As we begin to read George Orwell’s 1984 in class, the ideas of dystopian societies and the unknown future have become extremely popular topics in my group of friends. The science fiction genre (my favorite movie genre) is home to hundreds of these kinds of movies and it is obvious why: they are bleak, yet exciting, stories of how technology, idealism, and the human condition are all intertwined like some sort of chaotic mess. Personally, one of my favorite dystopian movies is Spielberg’s Minority Report, where in the future, a special police unit is able to arrest criminals before they commit their crimes, a process known as predictive policing. In the movie, John Anderton, an officer of the special unit, is accused of a future murder of a man he has never met before. What makes Minority Report such an amazing film is how accurate it is in its prediction of the future.
A movie largely about second sight, other wise known as precognitive vision, Minority Report in actuality was extremely prophetic. When it comes to literal predictions of the future, this movie’s idea have maintained truthfulness and have even come a little early. Compared to Back to the Future and other movies of the 70s and 80s, Spielberg’s ideas of 2054 are extremely close to what we are experiencing in 2014. You can make the argument that 2001: A Space Odyssey spawned the beginning of computer tablets and that smart phones were born in Star Trek, but even to this day, I still see headlines referencing Minority Report.
In fact, just the other day I read a story about how Chicago Police are utilizing a program created by a Yale sociologist that helps officers determine the identity of unstable criminals before the crime is committed. This is a great example of predictive policing and how it is being used to lower crime rates significantly in certain cities. It truly makes us wonder, “how will this affect our future?”
What is most interesting about Minority Report, besides the technological advancements, is how the movie shows how governments and people will utilize the technology. Spielberg does a fantastic job of producing this eerie and cold dystopian world where electronic progress has become extremely prevalent in society. For example, eye-scanners are used for both surveillance, track, and also, oddly enough, personally matched advertisements. In addition, officers of the law are able to shut off your vehicle via remote, essentially allowing them to stop you for no reason, similar to the recently developed system by OnStar that allows them to track and stop cars in cases of vehicular theft or car chases. Also we’ve seen the creation of video cameras that are used to aid investigations, robotic drones that have been utilized to spy on suspects and terrorists, and even more importantly, computer have been working away at algorithms and strategies that better aid the police in preventing crime. Let it be known that this is all at least 40 years before the time period in which Minority Report predicted.
Another very impressive note of Spielberg’s film, is that even though it is a movie about the technological advancement of the future, it never loses track of the main theme (much unlike the recent movie Elysium). It’s a story about what happens when people and technology are intertwined, and it sticks with it throughout the film. Although the future portrayed in the movie is fairly appealing, it should be seen through a cautious lens, as the plot tells the audience the dangers of what happens when society turns against you. While watching the film, you feel like it is a civilization of computers and advancements, not humans. This lines up perfectly with Colin Ferrel’s character when he says that the biggest flaw in the system is humans. Which makes sense, because society can never be perfect as long as it suffers from the disease of human entropy.
In the end, Minority Report has remained influential and relevant in both the film industry and in real world scenarios. The plot itself I will avoid discussing in full detail because I truly believe that you should see this film for yourself. It it as brilliant as any sci-fi film and plays better than most. The movie is directed by Spielberg with such fluency and clarity that his intentions are always very clear to the audience. Minority Report truly is a movie that lasts generations.