A Clockwork Orange is a 1962 dystopian novella by Anthony Burgess. A satire portraying a future and dystopian Western society with (based on contemporary trends) a culture of extreme youth rebellion and violence: it explores the violent nature of humans, human free will to choose between good or evil, and the desolation of free will as a solution to evil. Teenage gangs, enraged by the docile, clockwork society that they find themselves living in, are constantly on the rampage. The main character, Alex, is a fifteen year old boy who revels in Beethoven as much as he loves his nightly episodes of violence and rape. Burgess experiments with language, writing in a Russian-influenced argot called “Nadsat” used by the younger characters and the anti-hero in his first-person narration. According to Burgess, the novel was a jeu d’esprit written in just three weeks. He bemoaned the fact that the book had been taken as the source material for a 1971 film that was perceived to glorify sex and violence.
The brutality and gang violence of A Clockwork Orange was inspired by a terrible incident during a blackout in London at the height of the Second World War, where Burgess’ pregnant wife Lynne (Llewela Jones), was assaulted, raped and robbed by a group of American soldiers. Subsequently she suffered a miscarriage and the couple lost their first child.
The book was written as a form of catharsis and a severe warning about a future where the state controls the way we think, and everyone is turned into good, little citizens . . . without the power of choice.
Fahrenheit 451 is a 1953 dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury. The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and firemen burn any house that contains them.
The novel has been the subject of various interpretations, primarily focusing on the historical role of book burning in suppressing dissenting ideas. Bradbury has stated that the novel is not about censorship, but a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature, which leads to a perception of knowledge as being composed of factoids, partial information devoid of context.
François Truffaut wrote and directed a film adaptation of the novel in 1966. At least two BBC Radio 4 dramatisations have also been aired, both of which follow the book very closely.
The book’s title refers to the temperature that Bradbury understood to be the autoignition point of book paper.
Battle Royale takes place in an alternate timeline—Japan is a member region of a totalitarian state known as the Republic of Greater East Asia. Under the guise of a “study trip”, a group of students from Shiroiwa Junior High School in the fictional town of Shiroiwa, in Kagawa Prefecture, are gassed on a bus. They awaken in the Okishima Island School on Okishima, an isolated, evacuated island southwest of Shodoshima (modeled after the island of Ogijima). They learn that they have been placed in an event called the Program. Officially a military research project, it is a means of terrorizing the population, of creating such paranoia as to make organized insurgency impossible.
The first Program was held in 1947. According to the rules, fifty third-year junior high school classes are selected (prior to 1950, forty-seven classes were selected) annually to participate in the Program for research purposes. The students from a single class are isolated and are required to fight the other members of their class to the death. The Program ends when only one student remains, with that student being declared the winner. Their movements are tracked by metal collars, which contain tracking and listening devices; if any student should attempt to escape the Program, or enter declared forbidden zones (which are randomly selected at the hours of 12 and 6, both a.m. and p.m.), a bomb will be detonated in the collar, killing the wearer. If no one dies within any 24-hour period, all collars will be detonated simultaneously and there will be no winner.
After being briefed about the Program, the students are issued survival packs that include a map, compass, food and water, and a random weapon or other item, which may be anything from a gun to a paper fan. During the briefing, two students (Fumiyo Fujiyoshi and Yoshitoki Kuninobu) anger the supervisor, Kinpatsu Sakamochi, who kills both. As the students are released onto the island, they each react differently to their predicament; beautiful delinquent Mitsuko Souma murders those who stand in her way using deception, Hiroki Sugimura attempts to find his best friend and his secret love, Kazuo Kiriyama attempts to win the game by any means necessary (stemming from his lack of ability to feel human emotion due to a brain injury sustained in a car crash while in utero) and Shinji Mimura makes an attempt to escape with his best friend Yutaka Seto.
The film is particularly well known for a single tracking shot that lasts for over 8 minutes. The shot follows a car slowly moving through a traffic jam. After eight minutes, the cause is discovered: a family has been in a car accident and their bodies lie across the road. It is a stark contrast to the beeping horns and frustrated drivers waiting to get by.
Anybody who uses the Internet should read E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops. It is a chilling, short story masterpiece about the role of technology in our lives. Written in 1909, it’s as relevant today as the day it was published. Forster has several prescient notions including instant messages (email!) and cinematophoes (machines that project visual images).