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5 Sci-fi mind control films that predate 'The Giver'

Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush star in The Giver.
Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush star in The Giver. Walden Media

One of the most chilling aspects of Lois Lowry’s novel “The Giver” and Phillip Noyce’s upcoming theatrical adaptation of the same name is its depiction of a world under authoritarian control. Instead of being forced into subjugation by a cruel dictator, the society in the novel and the film have voluntarily given up emotion and freedom of thought to eradicate war and poverty. Here are five other science fiction films that portray civilizations in a state of near total mind control.

The Giver,” starring Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, Meryl Streep, Odeya Rush and Taylor Swift, comes to theaters Aug. 15.

Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
Fahrenheit 451 (1966) Universal Pictures

Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

Directed by François Truffaut

Adapted from Ray Bradbury’s novel of the same name, “Fahrenheit 451” depicts a world in which all literature has been outlawed by fascistic state and “Firemen” are assigned to burn any and all writing that they find in order to keep the populace safe from independent thought. In addition to the ban on books, an interactive TV show called “The Family” is required viewing, largely because it lulls the audiences into a placid intellectual stupor, presaging the creation of reality TV by several decades.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)
A Clockwork Orange (1971) Warner Bros. Pictures

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Based on Anthony Burgess’ novel of the same name, “A Clockwork Orange” is set in a grimy future London, where a psychotic hoodlum called Alex (Malcolm McDowell) terrorizes his fellow citizens with a gang of sociopaths until he is captured by the police and forced by government scientists to endure the Ludovico technique, an experimental new kind of therapy that rids Alex of his violent impulses and replaces them with a new state sanctioned morality.

1984 (1984)
1984 (1984) 20th Century Fox

1984 (1984)

Directed by Michael Radford

The second film adaptation of George Orwell’s landmark novel of the same name, “1984” follows office worker Winston Smith (John Hurt) as he stumbles through life in Airstrip One, a future version of England controlled by the monstrous Big Brother government. Smith’s life is destroyed after he catches the attention of the omniscient Thought Police and they subject him to a hell of his own imagining until he again becomes a pliant, subservient and "happy" member of society.

Dark City (1998)
Dark City (1998) New Line Cinema

Dark City (1998)

Directed by Alex Proyas

Set in a sprawling, sunless 1940s metropolis, “Dark City” depicts a world everyone and everything has a specific purpose, but that purpose changes nightly at the whim of the Strangers, a group of pale black suited beings that rewrite the personalities and histories of the city’s inhabitants. While the Strangers have a very specific reason for wiping and rewriting  their subjects’ memories, their technique also has the benefit of keeping the citizenry in check because no one remains the same long enough to the notice the seams of their patchwork existence.

Equilibrium (2002)
Equilibrium (2002) Dimension Films

Equilibrium (2002)

Directed by Kurt Wimmer

Like “The Giver,” “Equilibrium” takes place in a world where all emotion and artistic expression are suppressed with a regular series of injections. And like “Fahrenheit 451,” a group of elite commandos are tasked with finding and destroy all contraband and executing any “Sense Offenders.” Really, “Equilibrium” is a hodgepodge of dystopian premises combined with a bizarre style of action choreography called “gun kata” but it's an enjoyable engaging B movie that stars a pre-Batman Christian Bale.


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