Movies about the possibilities of the future are coming out every year. With the popularity of dystopian films especially (The Hunger Games, The Road), we know that people like to speculate what it would like to live in a world different from our own. We just hope it will never get as bad as some of those movies depict.
Although we probably won’t be around to see the world change so drastically, there are small things happening every day that we never thought possible. Would your grandparents ever have predicted the prevalence of cell phones today? Or what about the popularity of online shopping, and the slow death of physical books at the hand of E-readers?
We watch movies for an escape from our real lives for a couple hours, but some movies, without even trying, have predicted the way the world would change. Here are 12 movies that have predicted the future in some way.
The Truman Show
Released in 1998, before the huge explosion of reality TV, The Truman Show depicted the day to day life of Truman (Jim Carrey), a man who had no idea his life was being filmed. The entire country was fascinated with his life, even though nothing overly exciting ever happened, until he started to suspect something wasn’t quite right. These days, the popularity of reality shows like The Real Housewives franchise, Jersey Shore, and Keeping Up With the Kardashians make it clear that a lot of people like to watch someone else’s mundane, day to day existence. Not to mention the phenomenon of people like the Kardashians being famous simply for being famous.
The 1982 sci-fi film based on Phillip K. Dick’s Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep, depicts a future where androids are created for human convenience, and then discarded after a couple years. Sound familiar? How many cell phones have you gone through in the last 5 years? Most technology becomes outdated within a few years of its release at this point, and we always need the newest, biggest thing if we don’t want to be left behind. Companies are under so much pressure to advance their own product, that they barely give us time to understand the phone we have, before we have to get in line for the new model.
We may not have laser swords just yet, but the developments made in the area of robotic limbs for amputees have been vast in the last few years. The FDA recently approved a Deka arm, or the “Luke” arm, which was inspired by the robotic arm Luke Skywalker wore in Star Wars after Darth Vader cut off his hand with a lightsaber. The mind-controlled robotic arm allows amputees to perform complex and delicate tasks like picking up things like plastic water bottles, and eggs. The bionic arm, which uses electronic signals controlled by the wearer’s muscles, is now available for purchase from the New Hampshire-based company that developed it.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick‘s 1968 film has predicted various parts of modern life, especially when it comes to technology. During one mission, doctors and astronauts can be seen using electronic tablets that look pretty similar to the iPad that everyone and their toddler use on a daily basis today. Video phone conversations are also used by characters in the movie, and we all know Skype and FaceTime are a common way to communicate today. Space exploration has also advanced significantly since 2001: A Space Odyssey came out. The first moon landing took place in 1969, and using robotics in space exploration is a given.
Minority Report, another Philip K. Dick story adapted into film, definitely has some scary, far-fetched ideas (being convicted of a crime you haven’t committed yet). But one small thing that has come true is the idea of each person being exposed to advertisements tailored specifically to their interests. As main character, John Anderton (Tom Cruise), walks through a mall, the ads he passes actually say his name. Everything you like on Facebook, and follow on Twitter is recorded, for the purpose of choosing ads that should be of interest to you personally. Creepy, or efficient? Maybe a little of both.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
In this 2004 film, characters played by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are able to erase memories of their relationship, and of each others existence, in order to move on after a painful breakup. Researchers at McGill University in Montreal have been working on a theory that painful memories can be targeted and erased through electroshock therapy. This advancement has the potential to help people who have gone through a traumatic experience, like a violent attack. But it could be a slippery slope, when people start to pick and choose what memories they want to get rid of, like, for example, a bad breakup.
Along Came Polly
The Jennifer Aniston, Ben Stiller romantic comedy from 2005 is about a guy who is overly cautious, and afraid of everything, and a woman who is a free spirit, and refuses to live her life worrying about everything bad that could happen. At one point, Polly (Aniston) says to Reuben (Stiller), “I’ve been living my life okay? Which is a lot more than I can say for some freak, who thinks he’s going to get the Ebola virus from a bowl of mixed nuts.” Turns out, in 2014, the Ebola virus has become a real concern for a lot of people. You never know where you could pick something up, and getting Ebola from a shared bowl of mixed nuts doesn’t seem that far-fetched today.
We may be pretty far off from printing a real, living, breathing human being out from our computers, but 3D printing objects has become a reality. The 1985 film depicts a couple of nerds printing a hot girl out by connecting their computer to a Barbie doll, which is, let’s be honest, a little misogynistic, but it was the 80’s after all. Today, there are 3D printers available for sale if you want to print basic objects at home, such as a working wrench. They are also developing techniques for 3D printing medical implants, and Chinese researchers have been able to print human organs using living cells.
The original 1990 Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzeneggar, features taxis called Johnny Cabs that are controlled by artificial intelligence. In real life, self driving cars have been in development for years. You might even have a car that takes control when it comes to parallel parking safely. Most newer cars can sense when you are close to hitting something, and assisting steering is close to becoming a reality. Official predictions for autonomous cars include Mercedes releasing a “Highway Pilot” feature that will allow the car to drive on highways, including passing other vehicles on its own, as early as 2016.
While 1982’s Airplane II may have made a joke out of the need for a full-body scanner security feature at the airport, it is actually something that has become a reality, but not without controversy. In the film, the scanners were used to see what was underneath attractive female passenger’s clothing, but in real life, airport security uses the scanners to see if passengers are carrying weapons onto the plane. The scanners allow them to check passengers without any physical contact. Objections relating to privacy, and the possibility of scans on children being used as child pornography have arisen, but most airports still use full-body scanners as a security precaution.
The Cable Guy
In Jim Carrey‘s third appearance on this list, we have 1996’s The Cable Guy. In it, Carrey’s character says, “Soon every American home will integrate their television, phone and computer. You’ll be able to visit the Louvre on one channel, or watch female wrestling on another. You can do your shopping at home, or play Mortal Kombat with a friend from Vietnam. There’s no end to the possibilities!” Our home entertainment options pretty much include all those things today. The world seems a lot smaller when all you need is an internet connection to connect to anyone in the world at any time.
Super Mario Bros.
The box office disaster Super Mario Bros. in 1993 eerily depicts the World Trade Center twin towers disappearing 8 years before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. In the movie, the towers disintegrate, and vanish as the real world collides with a virtual reality version controlled by villain, Koopa Troopa. The visual is eerily similar to what millions of people saw as the towers collapsed after being hit by two airplanes on 9/11. Conspiracy theories regarding whether the film was a warning of future events can, of course, never be confirmed.