Brave New World?

"Time to die," says Roy Batty in the final scenes of the film Blade Runner. This seems to be the motto of all artists who envisage the future. As the third millennium begins we take a look at some scifi images of the world to come.

Since the Industrial Revolution sped up the pace of development, artists began to look ahead and anticipate the future. Jules Verne, a French writer living in the middle of the nineteenth century, foresaw the submarine, helicopter and space travel. H. G. Wells in his novel The Time Machine presented a sad world of poor, defenceless humans attacked and kidnapped by maneating Morlocks. Writers such as George Orwell and Aldous Huxley created pessimistic conceptions of dehumanized industrial worlds. But it was the invention of film which enabled artists to present their visions to the fullest extent.

Where men become machines: a scene from Metropolis

One of the most famous futuristic films is Metropolis, made in 1927 by Fritz Lang. This halfmythical, halfromantic story shows the world divided into two parts. Gigantic skyscrapers towering above the city are inhabited by 'overlords' who control the working masses. The workers, who live underground, are deprived of all rights. They work in large factories, where they gradually lose their minds and become parts of huge machines. Clips from of the film were used in the video for Queen' s hit Radio Ga-Ga.

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Stan Lee