Films have long been blamed for inspiring copycat crimes. However, they also have the ability to predict future events and scientific developments. For example, face transplants and attempts to clone extinct species, which once seemed only possible on the big screen, have now become scientific possibilities. As you will see in this piece, writers and directors have also foreseen dramatic love stories that have come true in real life.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Stanley Kubrick’s classic film, based on novel by Anthony Burgess, was blamed for several copycat acts of violence in Britain following its premiere in 1971. The film focuses on the adventures of Alex (Malcolm McDowell), a young man who takes pleasure in extreme acts violence. One of the most famous alleged copycat cases was that of a gang rape in which the perpetrators sang “Singing in the Rain”, supposedly mimicking the actions of the main character in one of the film’s most notorious scenes.
Besides featuring many extravagant stunts and fanciful shootouts, this action movie, starring John Travolta and Nicholas Cage, also raised the issue of face transplants. The topic seemed a little farfetched when the film was released in 1997, but just eight years later surgeons performed the first partial face transplant. Five full face transplants have been completed since 2010, with the latest taking place in Poland, where surgeons operated on a man who had been disfigured in a work accident.
Jurassic Park (1993)
This science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg tells of the consequences of bringing dinosaurs back to life. In the film, genetic engineering company InGen clones dinosaurs using blood found in prehistoric mosquitoes preserved in amber. Almost 20 years after the release of the film, a group of Russian scientists announced plans to try to clone a mammoth using traces of blood and tissue found in a prehistoric carcass discovered in Siberia.
Back to the Future Part II (1989)
This classic 1980s film is a rich source of material for those who like to see if futuristic inventions predicted in films have actually come true. While the main premise of time travel is still a distant dream, many aspects of Marty McFly’s trip to 2015 have already been realised. For example, video-phones and cars running on biofuel are now widely in use, while Nike released a pair of self-fastening trainers in 2008.
Natural Born Killers (1994)
This Oliver Stone film, based on a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, examines the issue of the media’s fascination with acts of violence. It tells the story of a couple, played by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis, who go on a violent killing spree in New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada. Just a year after the film’s release, an Oklahoma couple carried out an alleged copycat shooting in which the friend of bestselling author John Grisham was killed. Grisham later accused Stone of having incited violence.
This classic fairy tale, written by Frenchman Charles Perrault in 1697 and immortalized in film by countless directors and animators, tells of a love story between a prince and a commoner. In recent times, the story has become reality for two women who have found their very own prince charming. Journalist Letizia Ortiz married the heir to the Spanish throne Felipe, Prince of Asturias in 2004, while Argentine investment banker Maxima Zorreguieta wed Prince Willem-Alexander of Holland in 2002, with the pair becoming king of and queen of the country in 2013.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, this film tells the story of friendship that develops behind prison bars. The film ends as one of the men manages to escape by tunnelling his way out of the prison. The guards eventually realise that he had been using posters of scantily clad women to hide his escape route. A strikingly similar case actually happened in December 2007, when Otis Blunt and Jose Espinosa escaped a prison in New Jersey by removing blocks from their cell wall and covering the hole with posters of bikini models. However, unlike the main protagonist of the film, they were eventually recaptured by the police.
Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)
Weekend at Bernie’s was one of the most popular comedy film’s of the 1980s. The plot revolves around two friends who upon discovering their boss’ dead body, use the corpse to enjoy the trappings of his glamorous lifestyle. A gruesome echo of the film was heard in the case of a two American men who rolled their dead friend through the streets of New York on an office chair in an attempt to cash his US$355 benefits cheque in 2008.
This futuristic comedy film predicts that by 2505 consumer society will have transformed human beings into race of extremely low intellect. Despite being set 500 years into the future, the film is actually a fierce critique of modern-day American culture. The film makes reference to a TV show called “Ow! My Balls!” which involves the programme’s host being repeatedly hit in the testicles. Current television hits such as Jackass can already be seen to have sections similar to this fictional show.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
At first this film, starring Jim Carrey (Joel) and Kate Winslet (Clementine), appears to be a straightforward story in which the two main characters fall in love after meeting on a train. However, we soon discover that they were previously lovers and that they do not remember this because they have payed for a special procedure to erase all their memories of the earlier relationship. Five years after the release of the film, Dutch scientists announced the creation of a controversial tablet that is capable of erasing traumatic memories and helping patients overcome phobias or obsessions.