Well, some way or another, I think each movie has a small part showing an ethical dilemma, or an ethics related problem. You can usually notice this when the character has to make a choice and they have to compare two or more possible courses of action.
But there are some movies with deep ethical connotations, that make us question a lot of human values. I made a list of the movies I considered relevant to the subject, but I got to over 30 of them so I decided to cover this matter in more than one post.
Today, I’m going to write about movies that are set in a distant future or post-apocalyptic kind of scenario.
Equilibrium (2002, Kurt Wimmer)
Welcome to a world of no human emotion. Only precise, calculated thinking and an acute power of reason.
The result? All wars coming to an end, with the certainty of eternal peace. But there’s an itsy bitsy problem. How ethical can it be to deprive someone of his or her feelings? Isn’t this a basic human condition? To feel?
Can this be real peace? Is it worth it to not feel love, or hate, or anger for the rest of our lives, to be devoured by numbness for the sake of peace?
Oh man, the pseudo-phylosopher inside of me is dying to debate this movie. Anyway, next on my list.
Blindness (2008, Fernando Meirelles)
I found out about this movie in my eternal-love-for-Mark Ruffalo period. Don’t judge me, okay?
It’s a story about a disease that gradually makes the whole Earth’s population blind. It’s not about finding a cure, nor about a hyper intellingent doctor that discovers a miraculous formula, nor about the chosen one (even if, yes, there is an immune person). This movie is meant to show us how easily human degradation can be caused, only by the loss of sight.
The ethical problems raised here are strictly connected to the survival instinct. It’s incredible what a virus like this can do to the world, and what dark and barbaric things are hidden inside of us.
The Road (2009, John Hillcoat)
This is the perfect example of what people can be capable of to satisfy those basic needs in the Maslow Piramyd. When you face a post apocalyptic future, where most people are dead and those who are still alive don’t hesitate to kill others for flesh, well, you’re kinda’ screwed.
But when you don’t fight for yourself, but for your kid, that might just be the extra motivation you needed to stay alive.
Is it legit to do anything to stay alive in this kind of future? Is it better to die with dignity, or is dignity not even a valid concept when it comes to survival?
A Clockwork Orange (1971, Stanley Kubrick)
One of my favourite movies ever. Reason one: Stanley Kubrick. Reason two: young Malcom McDowell. Reason three: the ultra-violence.
This movie is set in future Britain, with Alex being our protaginist. Due to his extreme violent nature, he’s put in jail, and after a while he’s chosen to participate in a programme that’s supposed to supress his delinquency.
The question is: are we allowed to change human nature? To “recalibrate” other people’s systems of values?
The Truman Show (1998, Peter Weir)
This movie is not necessarily set in the future, or in a post-apocalyptic environment, but I just felt that because of its deep ethical implications, I should put it in the first post.
Truman is a guy that grew up on a movie set, whithout knowing it. He is the star of the Truman Show, a kind of a social experiment. He is reasonably happy, he has a house, a job, so why should he bother?
Well, firstly, everything is fake. All his human interactions are scripted so that people at home will see his “natural” reactions to different situations. Secondly, he’s limited. His life ends at the edges of the movie set. And that’s when he realizes he’s basically trapped in a place he doesn’t want to be anymore.
I hope we all agree that these types of social experiments are the total opposite of an ethical mind.
The question is: was Truman’s happiness real, even if everything around him was fake? Is it worth it to have the certainty that most of your life will be good and normal, even if everything is scripted?