A documentary in German (available in French, too)
George Orwell and Aldous Huxley - two visionary science fiction authors whose lives crossed paths at an early age. The masterpieces "Brave New World" and "1984", published more than 70 years ago, are red-hot especially today, in times of alternative facts, fake news and constant surveillance.
Data storage, fake news, designer babies, the massive use of antidepressants - today's reality has almost caught up with yesterday's fiction. More than 70 years ago, two writers had already warned of such developments in "Brave New World" and "1984."
The similarities are so striking that "1984" was once again on the bestseller lists in the United States after the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America.
Aldous Huxley and George Orwell proved to be brilliant visionaries of the future. The two Englishmen were contemporaries: Huxley was born in 1894 in Godalming in Sussex and Orwell, whose real name was Eric Blair, in 1903 in Motihari, India. Their lives crossed at the famous Eton College, although they came from two completely different worlds: Huxley came from a British intellectual dynasty, while Orwell had grown up in poor circumstances. Orwell read Brave New World shortly after its publication and sent his novel 1984 to Huxley immediately after its publication. The latter then wrote to Orwell that he considered his novel "of fundamental importance," but that the future could not be reduced to a politics of sheer violence - to a "boot in the face of humanity." In other words, Huxley felt that his vision of the future was the more likely one: a "perfect" dictatorship built on scientific methods, in which individuals are programmed for purposes of domination so that they willingly serve and even love their slave existence. In Orwell's case, on the other hand, totalitarianism controls thoughts and purposefully employs lies as well as permanent surveillance. Are the different nightmarish future scenarios of Huxley and Orwell due to their different lives? And do we live today rather in the world from "1984" or in the "Brave New World"?
Documentary by Philippe Calderon and Caroline Benarrosh (F 2017, 54 min)
Science fiction is the fiction of ideas. Ideas excite me, and as soon as I get excited, the adrenaline gets going and the next thing I know I’m borrowing energy from the ideas themselves. Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn’t exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible.
Imagine if sixty years ago, at the start of my writing career, I had thought to write a story about a woman who swallowed a pill and destroyed the Catholic Church, causing the advent of women’s liberation. That story probably would have been laughed at, but it was within the realm of the possible and would have made great science fiction. If I’d lived in the late eighteen hundreds I might have written a story predicting that strange vehicles would soon move across the landscape of the United States and would kill two million people in a period of seventy years. Science fiction is not just the art of the possible, but of the obvious. Once the automobile appeared you could have predicted that it would destroy as many people as it did.