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Science fiction is a genre that many people think of as apolitical in nature. It is, on a superficial level, about galaxies far, far away. It's supposed to be about human nature, technology, and how we'd all end up coping with strange scenarios that couldn't possibly happen.
But, that's only true on a superficial level. Many science fiction authors were famous for penning works that had deep political messages. Most people don't realize how often science fiction has gotten political, or shown the worries many people have had about the current political climate of the day.
This means that there have been many political sci-fi movies and books that have been made throughout the decades. If you've ever wanted to see the more political side of science fiction, why not give these famously good flicks a shot?
Perhaps one of the oldest, outwardly political sci-fi movies would have to be Metropolis. This terrifyingly dark look at the future might not seem like it has too much to do with politics, until you really look at the messages it sends about classism.
The film, which was made during the rise of the Weimar Republic in Germany, was a political commentary about the current state of Europe. The movie was so strongly political that many officials in America worried about Metropolis promoting communism.
That being said, the entire movie became a poignant look into issues that affected the world right before World War II. Scarily, many of the issues brought forth by Metropolis are still alive today. That's why this movie, which is nearly a century old, still remains one of the best political sci-fi movies to ever be made.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
The Day the Earth Stood Still remains one of the most obvious politically-inclined science fiction films ever made. The message, of course, is one about pacifism and denouncing violence on all levels.
In fact, the entire plot revolves around the idea that aliens who visited Earth would come with a peaceful message – and how humans ended up being way too violent and suspicious to salvage a relationship with Klaatu (Michael Rennie) and his robot.
The end of the movie shows Klaatu warning humanity to end the violence, or watch as their world dies. In terms of political sci-fi movies, The Day the Earth Stood Still may be heavy-handed, but it still remains brilliant in its message regardless.
Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Dr. Strangelove is one of the most famous political sci-fi movies to have ever been made – and rightfully so.
As one of Stanley Kubrick's more comedic works, Dr. Strangelove lampoons the US military complex, the crazy selfishness of politicians, as well as the way people seemed to worship nuclear bombs back in the day. It has plenty of tropes that everyone loves, including The Action Bomb, Aluminum Christmas Trees, and loads of Casual Danger Dialog.
The clearly mad Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers) warns people that they need more war devices, more nukes, and more everything. Though Strangelove himself is a huge comic relief, the movie surrounding him poses quite a few good questions.
Who's really behind our military choices? Can we trust them? What happens if someone ends up pressing "the wrong button" and starting a nuclear war?
In terms of political science fiction, Dr. Strangelove is a movie that makes no pretenses about its satire. Much of its snark can be found from its roots in an earlier political science fiction novel, Red Alert.
That being said, Dr. Strangelove is insanely funny, even by today's standards. It delivers laughs by the dozen. However, it does make you think – and that's why you must watch it.
Alphaville, also known as Alphaville: Une Etrange Aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965), is a one of the many political sci-fi movies to hail from a non-English-speaking country – in this case, France.
The French noir sci-fi flick takes viewers into a dystopian city called Alphaville, where all free thought has been declared illegal. A computer by the name of Alpha 60 rules over everyone with an iron fist. In a world where love, art, and free speech is outlawed, can a single spy save people from Alpha 60's oppression?
This is one of those films where dystopian science fiction politics are meant to paint a "worst case scenario" for us. It's Orwellian, intense, and warns us of what happens when politics stop bringing human nature into the mix.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Most people recognize A Clockwork Orange as Stanley Kubrick's magnum opus. It's become the movie associated with a number of major pop culture references - the "Kubrick Stare," the "Singing in the Rain" scene, and the milk bar, to name a few.
Few political sci-fi movies quite has as much an impact on pop culture as A Clockwork Orange. But, as awesome as the movie is, it's hard not to notice the political side of watching Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his droogs deal with the consequences of their behavior.
The film is all about social control – and it makes you wonder whether or not the way that people tackle crime really is worth the outcome. These days, A Clockwork Orange is all the more disturbing, simply because there are so many parallels between this Kubrick-created dystopia and the way society works these days.
RoboCop is dystopian in nature, campy, and surprisingly political – which makes sense, considering it is a satirical sci-fi flick. The entire reason why RoboCop existed in the movie is because a greedy, corrupt corporation (OmniCorp) decided to privatize the Detroit/Delta City police force.
While the hero in RoboCop struggles against his evil corporate masters, the movie forces us to take a look at our current world. Are we really so far away from the superficial science fiction dystopia presented in this movie where companies own everything? The more you think about it, the more it's easy to see why this is one of the most impressive political sci-fi movies out there.
Akira was a manga-based anime movie that flopped in the Japanese box office (earning only 750 million yen against a 1.1 billion yen budget), but became a cult classic in United States. The film has since become regarded as one of the best pieces of animation for adults – easy to see why, seeing as how it really does bring forth a bunch of excellent points.
The Japanese government ends up destroying Tokyo after experiments involving children with ESP go awry. Neo-Tokyo has been rebuilt, but all is not well. Gang violence is at an all-time high, and so is sedition.
It sounds like pure science fiction, but much like with any other dystopian flick, it does have political elements to it – in particular, the state of Japan in the 80s. If you give it a watch, you'll understand why so many cult followers insist that it's one of the best political sci-fi movies ever made.
Demolition Man (1993)
Unlike many of the other sci-fi movies on this list, Demolition Man was quite popular when it first came out. In fact, it was a smash hit. Much like most of the other flicks you've been reading about, it's hard to deny that there's a lot of political dystopia in the world Demolition Man presents.
The difference with Demolition Man's message is that it's not one where we need to worry about an evil, corporate-run, totalitarian state. Rather, Demolition Man is all about what happens when a nanny state goes too far.
Fans who are more conservative and right-wing may find this to be one of their most favorite political sci-fi movies on this list. It's satirical, it's fun, and it's got plenty of action. What's not to love?
The Matrix (1999)
If you lived in the 90s, you remember The Matrix. In this dystopian world, everyone's reality is controlled by computers, making them unwitting slaves. Only a handful of free-thinking hackers can unhook themselves from the Matrix and potentially save mankind.
On first glance, this is one of those films that seems like total science fiction. But, there's a deeper meaning to this film that makes it incredibly political in nature. We are all slaves - at least, to corporations. We all have to work, or we'll die. Does that seem free to you?
Many issues arise with the way The Matrix presents society and corporatocracy. It's unrealistic to expect a society to exist without order, commerce, and business.
But, for all intents and purposes, there's plenty of reason why people regularly cite this as one of the most political sci-fi movies ever made – and even more reason as to why it's one of the best movies made in the 90s.
Avatar is one of the few movies that had an incredible level of success – and few sci-fi copycats in recent years. The film has made a lot of waves for being one of the more political sci-fi movies made last decade, primarily because it showed both government and corporations as the "bad guys."
It's hard to deny that humans would probably try to conquer a world like Pandora, if we ever discovered one like it. Chances are that people also would want to pave over everything, much like the baddies in Avatar seemed to want to do.
Though it has been critiqued for being somewhat of an environmental guilt trip, Avatar is an amazing story, and it definitely is worth a watch. If anything, it's worth watching just so that you can take a look at the awesome effects seen with the Na'Vi character design.
The Hunger Games (2012)
Featuring a similar story to the Japanese novel/fim series Battle Royale, The Hunger Games is overtly political in nature. Both the movie and the book openly discuss the differences between the rich and the poor, and also make a point to show the dangers of having one class that has complete control over another class.
Say what you will about the characters or the fight scenes, but The Hunger Games is a box office hit for a reason. It's one of the newest political sci-fi movies out there, and it's getting people talking. We can't argue with that outcome.