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Weekend Binge: 6 post-apocalyptic movie worlds that would be safer to live in than smoggy Delhi

The air pollution levels in Delhi have been ‘severe’ for five days. Schools have been closed, construction work has been suspended, and CM Arvind Kejriwal has been revisiting some of his more controversial ideas.

weekend binge Updated: Nov 11, 2017 11:56 IST
Rohan Naahar
Rohan Naahar
Hindustan Times
Weekend Binge,Blade Runner 2049,Ryan Gosling
Breathe Delhi. And also binge on these movies.

Every week, we will curate a collection of titles - movies, TV, general miscellanea - for you to watch (and in some cases, read, or listen to), in a series we call Weekend Binge. The selection will be based on a theme which binds the picks - which could be extremely blunt in certain instances, or confusingly abstract in some. No rules apply, other than the end goal being getting some great entertainment to watch.

While the idea is to base the theme on the week’s major events - it could be the release of a new movie, or show - we could also use this opportunity to comment on our world in general, and turn to art to wrap our heads around some of the more difficult stories of the past seven days.

When the first trailer for Blade Runner 2049 was released, choking as it was on the incredible visuals of Roger Deakins, there was one shot in particular that stood out. You know the one. It was a blink-and-you-miss moment (both in that trailer and, as it turns out, the film), but it’s seared into our minds. Ryan Gosling’s character K arrives in a Las Vegas ruined by radiation, the skies above him bright orange with toxic fumes.

In the last week, it seems we are almost living inside the poisonous world of Blade Runner. The thick smog hangs like death, obscuring the tops of buildings and trees in Delhi. It sneaks indoors, into subways and underground metros, homes and schools. And the masked people on the streets only add to the eeriness.

The air pollution levels in Delhi have been ‘severe’ for five days now. Schools have been closed, construction work has been suspended, and CM Arvind Kejriwal has been revisiting some of his more controversial ideas. It makes you wonder, could living in Blade Runner’s Los Angeles be safer?

Mad Max 2

You know what’s a better movie than Mad Max: Fury Road, one of the greatest action movies of the last decade? Mad Max 2. If you can get over Mel Gibson’s face being in virtually every scene (it’s just a matter of concentration), George Miller’s original trilogy has the seed of every great concept he explored further in Fury Road, thanks to a blockbuster budget and no Mel Gibson. But when we talk about two legitimate masterpieces, there’s very little that makes one better than the other. Mostly, it’s just a matter of taste.

The Road

In those SNL parodies of post-apocalyptic movies, you’d notice how they go overboard with all the de-saturated tones and heavily stylised backdrops. That’s because there was a wave of these post-apocalyptic movies that arrived, in quick succession, in the late 2010s, and very nearly reached self-parodic levels. Three of them find a place in this list, because no one wants Terminator: Salvation recommended to them. The Road is perhaps the best among them. It’s a moody little movie based on Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, about the evil mankind is so capable of, and how powerless we ultimately are when confronted by nature.

The Book of Eli

Most people laughed at Denzel Washington’s pulpy post-apocalyptic thriller, but if you watch it with an open mind, you’d appreciate the striking visuals, the Western-influence, and the black humour. You’d notice carefully crafted sets, even more intricately designed costumes and makeup. And then there’s the twist at the end. That’s where most detractors check out. But this movie is so much more than its ending. It’s a Biblical allegory, a statement on the organised religion, and like The Road, a reminder that most of us aren’t nice people.

Snowpiercer

Like The Book of Eli, Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer is an allegorical tale. The entire story is set inside a train that is on an endless loop around the world. The passengers are divided into the haves (they live decadent lives up front) and the have-nots (sequestered at the back). The train has an ecosystem of its own, having degenerated into our worst tendencies as a species that has destroyed the outside world. Like Bong’s follow-up Okja, Snowpiercer has a very poor opinion of humanity, but that doesn’t stop him from losing all hope.

9

It is understandable that Shane Acker’s 2009 animated film was roundly rejected by the general public, despite Tim Burton having attached himself as a producer. In hindsight, how could we have expected an audience that thrives on Fast & Furious 8 and Transformers 6 to appreciate a weird steampunk animated movie about a ragtag group of rag dolls tackling the apocalypse? And then they threw in German dictators, evil machines, and a metaphorical Robert Oppenheimer character, and you get yourself a sure shot flop.

Soylent Green

As far as post-apocalyptic eco-thrillers go, you could do far worse than Richard Fleischer’s 1973 sci-fi classic about how pollution has destroyed the planet. Although once again, as with Mel Gibson, you’d have to concentrate really hard to ignore Charlton Heston’s gun-nut presence.

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The author tweets @RohanNaahar

First Published: Nov 11, 2017 11:23 IST