I have a dilemma. I’m soaked in a society where the old mixes with the new in a way seemingly unimagined by Sci Fi filmmaker of the past or indeed the general public.
It must be very hard to produce a film based in a future of say about 40 to 60 years from the present. Just look at Bladerunner – an excellent gritty looking adventure set in Los Angeles in 2019, 6 years from now! The film was made in 1982 (the year I left school so quite a long time ago) but I’m sure the venerable city doesn’t look too much different to how it did 30 years ago (though I’m sure if any of you are more familiar with the place you’ll tell me if I’m wrong?).
Even books can get it wrong (I’m thinking 1984 here though of course there is no Sci Fi wizardry in this classic book and looking at it from the 1940’s quite possible to imagine such a dystopian future). None the less anything set in a future within our lifetimes does seem to replace everything rather than embellish it with the potential new.
I have noticed a tendency nowadays to set things in the ‘near’ future which can be a little bit of a copout. It means they can use current land and city scapes, dress the characters up pretty much as they are now and even use the same vehicles.
I think the job is made harder by some of the things that set time periods apart in the past being less important now. Hair styles for instance. There is a clear distinction between the hair styles of 1964 and 1974 and again from 1974 to 1984 but I would argue that in general our general everyday hair styles are now pretty much the same as they were back in 1984 (and I’m not counting the trendy styles seen in film and on TV). Ok there were a few differences but not as many. The same with clothes: again look at the mid-60’s to the mid-70’s and then jump to the 90’s. Yes it’s still possible to look at a TV programme or film from the early 90’s and see the style differences but they are less subtle. I have worn jeans, t-shirts and trainers for a long time (not the same ones obviously and I do wash them occasionally ) but in general, the same style. Watch something from ten years ago and you’ll not see much difference stylistically.
At this point I just have to talk about ties. Just what are they all about? Men have been wearing basically the same bit of cloth around their necks for a hundred or more years – but why? What use do they have? In the sixties the futuristic programmes showed a distinct lack of ties in the future, a future we are now in (think Space 1999 etc.) yet we still wear the things. Of course they do have some uses: they are excellent devices for soaking up coffee or soup (and as long as they don’t dry out too fast you can refresh yourself later) but otherwise quite dangerous (always make sure you don’t dangle it in a shredder at least if you’re wearing a white shirt – red ones are much better in these situations).
The biggest difference that sets the decades apart is in the technology. Mobiles/cell phones are getting bigger (which seem a bit of an anomaly really given how we laugh at the bricks from the ’90’s) and TV’s are now flat, thin large screened and can show programmes in HD and 3D (though for some reason you can still see Bruce Forsyth..).
There’s probably a lot more examples (and please feel free to mention them here) but the point is that where in the past the changes were big (black and white TV to Colour, short hair to long etc.) now they are small and subtle.
And so our future will look pretty much the same with similar if not the same buildings, populated by similarly dressed people but if you look closely…