In the previous article of this series we talked about the book "Brave New World" and its relationship with the real world, now we will talk about Equilibrium, a fascistic world in which feelings have been declared illegal.
While Aldous Huxley imagined a world in which humans have only superficial emotions, in Equilibrium emotions are, as I said earlier, completely eliminated. In order to achieve such a thing people use a drug, much like the "funvax" proposed to the Pentagon which would, if used, significantly diminish the "religious" fervor of people exposed to the genetic mutation.
We will see that emotions are usually a target in most "dystopic utopias", the reason being that strong feelings make people unpredictable and encourage in them creativity, the need for justice, the need to "feel" the world. On the other hand, they are also the reason why some people do destructive things because, if uncontrolled, emotions can cloud the judgment.
In a way, "Brave New Word" is more centered around education and preconditioning while Equilibrium takes the battle on the emotional front. Humans become simple working machines however we may want to put it. In both cases, the elite, the leaders, enjoy a free and normal (for our standards) existence. Some of the elements the book (Brave New World) and the movie (Equilibrium) both have in common are: uniformity, social engineering, totalitarianism, drugs, the new world came into existence after a violent conflict, the existence of an elite which is not subjected to the same rules and laws, lack of/diminished knowledge of the past.
We clearly see the "ideal" of uniformity when the cleric (John Preston, played by the great Christian Bale) rearranges his desk after observing that everybody lives identical lives. His actions are looked upon with suspicion by his partner and facing his curiosity he says he only wanted to optimize. It's interesting how only he, who stopped taking the drug, had the need to "optimize" because it's not like he started to sing love songs or anything, just wanted to rationally improve his working environment.
Through social engineering I am referring to the act of purposefully changing the behavior of a group of people (a society) in order to achieve perfect integration with an imposed master plan. In Equilibrium this is done primarily with the drug and secondly through the use of more standard methods of manipulation like the omnipresent voice (and face) of the "Father" which acts like some sort of God for which a warrior-priest class works.
Totalitarianism, a concept which is here almost as redundant as in Brave New World (where it would make absolutely no sense). Here people don't enjoy that artificial and superficial happy life, in fact, in Equilibrium to be happy would be something illegal. It would be intriguing to have a bunch of individuals with no emotions making only rational decisions, however this is definitely not the case. Once again, the democracy where someone else tells you what to choose is not a democracy.
The drug in Huxley's book gives people intense emotions of happiness and satisfaction while the drug in Kurt Wimmer's movie does the opposite in the sense that it eliminates any type of feelings. Substances which can control people in such ways (both ways) already exist.
Global war and/or conflicts are usually presented as leading to some kind of changes. This is actually a historical and political reality and looking in retrospective with a global perspective we find links between the First World War, the League of Nations, the Second World War, the UN, the creation of Israel, conflicts in the Middle East, and so on.
Knowledge, and more exactly knowledge of the past, is heavily controlled in most places on the globe even now with all the developments brought by the internet. This control can either be direct, like in China and North Korea or indirect like in America and Europe.
I strongly recommend you watch this movie and if you have already seen it, please leave a comment with your opinions.