Defamiliarizing the Future

We’ve spent the course of the semester analyzing apocalyptic films that envision the end of the world, but is there really any way to realistically portray what the end will look like? While it’s easy to get caught up in the zombies from 28 Days Later or the widespread panic caused by infertility in Children of Men, the future may not look like anything any film director or writer could have imagined. The short film World of Tomorrow put that into perspective for me, as the setting of it makes no geographical or physical sense.

We are introduced to Emily Prime, a child who is soon visited by a third generation clone of herself and taken into the future. While we aren’t shown anything in Emily Prime’s present other than the device she receives clone Emily’s message on, it’s obvious that the future is nothing like her present. Almost every setting consists of primary colors and geometric shapes; the only thing tangible to what we have now is outer space. However, the lack of background forces us to focus more on clone Emily’s dialogue. Removing one of the elements of the mis-en-scene in the film places more focus on the others, and in this case, we can focus more on dialogue.

Similarly to World of Tomorrow, Wall-E also presents us with a defamiliarized portrayal of the earth. Garbage covers the surface of the planet, and humans have evacuated to sustain life in outer space. While this trash-filled earth comments on the possible affects of consumerism, it emphasizes the unfamiliarity of the end of the world. While there are hundreds of adaptations of what the end of the world could be like, World of Tomorrow presents us with an extreme vision of it. We have advanced so far in technology over the past 50 years, so there’s really no predicting what the future will look like. This film succeeds at defamiliarizing our world and reminds us that we will never truly be ready for the end.




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