It’s not often that a science fiction movie does not take place in the future. Today’s popular sci fi films like Ender’s Game, The Hunger Games and Divergent, all take place decades or even centuries from now. Although, there’s no way to know if the filmmakers’ versions of the future will be spot-on or far from it. Will we be fighting aliens in a few hundred years? Will our great-great grandchildren be tasked with killing each other? Only our descendants will know.
However, some of the futuristic dates of science fiction films made in the 20th century have actually come around. Escape from New York is set in the “future” of 1997, 2001: A Space Odyssey predicts the “future” society of 2001, and Back to The Future II sends the protagonists to 2015. Take a look at some of the ridiculous things that these futuristic movies of the past thought would be happening today.
7) People Go By Numbers, Not Names
According to the movie, Just Imagine, which came out in 1930 and was set 50 years into the future (1980), people should no longer have names like John and Mary. By the “future” of the 80s, everyone is identified by a series of numbers and letters. In fact, the main characters of the movie are J-21, LN-18, RT-42, MT-3, and Z-4.
From the 80s onward, some names have gotten stranger (celebrities’ children, to be specific), but they’re still words and not digits. Just Imagine was a little off on this future prediction.
6) Manhattan is a Maximum Security Prison
The futuristic film Escape from New York, made in 1981, predicted that 16 years into the future (1997) all of Manhattan would be converted into a maximum security prison. In the late 90s, America in, Escape from New York is overcome with crime, which is why an entire island had to be built into a prison. John Carpenter, who co-wrote and directed the film, thought that the Watergate Scandal, was just the beginning of a lawless future for the United States.
Carpenter ended up being incorrect with this hypothesis. Violent crime rates have actually decreased through the 90s into today, so the year 1997 wasn’t nearly as frightening as he thought it would be. Even further, Manhattan is still one of the most upscale sections of New York City. Home to Broadway, universities like NYU and the famous, Times Square, Manhattan doesn’t seem like it’a going to change anytime soon.
5) You Can Steal Life from Others to Extend Your Own
In the 1992 sci fi, Freejack, it’s the year 2009 and the richest of the rich can afford to go to great extents to prolong their life. They hire “bonejackers” who travel into the past and snatch people right before they die. The bonejacker brings the person back to their customer who takes over their body to keep on living.
In the real 2009, of course, nothing close to this was happening. First, time travel still isn’t possible. Even further, doctors aren’t able to transport someone’s mind into another body. Although organ transplants have become safer and more prevalent, we can’t transplant an entire body even in this day and age.
4) We’ve Sent People to Jupiter
2001: A Space Odyssey, which hit theaters in 1968, showed that in 2001, the United States would be sending scientists to Jupiter. At the time the film was released, NASA was gearing up for a manned mission to moon. A year later, the Apollo 11 landed on the moon letting the first humans ever to set foot on lunar soil – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. So it’s not surprising that Stanley Kubrick, who wrote, produced and directed 2001: A Space Odyssey, assumed that we would continue sending men deeper into space, and in 30 years, Jupiter would be a cake walk.
What’s actually happening today, unfortunately, is that NASA is being allotted less and less money from the federal government. With our national debt at an all-time high, it’s no surprise that space exploration isn’t first on the priority list amongst terrorist threats and an economic recession. Maybe someday we’ll be going to Jupiter, but with NASA’s current budget, it won’t be in the near future, and it certainly didn’t happen in 2001.
3) Robots Are Cleaning Our Homes
According to Bicentennial Man, households should have all had robots to do the cleaning by 2005. The 1999 film predicted that in just 6 short years, regular families and androids would live side-by-side. The android in the movie, which the family calls “Andrew,” not only cleans but also expresses emotion and creativity. For example, when it accidentally breaks the child’s doll, it feels distraught and carves a new doll for her out of wood.
Today, technology has come a long way, but despite the hopes of Bicentennial Man, if we’re not cleaning our own homes, we’re hiring a human cleaning service to help us out. The closest thing we’ve come to a cleaning robot like “Andrew” is the Roomba vacuums that travel across the floor without assistance. However, they can only perform one cleaning task in one room at a time, and we’re pretty sure they don’t feel empathy (They certainly don’t apologize for scaring the cat)!
2) A.I. Are Trying to Take Over the World
In this next movie, robots take cleaning up the human race to a whole different level. The Terminator movies, which first came out in 1984, projected that sometime between 1997 and 2011 (the day was pushed back later and later throughout the films), A.I. would wipe out all of humanity in a nuclear holocaust.
Computers certainly have gotten smarter – for example, just this year, a computer passed the “Turing test” for the first time, in which a program must convince a group of people it’s a real human. However, A.I. hasn’t declared war on us yet. If you’re here reading this article, you know that either Terminator‘s plot was not carried out by 2011 (or that you’re actually a robot).
1) Adults Drive Flying Cars and Kids Ride Hoverboards
On October 21, 2015, Marty McFly and Doc arrive in the future in Back to the Future II. The movie from 1989 painted a picture of what they thought the year 2015 might look like, including cars flying through the sky and kids riding hoverboards instead of skateboards.
October 2015 is still over a year ahead in our future, but for flying cars to be the only transportation and complex air roadways be in use, the technology would have had to be invented years before. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen any flying cars or hoverboards yet, so we probably won’t all have one a year from now. It looks like where we’re going, we’re still going to need roads.