Fifty years after Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell’s novel, published 1949) and Fahreneit 451 (Ray Bradbury’s novel published 1953) Equilibrium, directed by Kurt Wimmer, explores the future of antiques, vintage photographs and oil on canvases.
“Equilibrium is set in 2072 in Libria, a city state established by the survivors of World War III that devastated the world, where a totalitarian government requires all citizens to take daily injections of “Prozium II” to suppress emotion and encourage obedience. All emotionally stimulating material has been banned, and “Sense Offenders” – those who fail to take their Prozium – are put to death, as the government claims that the cause of all wars and violence is emotion. Libria is governed by the Tetragrammaton Council, led by “Father”, who is seen only on giant video screens throughout the city. At the pinnacle of Librian law enforcement are the Grammaton Clerics, who are trained in the martial art of gun kata. The Clerics frequently raid the “Nether” regions outside the city to search for and destroy illegal materials – art, literature, and music – and execute the people hiding them. A resistance movement, known as the “Underground”, emerges with the goal of toppling Father and the Tetragrammaton Council.
Most of the filming used locations in Berlin, due to its unique mixture of fascist and modern architecture. According to the visual effects supervisor Tim McGovern, who worked alongside Kurt Wimmer, the fascist architecture was chosen “to make the individual feel small and insignificant so the government seems more powerful”. In addition, the modern architecture of Berlin emphasizes the futuristic and stolid appearance of the city-state of Libria. Libria’s thick walls are represented by an abandoned fortress-like East German military base, while the exterior of the city, where many of the surviving rebels reside, was filmed in decrepit neighborhoods of East Germany. In addition to the geographic location, a few European art directors also made substantial contributions to the production.
Although making a science-fiction movie, Wimmer intentionally avoided using futuristic technology that could become obsolete, and he also decided to set his story in an indeterminate future. “I wanted to create more of an alternate reality than get caught up in the gadgetry of science fiction,” he explained. “In fact, there’s no technology in Equilibrium that doesn’t already exist. It’s more like a parallel universe, the perfect setting for a parable.”
The New York Times dismissed Equilibrium for having heavily borrowed from Fahrenheit 451, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World, and other science-fiction classics… ”