close first first image

Dystopian movies portray a society in which injustice rules. They represent the aspects, completely opposite to the utopian movies, in which the society is ideal. In dystopian movies, the majority in the society faces oppression and injustice, while few, who take control over everything, always have the final word in discussions of all important matters. There is no pretence of freedom and people have to carry the heavy yoke of brutality. The majority of people has to work extremely hard, but all the efforts are channeled to benefit those few in power. The citizens are brainwashed. There are people who frequently try to go against the grain in order to find justice, but they are severely dealt with and promptly eliminated. In reality the system is totalitarian.

Plot Summaries

The movie In Time is set in a society where people stop ageing at twenty-five years, and their longevity thereafter depends on how much time they have on a clock, which is on the display in their forearms. The time can be transferred from one individual to another when their bodies touch, and it is used as currency. The lives of people revolve around the amount of time they have left on their clocks, and when the clock hits zero they instantly drop dead. The rich in that society have a lot of time, and the poor struggle in factories to add just a little more time to their clocks. The two factions of society live miles apart in different time zones, and people call timekeepers restrict movement from one time zone to another.

The 1975 edition of Rollerball is another example of a dystopian movie. In this movie, Corporations have taken over the countries as the highest political entities. The Energy Corporation is one of such entities. The corporation executives have created a violent game, known as Rollerball the main purpose of which is to demonstrate “the futility of individualism” (Jewison, 1975). Jonathan, however, stands up to the challenge and in a brave move that almost costs him his life he sets out to prove the corporation’s executives wrong.

Similarities between Jonathan E and Will Salas

In the dystopian movie genre, the protagonist is usually an individual who has had enough of the oppression that the rulers take the people through and makes a deliberate decision to change the status quo. The protagonist is a person of a strong character and remarkable bravery, and he or she is usually ready to give what it takes to make things change, even at the cost of their own lives.

Comparing the Protagonists of Rollerball and In Time

Will Salas, the protagonist in the movie In Time, tries to go against the system. He seeks to bring equity to a system that has been corrupted by the injustices, crafted by the rich. In comparison, Jonathan, who is the protagonist of the movie Rollerball, attempts to go against the grain in order to beat the system. Instead of bowing to the pressure that the executives put on him to retire Jonathan decides to stick it out to the end. His mission is to prove that a game cannot tame human determination and will. The protagonists of both movies, which is the case in dystopian movies, attempt to turn the tables and change the status quo.

In both movies, the protagonists face tremendous opposition to their quest. In the movie In Time, Will Salas not only has to deal with the risk of being apprehended by the timekeepers, he also has to cheat death at the hands of Philippe Weis, a rich businessperson in Greenwich. Philippe is a representative of the rich who would like things to remain the same, so that they can continue to unfairly benefit from the hard work of the poor. Similarly, in the movie Rollerball, Jonathan’s mission faces an exceeding challenge in becoming the greatest Rollerball player. The executives of the corporate want him out of the game by any means. They bend the rules of the game to make it deadly and unsuitable for Jonathan to play. The opposition Jonathan and Will face is a core characteristic of dystopian movies.

Both Jonathan and Will are the direct victims of the injustices of their systems. In the dystopian movie genre, the protagonist is usually spurred to action by a direct hit made by the social injustice. Jonathan and Will suffer from these direct blows. In the movie In Time, Will’s mother collapses and dies right in his arms. It is an event that affects him so much that he decides to take a step towards changing the rules of the system. In Rollerball, Jonathan has suffered the cruelty of the corporation’s executive rule once before. One of the executives snatched his lovely wife from him. Jonathan decides not to bow to the rules of the executives any more.

Another similarity is that both Jonathan and Will end their missions successfully. Will achieves success by robbing banks of time capsules and lavishing the time on poor people. The poor people can thence cross time zones without any restriction because they are rich In Time. In Rollerball, Jonathan also achieves success by beating the other team despite the hostile environment in which he plays. In dystopian movie nature, the protagonists usually end up successfully, despite the overwhelming challenges and opposition.

Contrast between Jonathan E and Will Salas

Despite the fact that both Jonathan and Will perfectly fit the description of protagonists in the dystopian movie sense, there are obvious contrasts in their characters. In the movie In Time, Will Salas’ aim is to make a direct blow to the system. His actions are directly aimed at bringing the cruel system to its knees. In contrast, Jonathan’s decision to continue playing Rollerball does not directly affect the Energy Corporation. However, its backlash may accomplish that task. The whole idea is that people will draw strength and confidence from Jonathan’s example. They will, thence, start doing things that reflect their belief in individual effort. They will begin to have confidence in themselves, being aware that they can beat the overbearing corporations.

Another difference between the two abovementioned protagonists is the way they accomplish their tasks. Both Jonathan and Will aim at beating the system, but they achieve this by different means. While Will sets out with the burden of poor people at heart, Jonathan sets out to prove a personal point. Will’s aim is to deliver the poor people from oppression; Jonathan’s is to deliver himself. Eventually, the effect of what they do is to weaken the position of the oppressor in the society, even though they have different means to reach this end.

How Jonathan and Will Defy Stereotypes

In the movie In Time, Will defies the stereotype that the rich are immortal (Niccol, 2011). He ventures into the palace of a millionaire, Philippe Weis, who, by the virtue of the wealth he has, is supposed to be immortal. Definitely, all his family members are expected to be immortal because they all have a lot of time in their hands. However, when Will kidnaps Sylvia Weis, Philippe’s daughter, a robber Hamilton waylays them. Hamilton steals all of Sylvia’s time, save for thirty minutes. This, in effect, proves that the rich are not only mortal, but also vulnerable to both the good and evil forces that operate in this world to keep things in check.

 Secondly, Will comes from the poor community of Dayton and the residents of Dayton live by oppressive stereotypes that are created by the rich in order to keep them in check. One of the stereotypes Will defies is that the poor are not worthy enough to enter the territory of the rich. Will manages to get into Greenwich despite the tight checkpoints. He also beats the timekeepers, who are the people who ensure that others do not move freely between time zones.

In Rollerball, Jonathan sets out to defy the stereotype that individualism is futile. In spite of the spirited attempts by the executives of the Energy Corporation to bring him down, he eventfully stands out. He proves to be ‘greater than the game’, which is what the executives of the corporations tried to prevent. The corporations’ sole purpose for creating the game was to prove that no one could be greater than the game (Jewison, 1975). Jonathan proves otherwise.

He makes a brave move by refusing to bow to pressure revealed by the corporation’s executives. Jonathan has been a victim of the autocratic nature of the ruling class once before. An executive had snatched his wife from him, and he had been provided with a concubine as a replacement of his wife. He chooses not to oblige to the wishes of the executives. By this act, he defies the stereotype, set by the executives of the corporation, that corporations have the final say in making decisions about the fate of people. The executives, on their part, succinctly fulfill the role of the autocratic leadership that characterizes dystopian societies by going out of their way to make the rules of the game so unfair that they lead to the death of many people.


The movies In Time and Rollerball are perfect examples of dystopian movies. They are both acted out in settings where there is a minority of people who live lavishly at the expense of the majority who live in astounding squalor. Both movies put into perspective the injustices that take place in dystopian societies. The protagonists of the abovementioned movies effectively play their roles to bring out the true nature of dystopia and they go the full length to defy the stereotypes created by their antagonists

Need more Comparison Essay Examples?

Related essays

  1. Comparing Two Cultures
  2. Do Men or Women Make Better Leaders
  3. A Manager and a Leader
  4. UCR and NVS Crimes