The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to kick back with the family, put your feet up and have a good old chill. What better way than to put on a film to enjoy? Sci-Fi is one of our favourite genres at Swifty, we love seeing the imaginative and futuristic transport solutions dreamt up in films. Of course at Swifty, we love creative vision, particularly when it comes to vehicles!
So, to help with any disagreements about what to watch here’s a selection of some of Team Swifty’s favourite films that are essential viewing for transport buffs and mobility experts. All were ahead of their time and explored what the future of transport could be, some of them have done a pretty good job of predicting it and some have perhaps inspired the technology and vehicles we see in use today.
Back to The Future 2
Dir. Robert Zemeckis (1989). Set in 2015.
The Back to The Future Trilogy is an all-time family favourite, and one of the most iconic moments of the films is undeniably the hoverboard chase. Not only is this a cult classic it’s also one of the few films to look at the future of transport in terms of micromobility!
You may not remember that the hoverboard was actually transformed after Marty takes off the handlebars of a hover-scooter!
A lot of sci-fi films often go to extremes to dazzle spectators with grandiose portrayals of future cities, but seeing children zipping around on personal futuristic transport is something that is much closer to home! There are loads of little touches like this scattered throughout Back to the Future Pt II that make it great for family-friendly repeat viewings.
Hoverboards, of course, are not uncommon to see around, albeit a much more earth-bound version. But, the idea of a flying hoverboard is still one that’s captured many people’s imaginations. Take for example Franky Zapata’s Flyboard Air that he used to cross the English Channel in August ’19! We may be a while off the hoverboard vision of the film but we’re taking considerable steps towards it.
Dir. Paul Verhoeven (1990). Set in 2084.
Who can resist a bit of Arnie in the holidays? We’ve all seen ‘Elf' far too many times, so why not switch it up and revisit this memory twisting sci-fi thriller.
Again, Total Recall is a film packed to the rafters with futuristic inventions and gadgets that we’ll all be using by the year 2084. One of the features that puts this film way ahead of its time is the ‘Johnny Cab’ an autonomous taxi with an automated driver that you direct using voice commands. For 1990 this was a somewhat dystopian vision, but today the autonomous vehicle is fast becoming reality.
With autonomous vehicles commanding billions of pounds of investment by the automotive industry, perhaps their portrayal in Total Recall could give quite a frightening prediction. Hopefully, in reality, they won’t be so temperamental, or creepy!
With Alexas and Google Homes now commonplace in most modern homes voice command technology is increasingly the norm. Even when you’re driving you can dictate your reply to a text message, all these were exciting and futuristic concepts when the film was made.
Driverless cars themselves are a reality too. You can buy cars today that will watch the road to keep you in lanes, help you switch safely and take action if there are any hazards in the road quicker than a human could. With these technological advances, a car that can travel without any human assistance is no longer just a far-fetched idea.
Dir. Ridley Scott (1982). Set in 2019.
Future of transport? Flying cars! A good range of films have portrayed flying cars on the big screen but few have come close enough to make them feel as real as they do in Ridley Scott’s dystopian classic, Blade Runner.
With the film working equally as a statement on the future of our current society, flying cars in the film only seem to be available for either the wealthy elite or members of the police force. A quick look for any versions of flying cars in real life nowadays shows that the closest we’ve got is going to cost an arm and a leg for the average person. An example of this is the AeroMobil which is available to pre-order. Technological advances are great, but first and foremost they’re going to be available for the rich before any mass solution is brought for the public to enjoy.
While we’re not there yet there are active steps being made towards making the concept of flying cars not one of fiction! Elements of the cars are very present in aerial transport today, namely the vertical take-off. So it might not be too long until we need to look right, left and up before crossing the road...
Dir. Steven Spielberg (2002). Set in 2054.
Another film to prophesise the idea of the future embracing driverless cars is Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report. Set in 2054, Washington DC is shown as a megacity crammed with people in all directions.
The film, for the most part, seems to steer away from the idea of cars in a traditional sense, the mass transport of people around the city is done in ‘pod’ type vehicles that work entirely autonomously. All hurtling along the futuristic highways the pods seamlessly slot and weave between each other avoiding any crashes. This allows for fast, safe travel that means problems like traffic jams are a thing of the past - imagine! The idea of all the computers talking to one another and corresponding is, of course, something that is now commonplace in our day to day lives within almost every level of technology we own.
The pods themselves in recent years are becoming a reality, even though the industry is in its infancy. The pod design is more focussed on prioritising spaciousness and accessibility for the user.
Another forward-thinking idea presented in the film is the way in which the pods aren’t restricted to a single plane. Roads are both horizontal and vertical, cars crawl around the sides of the building in order to take you directly to your flat. While this may be far from reality for us now, utilising vertical parking in order to make the most of the space in our busy cities is something that is not uncommon to see.
Dir. Luc Besson (1997). Set in 2263.
Another sci-fi classic that is packed with flying cars is Fifth Element. In Luc Besson’s film in contrast to Blade Runner sees flying cars as the norm of the future with stacks of them populating the gaps between seemingly a never-ending cityscape.
It presents flying cars as banally as can be. People are still stuck in traffic jams, still queuing for drive-through McDonalds and still getting taxis as we do today. It doesn’t see much change in the design of cars either once they take to the sky.
The mysterious ambience, iconic costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier and star performances from Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich make Fifth Element a cult favourite.
The Spy Who Loved Me
Dir. Lewis Gilbert (1977). Set in 1970’s
Is there anything more synonymous with Bond than his cars? Each new film throws us a new concept of what your typical Aston Martin can do. A favourite of the Swifty team has to be The Spy Who Loved Me’s Lotus Esprit submarine car though. What starts like a classic bond chase quickly turns into something altogether more exciting once Roger Moore sends his Lotus off the end of a jetty, only for it to transform and be just as deadly underwater.
The idea of an amphibious vehicle was not necessarily a new one when the film came out in 1977. But the seamless nature of the switch between land and sea was something that was far from a reality. Today, however, this is not the case!
Interestingly a great deal of the real-life versions of amphibious cars seem to be a direct result of the film too. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has expressed interest in making a real-life version of the submarine car, after buying the original at an auction in 2013 and claims to have a design. There is a convertible version of the submarine car that you can get your hands on for only $2,000,000 (scuba tanks provided) which allows you to go up to 75mph when in water.
If $2 million is a bit too much and you’re not bothered about taking your car under the water you can also an amphibious car for under $200,000. It allows you to go over 55mph on land and up to 44mph on the water. The film not only predicted this desire for easy multi-terrain travel but also spearheaded it by looking so good in the film.
Dir. George Miller (1979). Set in ‘The near future’.
Sci-Fi without robots and tech are less often to come by, but the original Mad Max (and the other 3 films in the franchise) are brilliant examples. Again plunging us into a dystopian vision of the future this is a world less concerned with wooing you through fancy special effects but rather with high-octane action.
A lot of what is shown in Mad Max I hope does not come true, I don’t really fancy my chances in the Thunderdome. However, the messages the film communicates is becoming increasingly more real. The film was made at the same time as the 1970s energy crisis when many western nations suffered petroleum shortages. Mad Max was a prediction of how life on earth could become if we don’t stem the global dependence on finite fossil fuels.
While a lot of the films on this list look to the future of transport as a pristine and ‘relax while the machines do it for us’, Mad Max reminds us that for all the advancements in technology, the combustion engine will still feature in our future for years to come.
Also, if you're less of a Mel Gibson fan, and Tom Hardy is more up your street, then the 2015 remake is also highly recommended!
Dir. Richard Marquand (1983). Set ‘a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away’
You could almost make this list out of Star Wars films alone. Every film in the franchise is packed full of inventions and gizmos, of which many may well become the reality of our futures. If we're getting technical, then these films are not set in the future, but in a 'far away galaxy a long time ago' but we decided Star Wars is still worthy of this list. A favourite of ours has to be Speeder bikes chase of Return of the Jedi, which is one of the few sci-fi scenes in this list to features trees and nature, so gets bonus points in my book!
Flying cars we have mentioned, but the idea of a creating a hover-bike is something that has remained in science-fiction until the team at Aerofex took it on a few years ago, perhaps the hover-bike will be a reality of our futures!
2001: A Space Odyssey
Dir. Stanley Kubrick (1968)
You simply can’t have a list of sci-fi films without 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s built a legacy of one of the best and most influential films ever made. Again it was an extremely visionary film for its time. Released just 2 months before man landed on the moon it touched on concepts that we still dream of today.
Stanley Kubrick clocked onto the idea of commercial space travel or space tourism years before it started becoming a real conversation. The first real-world ‘space tourist’ Dennis Tito didn’t reach orbit until (bizarrely) 2001, 33 years after the film was released!
Today, Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Blue Origin and more are all looking at making commercial space travel a normal and viable reality. So, as in the film, it might only be a handful of years until we head off to our stay at the Hilton in space!
Ready Player One
Dir. Steven Spielberg (2018). Set in 2045
Ready Player One presents a whole new type of transport or lack thereof. The film, set in 2045, presents the idea that the real world is in such a dire state that it’s not of interest at all. It’s the digital world that everyone’s obsessed with and lives for.
In this digital world, you can travel anyway you like, if you can think it up then you can use it! What’s interesting about this is the amount of classic 80’s cars that are present in the film exhaustively listed here. It presents the idea that when you have every possibility at your fingertips sometimes you’ll still want to go back to the classics.
What you may also not know about Ready Player One is that Swifty actually made a special scooter to be in the film in 2016! Unfortunately to our dismay, it didn’t make the final cut but was a great project to be a part of anyway, and we had an awesome day seeing behind the scenes at Warner Brother Studios, when we went to deliver it. You can check out the special edition, jet powered scooter HERE!
There are tonnes more of examples of films predicting the future of transport years before the ideas are starting to become a reality. It just goes to show that if it can be dreamt up to be in a film there’s no stopping it from being created in reality.
Let us know in the comments some of your favourite future tech seen in films, and what you’d like to see in real life!