|Equilibrium Fan Article
by Shawn Novinger
Influences in Equilibrium
Now, most anyone who has
seen Equilibrium can say, at some point or another during the film,
“Hey! That’s familiar!” Yes, it most likely is. Kurt Wimmer (the
director) made excellent use of a wide array of influences to make this
amazing movie work so well. Almost all forms of art – be it film,
written, painting, or otherwise – have been seamlessly woven into the
story, to make it seem very real. If you have something to compare an
idea to, it becomes all the more possible in your mind.
interesting thing about the influences of Equilibrium is that they
don’t follow how most films are influenced. Some things that the film
uses are only a few years older than the film itself. If a movie these
days is going to be inspired by something, it usually takes from the
past (For example, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Sin City, and
Dick Tracy. These films, though based somewhat in the present/future,
all have an ambiance characteristic of films in the 1940’s/50’s).
To maintain some
form of organization, I’ll break this down into subheading-ed sections.
films can be stated as influential in Equilibrium, I’ll only point out
a few (primarily because they’re the ones I’ve seen).
The Matrix – Equilibrium’s graphic
novel style filming can be compared heavily to that of The Matrix.
Certain shots are almost identical. Also, the martial arts fight
sequences are reminiscent of The Matrix, and an assortment of other
action films. Musically, Equilibrium is similar to The Matrix, as well.
Not very much, but enough.
Judge Dredd – Post apocalyptic waste
lands, corrupt government, rebel fighters, the best officer on the
force rising up to fight for the people…Both Equilibrium and Judge
Dredd share these plot points, and both use them well. However,
Equilibrium takes the ideas on a more serious path, whereas Judge Dredd
was filled with required Stallone and Schneider humour.
Blade Runner – The key things that
Equilibrium borrows from Blade Runner are a dark future, and the
noirish detective story theme. Otherwise, Blade Runner deals with
robots, and Equilibrium with overturning a government.
Total Recall - "Also, one thing
maybe worth noting is that I borrowed from one other film ...Total
Recall - one of my faves. Preston's journey is identical - the true
believer who is used to unwittingly infiltrate the underground...”
Kurt Wimmer said
the above on the CHUD message boards (1). Though a fairly
vague film comparison, the underlying idea is quite clear in both films.
Soldier – Bred to kill, and taught
to feel nothing, soldiers can make perfect killing machines; One-man
armies. The idea for the Clerics of Equilibrium could be taken almost
directly from this. Trained in various martial arts, studying the
fighting habits of past enemies, the Clerics are virtually unstoppable.
The only book I
wish to touch upon here is George Orwell’s 1984. Startling in the time
that it was written, and even today, 1984 deals with the idea of a
Totalitarian government system that really does control everything.
Maintaining clear segregations between and within classes, controlling
what the population does and does not know, erasing history to make
things seem perfect, even restricting entertainment. However, those who
control everything are able to indulge in the things they restrict:
alcohol, books, films, entertainment overall. In 1984, one entity is
displayed as a loving sibling, watching over the public, making sure
they stay in line, making sure they’re safe: Big Brother.
makes heavy use of the ideas in 1984, using a third world war as the
explanation for why everything changes. The government that is so
adamant about people taking Prozium seems to be “off the dose”
entirely. DuPont himself, Father’s right-hand-man, has paintings in his
office. Not very Librian of him, is it?
also, seems to be a reference, unintentional as it may be, to Big
Brother. However, as siblings can tend to be rough on each other, the
Father figure is often a symbol of care, and punishment only when
Everything boils down to religion. If “Father” was an accidental
reference to Big Brother, it was a completely intentional reference to
God, in all His forms (2). Loving of all,
yet completely vengeful when one breaks a rule. A figure to look up to
and respect, yet fear at the same time.
Tetragrammaton name and symbol also have heavy religious backgrounds.
The name of “Tetragrammaton” refers eventually, when one goes through
all the Judaic reading, to God. The symbol is made up of four T’s,
forming a sort of cross.
cross itself has always been a religious staple, signifying greatly
holy things. However, as it has become more apparent, not all religion
is either basely pure, or at least as pure as it used to be. So,
although the Tetragrammaton symbol may have stood for something just,
and pure at the point of its inception, it’s name has been, unbeknownst
to the Librian public, tarnished by years of governmental corruption.
“Clerics” of Libria. Defenders of Father’s Will. Keepers of the peace.
Above the normal police force, the Clerics are charged with picking out
Sense Offenders, and convicting them. The term “cleric” in today’
society refers, most often, to priests, or members of the clergy. These
men also serve a “Father”, but they don’t kill.
The idea of EC-10
rated material in Equilibrium (or “Entertaining content”) can be
closely tied to such things as the RIAA, or the MPAA (3).
Both of these organizations seek to, in one way or another, limit what
the public sees and hears. Not necessarily to hide them from the truth
or entertainment, but to censor certain messages which can be deemed
too graphic, or crude, or inappropriate. In the case of the RIAA, music
is often edited to take out any profanity, or sexually graphic lyrics,
to allow children to listen without picking up too many bad habits.
With the MPAA, films are reviewed and changed to make a scene of
violence or sex less graphic, in order to fit into a certain ratings
concept is that of completely destroying anything which could give
someone the idea of feeling an emotion. If we can’t read a book, we
can’t be touched by its message, or learn from what it has to say.
The aesthetics of
many of the buildings in Equilibrium seem to come directly from the
canvasses of Hugh Ferriss (4). Ferriss’ art
deals largely with hard-edged buildings, functional and bland, yet
eye-catching nonetheless. The designs of the buildings in both Ferriss’
art and in Equilibrium are so static that one must look (5).
The history of
many governments also seemed to influence Wimmer’s Librian government.
The Totalitarianism is reminiscent of Nazi Germany, or Communist
Russia/Cuba/China, perhaps even Korea. The hidden over-indulgences of
government members is also not simply restricted to what we see in
movies. Purchased officials, members of parliament paying for sex, or
drugs, or even both. These are the real world equivalents of the
paintings in DuPont’s office, his quoting of Yeats, the ornate samurai
swords on his desk, the clear, uncovered view of the city through his
Also, the Tetragrammaton cross, and the flags flowing behind the
holographic image of Father are very similar to the Swastika, and the
Nazi flags used during World War II, though unintentional, the idea is
As Wimmer pointed
out, the Clerics are based on interesting ancient warriorhoods (6).
Primarily Japanese in execution of attacks, and overall fighting
styles. The unwavering devotion to the leader hints at ancient samurai
groups, who would kill themselves if asked to by their leader.
Also, Gun Kata is
an interesting fighting style, taking influences from a great many
different martial arts styles (7). Adding guns to
the mix is an interesting twist which hasn’t been seen very much.
Overall, the city
state of Libria appears very Nazi Germany inspired. Red flags
emblazoned with the Tetragrammaton “T” fly everywhere; the buildings
stand tall and stern; armed guards patrol the streets, keeping a
watchful eye out for offenders. Although the general feel could be
because the film was shot largely in Germany, many things were put in
the film for effect. Instead of doing what Exit Wounds should have done
(take out the CN Tower from the background), Equilibrium adds in
heavily suggestive visuals of past controlling governments/governmental
However, even with
all of the influences mentioned above, and with many more still going
unsaid, Equilibrium manages to stay its own movie. The combination of
ideas creates a new idea, which stands completely individual.
So, with all this
in mind, why not look for more influences? They’re almost never-ending,
and it has been fun to try and spot them along the way. Watch the movie
with a well read/film oriented group of friends, and you’ll have quite