 

The Miracle of the Resurrection…

…of my bicycle.

(This post would have been much better with before and after photos – unfortunately I didn’t think of that until afterwards.)

I don’t particularly like cycling – if I want to go out and enjoy the countryside I’d rather walk as there are more opportunities to take photos and it’s much less effort. It was such a nice day this Saturday though that I had the urge to go for a bike-ride, so long as it was somewhere flat.

One slight snag – my bike has been chained up outside my flat for almost 2 years – through two particularly harsh winters and all the weather in between. It also had some sort of climbing plant growing up and around its frame, and ivy had completely covered the bottom of its wheels. Undeterred, I set about trying to get it into a ride-able state.

The thing that took the longest was probably trying to get the padlock off – copious oil and much key-wiggling couldn’t offset the effect of rain and dirt, but a few blows from the lump hammer soon sorted it out. Getting the plants off it, whilst trying to be noble and not just rip the lot off but actually unwind it and not break the plant, took a while too, but eventually my bike was free. Now to see how it had fared…

Not too badly, all considering. The handle bars are a bit rusty where the paint has flaked off, but that’s it really – I pumped the tires up, oiled everything I could reach and that was that – one bike, ready to go! The brakes were fine, the gears were fine – good old British engineering!!

One 10.5 mile bike ride later and despite rather bruised seat bones – I’ll definitely be cycling more and more this summer… so long as it’s somewhere flat!

What would aliens think?

Ok, not my usual preoccupation, but i just passed a sign on the motorway “you are in Rotherham. Why not visit Specsavers next to Morrisons…” the coach went past before i saw the rest but seriously? What would aliens – surreptitously scanning our world to find out what manner of creatures humans are – gather about our culture from that? That we place such importance on our vision that opticians are hailed as similar to tourist attractions – that people travel many miles to visit choice ones?

A lament…

Oh xbox,
Once already called back from the gates
Of that great scrapheap in the sky.
Why do you choose now,
Two-thirds of the way through the amazingness that is Fable II,
To shroud yourself in scarlet,
And fall silent,
Dark and non-responsive.

Oh xbox,
I mourn your passing.