The name might not grab you, but the story of the film Mortal Engines is one our future-centric society would do well to pay attention to.
Based on the series by author Phillip Reeve, Mortal Engines is set hundreds of years after civilisation has been destroyed by a catastrophic event. Landmark cities have morphed into giant predators on wheels, with London a rogue world power destroying everything in its path. Ruled by the wealthy and egotistical Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), London is being used to accumulate resources for his own cause, aimed at shoring up the world’s future. It’s not until the mysterious young Hester Shaw emerges, that Valentine’s plan is threatened.
Shaw teams up with fellow misfits – engineer Tom Natsworthy and dangerous outlaw Anna Fang – and the trio lead a rebellion questioning the intentions of their leaders, and whether dismissing the past is the best way to move into the future.
Mortal Engines makes you wonder, ‘What if the next generation don’t care about us? What if they destroy the groundwork we laid?
Creating a brand new world on screen, Mortal Engines is beautiful to look at, revealing the influence of Producer Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit), but grounds itself in the tension between past, present and future.
We’re taught to believe the next generation will be wiser than us, and that our current decisions must have them in mind—but Mortal Engines makes you wonder, ‘What if the next generation don’t care about us? What if they destroy the groundwork we laid so that they could learn and create for themselves?’
It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as engineer Tom laughs at our obsolete “screen age” and how we used language, but it is worth pondering what future generations will find puzzling about our present day.
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A Chat With the Director
Speaking with Laura Bennett, director Christian Rivers said that, much like in Mortal Engines, he thinks they’ll ask: “how could a civilisation that was so scientific destroy itself?”
“We sort of battle that every day [with] the decisions we make …we have these patterns of behaviour [and] habits we feel we can’t shake because it’s too hard to, but we need to keep thinking of better ways to do things and better ways to treat each other,” said Rivers.
Instead of leaving us feeling deflated at what could be though, Mortal Engines is about offering hope.
“Hester finds a life beyond death and self-destruction though love, and [reminds us] that despite the terrible things the world throws against you, the people who can rise up and challenge it can come from the most unlikely of backgrounds,” Rivers said.
Mortal Engines is rated M, and geared for teen and adult audiences with some violence and dark sci-fi themes.