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Teaching dystopia: the ULTIMATE list of great dystopian short films for middle and high school

Updated: Aug 17, 2019


When teaching dystopia, the first thing I explore is the six key elements that crop up in my dystopian stories:

  • Suppression of individuality

  • Excessive control by a governing body

  • Fear of the outside world

  • Seemingly perfect setting

  • Use of propaganda to control, and

  • Protagonist rebellion.

The short films that follow explore at least four or more of these:


2187

Synopsis: A short film about a man living in a futuristic society who carries a flower with him in a briefcase. This link to the past makes him a target for the police who have marked him as wanted. Once they find the flower and seize it, the man is no longer considered to be wanted.

Length: 2:38

Dystopian elements explored:

  • Suppression of individuality

  • Excessive control by a governing body

  • Use of propaganda to control

  • Protagonist rebellion


Hyper-Reality

Synopsis: A short film that makes a comment on the impacts of technology on our lives. Juliana is a teacher who cannot find work and instead buys groceries for other people. She can change her identity if she wishes though and initiates an identity reset twice during the film. There's a shot that may be inappropriate to your students at 2:54 and 5:16 so check before showing your class. I usually just show my classes up to 2:52 and then 3:33-5:07 so that they understand the gist of the story.


Length: 6:15

Dystopian elements explored:

  • Suppression of individuality

  • Excessive control by a governing body

  • Fear of the outside world

  • Seemingly perfect setting

  • Use of propaganda to control

  • Protagonist rebellion

The Luckiest

Synopsis: A man is bombarded with messages from a futuristic version of a Voice Assistant (similar to Alexa) who justifies every single decision he makes and encourages him to continue his poor choices like social media and unhealthy food addictions. She provides him with information about anything he could possibly need to know about, which stifles his natural human instincts.

Length: 5:15

Dystopian elements explored:

  • Suppression of individuality

  • Excessive control by a governing body

  • Seemingly perfect setting

  • Use of propaganda to control


The Last Job on Earth

Synopsis: In a futuristic world, automation has replaced almost every single job. One girl still manages to keep her job and we watch her go about her day, noticing the devastating impacts of automation on the people in her city.

Length: 2:52

Dystopian elements explored:

  • Suppression of individuality

  • Seemingly perfect setting

  • Use of propaganda to control


So, what do you think? Have you taught any of these previously? I'm thinking of turning this blog post into a dystopia post mini-series so let me know if you have any questions or comments down below.




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