I am definitely not a big fan of science fiction, but in moderate amount I can bear it and sometimes even enjoy it, especially when I can make sociological connections. This time I will focus on social class in these two films, which clearly contains an element of dystopia.
In Time was released in 2011 and it was directed by Andrew Niccol. Justin Timberlake played a poor guy who came from the lower strata of the society, whereas Amanda Seyfried came from the rich upper class family. Juan Solanas directed film Upside Down, where the main characters are played by Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess. Once again lovers are separated by the dystopian vision of the stratification of society.
The social order was rigid in Middle Ages, so the social mobility did not really exist. If you were poor, it was your fate designed by God and so the life goes.. Nevertheless it improved in the next centuries and now in Postmodern era we are meant to think that social class does not matter, so everyone can achieve his/her ‘American dream’ if only life is lived according to protestant ethics and morality.
These two films use a binary opposition when it comes to representation of a social stratification. In Time used very drastic measures, since work was prerequisite to earn time for living. There is no money, just life on the game. One from lower class would not be able to cross the borders physically to make into the glamorous world of money, glitter and celebration of life. In Upside Down two worlds with different gravity field are represented to the audience. Down below world looks like a place after nuclear war, since everything is damaged, hopeless and people are extremely poor there. Different reality is up there, where the rich people live, lights shine and music is played in restaurants. Adam (Jim Sturgess) manages to breach the laws of gravity and goes up there to meet Eden (Kirsten Dunst), a woman, who he has loved for a long time, and of course they get their ‘happily ever after’ moment. Will (Justin Timberlake) and Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) decide to eliminate the huge gap between poor and rich, and end up together. It is a part of Hollywood formula, thus it is difficult to imagine different ending to these films. In both films, the rich and successful woman had to leave her comfort and come to the simple world, because powerful men do not ‘adopt’ powerless people.
Science fiction films might create unreal narrative, but the general ideas of these films are existing social issues in the society. It is worth to mention that both films outline contemporary society’s obsession with youthfulness and desire to never get old. Well, at least to able to preserve or renew a face of 20 – 25 years old. There is utopia and there is dystopia. It really depends where you are posited. So how far we are from Middle Ages?