One good thing about entering an economic downturn: a new dystopic classic from Frank Miller is undoubtedly around the corner. Miller has created three titles set in separate dystopic futures: Ronin, Hard Boiled, and Give Me Liberty.
I recently spent some time re-reading some of my favorite Frank Miller works. These are some of my favorite favorites. I don’t know where he gets this stuff from, but it makes me smile inside when I see something on CNN that looks something he made fifteen years ago.
I recently learned that Miller frequently has his characters attacked in the groin area.
Some dark futures, although fantastic, exceed their believability. The Mad Max world is just unrecognizable from our own. The same goes for most post-WMD apocalypses, be they germ/zombie- or nuclear-oriented. Most films just generally fall flat in this department, lacking either credibility (“Where did all that sand come from?”), story (See Planet of the Apes), or both (See Class of 1999).
Miller’s worlds are believably scary. Take Ronin for example. Set in the midst of a global economic depression that has spanned much of the 21st century. All you see of the world in Ronin (1983) is small parts of what is left of midtown Manhattan; this world has devolved to exhibit little difference from thirteenth century Japan. If anything, this world is more savage. Again, maybe it is the medium, but I believe the tones of these stories challenge the vocabulary of the screen.
In Give Me Liberty (1990), Miller depicts a less fantastic world, set much closer to the present. He shows us a close-up view of a Chicago housing project though the eyes of a young woman named Martha Washington. To call this existence grim is to understate the obvious. Washington has to dress like a boy to avoid getting raped on the way to school.
Needless to say, Miller wrote this story after he left DC.
Like the world of The Watchmen, in Give Me Liberty Congress has repealed the 22nd Amendment, allowing the President of the United States to continue to be re-elected after two full four-year terms. Our armed forces are engaged in conflicts across the globe. Corporate greed and the avarice of the ruling class are destroying the nation.
It may be coincidence, but it is on the on the heels of periods of economic hardship like the one we are in now that Miller has created his darkest worlds.