Utopia Surrounded by Poverty

From the very first movie with cyberpunk themes - Metropolis - we find a recurring theme of utopian cities surrounded by destitute poverty. Usually the poverty stricken masses are the servants of the elite who live in the utopian city. Often, the inhabitants of the city consider themselves to be the last remnants of an enlightened society. Yet, through their actions to protect “humanity,” they end up destroying its very essence.

Like all of my themes categories, I don’t distinguish here between movies and animes (which are very influential in cyberpunk) - you will see both listed. And yes, I realize I don’t have all cyberpunk android movies listed…yet. I’m still in the process of uploading my reviews. If you have one in mind that you don’t see here, let me know, and I’ll bump it up in priority.


Utopian City Surrounded by Poverty


August 31, 2007

rednotdead said:

I would think that Ergo Proxy should be added to this list. The poverty stricken areas outside Romdeau in that anime aren’t really “serving” the cities, but the people in the utopias do see themsleves as the last of humanity, and do eventually get destroyed in a way.

September 14, 2007

Illusive Mind said:

Great category, althout “utopia” may be too strong a distinction, extreme wealth surrounded by poverty would probably suffice in the dystopic lands of cyberpunk.

February 23, 2009

number18 said:

What about The Big O? I’m not sure you could classify it as hard and gritty, obvious cyberpunk, but there are a number of android characters and possibly sentient giant robots. Most importantly here, there is an elite society living inside giant domes. And even outside of the povetry stricken zones, the setting the characters act in is possibly all controlled and orchestrated by an unknown outside party, as well. Very noir. Good stuff.

April 1, 2010

John Paul said:

Utopia surrounded by poverty sounds like Zardoz to me.
In this case the poverty stricken masses are the refuse of the elite who live in the utopian city protected by the peripheral shield of vortex 4. In this case the inhabitants are the last remnants of enlightened society. And yes, through their actions to protect “humanity” by sealing themselves away, they end up destroying their very essences. Thus the wish to have Zeke be their executioner.

You might add Demolition Man which has a utopian city complete with bored cops because of its complacent population. The poverty stricken masses are underneath the city in the sewers, just like the morlock.

Neither of these are cyberpunk, but the utopian/disutopian theme is there.

April 14, 2010

Skrýmir said:

The Big O series would be a good one to add to this list and review. I wont spoil it for you by going into plot details, and the visuals are more Steam punk than Cyberpunk, but then again Noir-like visuals are part of the Cyberpunk movie look. There’s Androids, AI, Memory Modification, Utopia Surrounded by Poverty, Corperate Powers, and dective work. I’d say it pretty much foots the bill for a Cyberpunk Anime at least.

January 2, 2012

Preston Maness said:

The movie “In Time” –2011 with Timberlake and Seyfried– also has this motif.

February 8, 2012

Clara Lundin said:

I cannot thank you enough for the post.Much thanks again.

May 16, 2012

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