Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dark Times: How Modern Films Shadow the World's Broken Faith in Humanity

I've always been a bit of a film buff. In my childhood days, I remember watching great films like E.T. and Apollo 13 on my tiny television in absolute awe. Classic films like these always managed to lift my spirits even in the worst of times. As the world around me was constantly going through dark times, I knew I could depend on inspirational films to restore my faith in humanity. Yet as the years have passed and I've grown older, I've discovered that as the world has grown darker, so have the films that are being produced in it.

What was once an industry of powerful, uplifting films has become something of a severe buzz kill. In fact, in the past few years I've noticed four box-office hits in particular that attest to the world's loss of faith in humanity. For those of you who haven't seen Avatar, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games, and The Avengers, here are some of the many reasons why these four films are a testament to our broken faith in humanity.


This science-fiction phenomenon was a visually breathtaking film when it came out in 2009, yet so many people overlooked its allusions to modern imperialism. The film takes places on another world where humans are reaping the resources of a foreign, untapped planet called Pandora. Because the humans have so severely depleted Earth's natural resources, they must retreat to outside planets to access things they need most, such as natural minerals. Sound familiar? Director and producer James Cameron confirmed suspicions that the film was a criticism of the United States' role in the Iraq war and use of warfare to resolve conflict, saying, "We know what it feels like to launch the missiles. We don't know what it feels like for them to land on our home soil, not in America."

The Dark Knight Rises

When I was growing up, Batman shows and movies were usually campy, funny, and entertaining. Yet Christopher Nolan's adaptation of Batman Begins in 2005 changed the very identity of the famed hero. All of the sudden, we saw a self-conflicted "dark knight" who was battling men who had absolutely no conscience or moral fiber. Previous Batman villains we'd seen were more humanistic, self-conflicted, and sad, but figures like Heath Ledger's Joker and Tom Hardy's Bane completely emphasized just how dark the world around them has really grown. In the final chapter of the Batman trilogy – The Dark Knight Rises – we see a man who has literally had everything taken from him: he has lost the love of his life, the world despises him, and he might be forced to die in order to restore order and humanity to Gotham. It's most certainly a darker variance from previous Batmans, and I can't help but think that harsh modern times have something to do with that.

The Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins said the idea for her famous trilogy actually came from channel hopping on her sofa. Collins was flipping through the channels one afternoon when she realized just how juxtaposed the channels on her television really were: on one network she would see chronicles of New York housewives, but on another she would see violent footage of the Iraq War. Collins' Hunger Games brilliantly testifies to just how obsessed the world has become with accessing the "reality" of the world they live in. The film itself takes everything a step forward from the book and becomes all the more dark. In the box-office hit, we see a young, brave girl who is thrown into a ring and must battle 23 others in a fight-to-the-death match – all the while the world is watching her on television. The Hunger Games is an allusion to just how disillusioned the world's concerns have become. Why should we care about watching what celebrities do in their everyday lives? Shouldn't it matter more that there are starving people on the streets? Obviously not.

The Avengers

Can you imagine a scenario where things in the world have gotten so bad that it takes six superheroes to fight off the present evil? Growing up, I saw films where one brave man or woman could usually get the job done. Now we're seeing films where people must desperately turn to every superhero known to mankind in order to save themselves from the wrath of evil. I suspect that if things hadn't gotten as bad as they were now, people would be better able to believe that one man or woman could make a difference, but as we've all grown to learn, one man or woman standing in the face of evil can easily be pushed aside.

These are just four of the many films out there that attest to how dark the world around us has become. Take a look at some of the modern classics hitting the big screen today and don't be surprised when you discover just how dark they really are.

Barbara Jolie is a full time freelance writer and blogger. She is passionate about lifelong learning and online education. When Barbara is not blogging about all things education, she enjoys spending time with her calico cat, Moses, and her pet parakeet. If you have questions email her at

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