In a cultural moment when the wheels feel like they’re coming off it can be instructive to look back at other moments of particular uncertainty. What did our worries say about us on the cusp of the turn of this century? Given the current sense of crisis the disembodied threats of not quite twenty years ago may seem quaint. But that was not some remote generation we cannot inspect. That was us. What was on our minds, and what lessons if any can we draw?
The turn of the millennium led to a palpable angst in movies, often manifested in terms of unstable reality and/or visions of the end of the world. Movies were asking the big questions: Who are we? What’s the point of it all? And could it be we are all just battery-packs for a lot of aliens looking to power their microwave ovens from high-maintenance primates floating in goo?
All ten of these films show a sense of unease about the future which they express by imagining our lives and reality as porous, fake, insidious or merely in flux. Points of uncertainty include, aliens: outsiders that mean us harm, nuclear holocaust: the violent nadir of technology and politics, artificial intelligence: a sense that we might be inventing our own slave masters, and media: television, video, and computers seen to be warping and consuming our sense of self. (In as much as a rupturing id has crawled from the pits of reality television and social media to the top of government this last one was perhaps the most prescient.) It was The Millennium, no one knew what to expect but everyone was nervous. CONTINUE TO FULL LIST