The Lure of Dystopia

I just watched a very interesting movie called, I think, Existenz, although I missed the first 15 minutes or so, and it was interesting because of the concept more than the execution. The basic plot was a very vivid, persuasive, virtual reality game and they were never sure if they were in it or out of it, if it was them or their character talking, and they went from dystopia to dystopia, from the time she got shot in the church, with the bone gun and bullet teeth, to the noir country store, to the trout farm, to the Chinese restaurant, to the battle scene, and on and on.
The idea of the blurring of reality and fantasy was interesting, but the problem with me is when I’m watching a film, unless it’s a truly great one and sometimes not even then, is that I keep rewriting the film, first of all guessing how each scene will end and when I get it wrong there’s a part of me that’s still following the other plot, but with this one it was more general, more tonal.
I kept thinking damn, why do they have to make it so grotty and gross, like all of the vivisection, the trout farm in particular but there were a few other scenes with cutting up frogs and lizards, and if you’re playing a game, how much fun is it to be an assembly line worker in a damned fish factory? Why not have some scenes in a beautiful forest, or on the high seas, or in exotic night clubs, and have some more glamorous people?
Everybody was sweaty, and diseased, and vaguely threatening, and they repeated themselves a lot. Is it that much more appealing to watch dystopia than utopias, or are they just that much easier to write?
Of course, a film has to have conflict so it can have resolution of conflict, but damn. Would it hurt to have a smidgin of fun in our fantasies?


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