Once upon a time, a not very long ago at all, 2019 was about as distant and fanciful a concept as could be conceived. Yes, Zager and Evans looked wistfully towards the year 2525 and Buck Rogers gadded about in the fanciful galaxy of the 25th Century but it seems that 2019 was the year that dream-weavers and artistic mystics were really looking towards when they homed in on an epoch-defining time in the future.
It is 2019 in which Ridley Scott’s Los Angeles of Blade Runner is set, all plumes of flame, neon flying cars and origami unicorns. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick’s novel upon which Blade Runner is based is actually set in 1992, so the stretching of credulity is perhaps a little more fitting, even though today’s drones feel another 100 years away at least from gravity-defying vehicles.
Tokyo has yet to be obliterated in a nuclear attack, so good news for Japanese folk who felt 1988’s Akira was alarmingly prophetic. The animated view of the rebuilt city in 2019 saw action a plenty and is now considered a classic of cyberpunk Though still feeling a little more in keeping with the real world than the odd outfits and gang warfare of Mad Max, it still feels like 2019 was a little ambitious.
…talking of which, no coverage of 2019 was more pointed than that of 2019 – After the Fall of New York. Part of a surprisingly huge wave of Italian films which looked to the dystopian futures of Mad Max and Escape from New York for inspiration, largely taking the slightly odd-looking stance that any post-nuclear world would almost certainly revolve around motorbikes and angry gangs. Sergio Martino’s film is hugely entertaining and the berserk costumes on display are perhaps at least in keeping with the abysmal fashions in the real 2019.
Also from 1983 came The New Barbarians, Enzo G. Castellari’s take on 2019 being the year in which once again the world is in post-nuclear meltdown, resulting in the small pockets of remaining humanity fighting back against religious cultists. Actually, this might well be the closest to today so far.
Running Man, the Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring glimpse into 2019, was originally to be set six years from now in 2025, so we can cut this a bit of slack in terms of futuristic accuracy. In fact, Stephen King (under his occasional nom-de-plume of Richard Bachman) has to some extent captured the zeitgeist better than most. A landscape world in which hunters pursue criminals in a world where justice as a concept has become a free for all, feels so like a current news report that only Arnold’s jump suits look a bit unlikely.
There are others: Daybreakers, 2009’s assumption that vampires, of all entities, would be this year’s biggest concern; The Island, Michael Bay’s somewhat disastrous human cloning flick, which even managed to lose a copyright infringement case from the makers of the excellent 1979 film Clonus (which isn’t, as I recall, set in a specific year); futuristic western, Steel Frontier – both low budget and low entertainment…an accusation you could at least throw at 2017’s Geostorm, though its mighty budget garnered few decent reviews.