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  1. Stick to chocolate bars

    A lesson learned from: ‘Soylent Green’ (1973)

    In the overpopulated New York of 2022, it’s hard to find a steak ­ or even a decent salad. Not to stray too far into spoiler territory, but we wouldn’t trust the latest miracle food product, Soylent. It’s green, yes, but not made of ‘plankton’.

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  2. Lie about your age

    A lesson learned from: ‘Logan’s Run’ (1976)

    Everything’s pretty sweet in your futuristic city of ‘Logan’s Run’, domed off from the elements. It’s a hedonistic paradise, but if your fellow citizens seem a little young, you’re correct: on the day you turn 30, you’re vapourised in the ritual of ‘Carrousel’.

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  3. Find a killer ride

    A lesson learned from: ‘Akira’ (1988)

    You survived World War III and the destruction of Tokyo. But when your city reblooms as Neo-Tokyo, it’s a violent place, filled with ominous psychics and cryogenic mishaps. Best to have a souped-up motorbike to burn rubber.

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  4. Keep your mouth shut

    A lesson learned from: ‘Planet of the Apes’ (1968)

    You’ve just landed on a world where apes do the talking and humans live a sullen existence in cages. Unless you’re gifted with hammy oratory like Charlton Heston, we suggest staying out of sight and keeping shtum.

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  5. Choose the red pill

    A lesson learned from: ‘The Matrix’ (1999)

    You could live out your office drone existence in ‘The Matrix’, but better to know the whole truth, right? Take a chance on Morpheus and you’ll see that your body is just a pod-encased energy source for the machines. Unplug and join the revolution.

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  6. Don’t chase strange boomerangs

    A lesson learned from: ‘Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior’ (1981)

    George Miller’s movie offers plenty of post-apocalyptic pointers, but this one seems most handy. If you value your fingers, it’s best not to try to impress your band of thuggish cohorts with your catching skills. Things could get messy.

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  7. Find someone to love

    A lesson learned from: ‘WALL-E’ (1981)

    Our emptied-out planet is reduced to a garbage dump in ‘WALL-E’, and you’re the robot left behind on cleanup. Wouldn’t life be better if you could pass the time with a svelte counterpart – even if it means simply watching over her like a mensch?

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  8. Maintain your edge

    A lesson learned from: ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (1971)

    Your punkish lifestyle is an active one: nights of the old ultraviolence, drinks at the milk bar, picking up girls in record shops. But whatever you do, don’t trust any scientists hoping to groom you into a model citizen.

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  9. Keep your memories private

    A lesson learned from: ‘12 Monkeys’ (1995)

    Viruses swarm over a sick Earth; you live underground in Philadelphia. Keep those boyhood visions a secret, or strange men in goggles will exploit you for time travel and endless conversations with a crazed Brad Pitt.

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  10. Rewrite the future altogether

    A lesson learned from: ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ (1991)

    Sure, the ruinous war against the machines is finally going our way, but why not make sure humankind comes out on top? If you’re rebel leader John Connor, send Arnie back in time to protect yourself.

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A survivor’s guide to movie dystopias

Future got you down? Feeling hunted, hungry or radioactive? We’ve picked the best tips from sci-fi movie dystopias. Keep this list in a safe place, alongside the extra ammo

Joshua Rothkopf
Written by
Joshua Rothkopf
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