Do Movies of the Past Predict Cars of the Future?

Still from Back to the Future II

Remember when the year 2015 seemed far enough in the future that flying cars and elevated “roadways” were a distinct possibility? Heck, I remember the clock switching to 1990 and wondering when the first car would magically elevate from the pavement.

One of the things I’ve found entertaining lately is paying attention to movies set in the not-so-distant future and then laughing at the many depictions of society and the vehicles it uses. If we predicted the future purely through the lens of filmmakers of the past, we would have had spaceships capable of traveling to Jupiter by 2001, transforming robot vehicles by 2005 and sky-roads by 2015.

I’m sure those filmmakers would have been terribly disappointed at the time they made their movies to learn that vehicles would still run on rubber firmly attached to terra firma in the first couple decades of the 2000s. Keep reading for a few of their visions of the future, which in many cases are years that we already call history.

2001, A Space Odyssey

2001, A Space Odyssey

This classic Kubrick film was made in 1968, so setting the film 33 years in the future and including a spaceship on its way to Jupiter probably made sense. Obviously the real 2001 didn’t quite match Kubrick’s vision, but maybe in another 33 years…

Transformers, The Movie

Transformers, The Movie

The 1986 cartoon was set far in the future, when cars and trucks were just the hidden identities of alien robot warriors. The future date of the epic battle between Autobots and Decepticons? 2005.

Back to the Future II

Back to the Future II

Set in 1985, 1955 and 2015, Marty McFly must manipulate events from the past to make sure the future unfolds as he wants. In this case the future included hoverboards, flying cars and skyway systems. “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!” Too bad Doc’s prediction won’t hold true.

I, Robot

I, Robot

Made in 2004 and set in 2035, this interpretation of the future actually stands a chance at coming true. Audi developed the electric RSQ concept specifically for the film. The vehicle drives itself and run on spheres instead of conventional wheels and tires. Also, the “door of the future” has evidently been changed from gullwing to butterfly. Sorry, DeLorean.

What other films depict cars of the future? Think any are close to reality?

-tgriffith

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3 Comments

  1. In “2010” the sequel to “2001”, the cars seem to be electric or turbo-electric, which is not unrealistic. There where turbine-powered cars in the 1960’s and have been electric cars since the 1800’s.
    The problem with movies is that future cars are expensive props in movies full of expensive props, so you tend to see a lot of manufacturer’s concept cars (ex. Demolition Man, A.I.,) and often cars or trucks are current models with sound effects, but most often we see lots of plywood over Pinto chassis.
    Post-apocalyptic films like the Mad Max series often show current vehicles with added systems such as steam engines. “Blade Runner” did an excellent job of showing futuristic vehicles, mostly electric, along with flying cars which looked like they were based on Lotus Esprit bodies, as well as retro-fitted current production cars.

  2. For sure, eaton! I didn’t include just because it was set around 300 years in the future… but definitely a good choice. Pretty cool flying cars!

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