The best movie worlds beg to be lived in. These places have their own complex rhythms, internal logic, and intricate societies. They seem to be full of stories we will never know.
As a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and historical epics, I’ve seen a lot of great movie worlds (terrible ones, too). My favorites make me want to leap right through the screen and live out my own adventures there.
And yet… even if this were possible, would it be the smart move? To paraphrase Thomas Hobbes, life in most of these places would be “a poop-covered wrecking ball to the face.”
But I have to try! In the hypothetical, anyway. This is how I think life in some of my favorite movie worlds might play out.
1) Blade Runner
Big surprise, right? On this website so far, I’ve maybe written two posts that didn’t reference my favorite film.
Hey Walker, remember that time you never stopped talking about Blade Runner? Wasn’t that horrible?
Well, maybe. I promise to keep it brief.
Los Angeles. 2019. We’re only three years away, people! Get excited. Replicants everywhere, constant rain, lots of neon.
It would be fun for a little while. Maybe 24 hours. I could trench-coat walk through rain-soaked L.A. streets under the glow of red neon. The 1940s aesthetic would be fun. I could give every passing person the evil eye and wonder if they were human.
But what happens after that? The movie only shows the lives of replicants and the blade runners who hunt them. I’d probably get bored and try to break into Tyrell Corporation or Chew’s artificial eye lab. That would get me arrested, and since this is a sci-fi film and a film noir, I’d never get back out.
I’ll stick to rewatching this film on blu-ray. It’s the only physical media I still use.
2) Big Trouble In Little China
Oh yes, without question.
This puts me right back in Los Angeles, and again in Chinatown. Is that my thing?
It’s also the 1980s. No cell phones; that’s good. You don’t want to be checking Instagram when “the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake.”
Has there ever been a gutsier opening scene in a fantasy film? It doesn’t hesitate—we jump right into some Egg Shen lightening-hands magic. Message: You are going to have fun here.
But for this world to be any fun in person, I’d have to join Egg Shen’s crew of fighters. This group is amazing. A few get fried by the bad guys, but acrobatic kung fu keeps most of them alive.
Here lies the problem. I’m going to turn forty soon (last year, I think), and acrobatics might be hard to pull off—even with a Six-Demon Bag.
I’ll get shredded, pulled apart, or electrified by one of Lo Pan’s baddies. Or I’ll be slow and a giant cave shrimp will eat me.
For this world to be fun, I’d have to be dead from the start. So that settles that.
How do you avoid becoming one of those “double dead” souls that Barbara sees in the window? Avoid exorcism? Too risky.
4) The Adventures of Baron von Munchausen
Who doesn’t want to travel a 17th-century Europe of whimsical magic and Greek gods? A world in which the laws of physics are a mere suggestion? Where travel to the moon via hot air balloon is not just possible but easy?
But I don’t have any extraordinary powers (except knowing when pizza is near), so the Baron wouldn’t allow me in his troop.
That means I would be stuck in the town under siege at the beginning of the film. What a brutal government! The city manager executes the bravest soldier so that he can’t demoralize the ordinary ones.
This is also an overcrowded city without a public sanitation department.
That’s how dysentery sets in. Pretty common during that age. Do you know what dysentery is? The most delicate description I can offer is “going to the bathroom to death.”
The bathroom is your pants.
5) Star Wars
I didn’t want to include this one. Too obvious. But it’s unavoidable; a significant portion of my childhood played out in this universe.
I have to be realistic. My attempts at meditation haven’t gone well, which probably means the force is not strong with me. And I can get motion sick, so being a crack pilot is out, too.
That means I’m stuck with the ground troops. If you’ve seen the movies, you know how that ends.
Good or bad, it doesn’t matter. Dead.
6) Last of the Mohicans
A beautiful work. Never has a film so thoroughly transported me back in time. Every tree, every mountain, every soldier, every detail is perfect.
But the dysentery. Yeesh.
Did you know that 98% of all people in the 18th century pooped themselves to death? You could get dysentery just by looking at food or water.
Bears killed the other 2%.
8) Rob Roy
9) The Fifth Element
I might not die in this one!
Everyone in this universe seems goofy and befuddled and mostly happy. And the costumes! Unless you’re the genetically-engineered savior forced to wear those stupid bandages, you would look amazing. I need to consider this from a cosplay angle.
10) The Duelists
Toilet paper wasn’t even a thing until the mid-1800s. I just learned this.
So when you got dysentery, you couldn’t clean yourself between bouts of death-pooping. How’s that for dignity?
Consider that the next time you complain about the wi-fi.
You have toilet paper. And you don’t have dysentery.