In honor of “Year One,” I’ve decided to dig up five movies that tell just what happened in the years after. If IMDB is to be trusted, “year movies” will be a trend in the next few years. There’s Roland Emmerich’s latest vision of the apocalypse, “2012,” along with “1066” (the Norman Invasion of England), “1777” (A pretty big year for the American colonies) and “1906” (The San Fransisco Earthquake). Date titles aren’t just the new hotness however. Just look at these, all of which came out long before 6/17/09…
If you want to get really technical about history, “10,000 B.C.” actually occurs before — long before — “Year One.” When you’re counting the ancient B.C. years (as opposed to our ongoing A.D.) you count backwards. As this film featured woolly mammoths building pyramids, swords well before the Bronze Age and fantastical geography, it’s not as though it’s really 10,000 B.C. anyway. I’m just going to pretend this one happens simultaneously with the “Year One” cavemen who stumble into the Old Testament stories, and you should too.
Now we fast forward from ancient history to the conquest of the New World. Or “Paradise.” Whatever you want to call it, Ridley Scott’s film tells the story of Christopher Columbus (Gérard Depardieu) and those famed sailing ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. This Columbus is a sympathetic and enlightened guy, a man who tries to govern Spain’s new territory diplomatically. History tells a very different story of course, but since when has history stopped Hollywood? Watch “1492” purely for Adrian Biddle’s gorgeous cinematography and Vangelis’ stirring soundtrack.
Now we’re smack in the middle of the modern world — and a world war no less. It’s hard to believe, but Steven Spielberg ventured into World War II long before “Saving Private Ryan” with this wacky cult comedy which centers on a Japanese plot to destroy “something honorable” in the days after Pearl Harbor. They decide on Los Angeles. It’s actually based on a real 1942 attack, but Spielberg’s version is pure madness. What kind of madness, you ask? A very rare kind indeed, featuring Jon Belushi, Ned Beatty, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Robert Stack, Warren Oates, Toshiro Mifune, Christopher Lee and Slim Pickens.
The year 1984 didn’t exactly come and go without George Orwell’s terrifying vision coming to pass; after all, that’s when the film adaptation was released! The specific calendar year has never really been the point of story anyway, though it serves this list well. The Thought Police can exist at any time or place… and some say they already do. This one is difficult to summarize but is a must see (and a must read), especially for you “V for Vendetta” fans out there.
The future, as seen in 1968! Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick envisioned the year 2001 as a place where consumer space travel, orbital stations, moon bases and sentient, homicidal computers would be the norm. Well maybe not that last one, but such are the dangers of putting your life in the hands of an artificial intelligence. Kubrick specifically was limited by the styles of the time in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” with humanity’s future dressed primarily in Nehru jackets and mod clothing. We also apparently evolved from tool-using apes into star children with a little help from a mysterious monolith… but you know, I’d be happy if we could just get the comfy space travel part down.