They Live (1989)
They influence our decisions without us knowing it. They numb our senses without us feeling it.
Carpenter’s low-budget thriller follows the vagrant Nada (Roddy Piper), who discovers a pair of sunglasses capable of showing the world the way it truly is. As he walks the streets of Los Angeles, glasses on, Nada is horrified at the blunt subliminal messages being transmitted through media, advertising and government at every turn. Hilariously outrageous, shlocky and wearing its B-movie aesthetic on its sleeve, They Live heaps lively political and social commentary into its capitalist critique. If you’ve wondered if your phone is listening to you, grab your sunglasses for this film.
Past Futures curatorial notes —
What futures were past filmmakers imagining for our present world? And did those sci fi prophesies come true? All dreamers and designers start from a place of deep imagining.
In Past Futures we look at imagined dystopias and utopias that made their way into the collective conscious – into the design of now – and consider what might be in the making to come.
What worlds were filmmakers of the past envisioning for today? Which of these past-futures have materialised in shades of our lived realities? What do modern utopias and dystopias look like? Can cinema help us collectively design a world we want to see?
In curating this series my co-curator, Michelle Carey, and I considered the future worlds that filmmakers were envisioning in the past. In our selection you’ll find distinct visions from pasts that vary in length from way back to cinema’s silent beginnings, to just a moment or two ago.
The curated titles awakened a curiosity in us by way of each film’s aesthetic and philosophical design, some quixotic and wildly ambitious, others comparatively domestic while still suggesting a collective turn in consciousness or new ways of seeing and being. Our present is very much felt and reflected in these past futures.
What future visions are we projecting on screen, now?
Creative Producer, The Capitol
Action, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Screenwriter: John Carpenter
Cinematography: Gary Kibbe
Editing: Gib Jaffe, Frank Jimenez
Music: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth
Art Direction: William Durrell Jr, Daniel Lomino