It’s hard not to compare Black Mirror, due to its resounding success, to Philip K. Dick’s new series Electric Dreams, based on the works of Philip K. Dick, which deals with similar themes. But from the outset, it is clear that the two are very different in the way they make the viewer think about the world and their lives.
Electric Dreams, already in the first episode, called “Real Life,” shows its difference by having in its cast famous actors like Anna Paquin and Terrence Howard (even veteran Steve Buscemi appears in subsequent episodes). Once we recognize the actors, the bare reality, which is effectively captured in Black Mirror, becomes a bit more fanciful.
This aspect is neither negative nor positive, just different. The genres of science fiction and fantasy are very close and often films are classified as the two to avoid error. But they are different. The genre of science fiction, also called Sci-Fi, always deals with how science and technology affect the lives of human beings. We are usually transported to a future world where we have to learn by observing how the characters deal with life in this scenario.
Fantasy, however, transports us to a world of dreams, or nightmares, and does not necessarily contain advanced technologies. When we are transported to this new reality, the issue is not to learn new technologies in an alternative life, but rather to enter a world of adventure and surprises that make us feel like heroes (this is why Star Wars is considered more a fantasy film than science fiction – even the advanced technology in the universe joins with the magic of force).
While Black Mirror is clearly a work of Sci-Fi, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams seems to incorporate fantasy, being a mixed of the two genres. The episode “Real Life” shows, right at the beginning, the protagonist Sarah (Anna Paquin) walking through a city already incredibly conquered by flying cars and futuristic architecture. We do not have time to stop to think about the place and understand the technology. We can only enter the alternative world and wait for the adventure to follow. Even photography and music style contribute to this, being familiar to subgenres already known in the cinema, such as detective.
Even so, there are points very similar to several episodes of Black Mirror. For example, Sarah is transposed into an apparent virtual reality in which she becomes another person in an attempt to improve her mood. However, this other character that Sarah becomes, George (Terrence Howard), is so authentic that it is difficult to know what the reality is. That is, you do not know which character really exists.
Instead of wondering about the effect of this technology on the world and how we would deal with it if we were in the place of the protagonist, we took our attention to unravel the secrets of this adventure passed by Sarah. At the end of the episode, considerations about the psychology of the human appear, giving to the series also a doze of science fiction. Thus, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams is like watching Black Mirror with a dose of fantasy.
(This article original language is portuguese. This translation was made with Google Translate)