Title:  Code 46

Release Date:  2004

Nationality and Language: UK/China, English

Running time: 92 min

MPAA Rating:  R

Distributor and Production Company:  United Artists/BBC/Revolution

Director; Writer: Michael Winterbottom, wr Frank Cottrell Boyce


Cast:   Tim Robbins, Samantha Morton, Jeanne Balibar

Technical: HDCAM Cinemascope format  SDDS Digital

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First, a “Code 46” violation is an illegal conception—you got it, in a futuristic society that has tried to create a kind of Spartan social utopia in a dying planet. The term somehow makes me think of “FDCPA violation” (for debt collectors).


What fascinates me about this movie is the visual encyclopedia of a world reduced to simple social hierarchy. The well-off and privileged or established live in cities, but only with permits. The proles like in the desert—yes, the world has pretty much turned to a Sahara because of global warming. The remaining cities shown—Shanghai and Dubai, look splendid in smog, and were filmed on location.


The “story” itself is less compelling. An investigator, William (Tom Robbins) travels from his family enclave in Seattle to Shanghai to look into a fraud and, of course, falls into a forbidden love affair. It gets explicit in spots, as in one scene where you find that Maria has removed her body hair—all of it, as depicted quite literally and deliberately. Like there is some kind of ongoing humiliation as a price for social membership. Out of doors—on the outside—there is a visual feast, of deserts laced with superhighways and squatter camps, some of them apparently filmed in India. There is an implied social commentary in one place about the poverty of much of the Muslim world. The film is quite hypnotic with its manipulation of landscapes, cityscapes, colors, saturation and hues.


I have authored a treatment myself, called “Prescience,” which might become a novel or screenplay. After an alien invasion, survivors have escaped to a second Earth a hundred or so light years away where there is one inhabited Atlantis-like continent. There is a top social caste of young adults that is allowed full use of technology and self-expression. People are expected to mature into family-formation, in a ring of suburbs. But there is no fiat money, only a “treasury of merit.”  But you can get kicked out, and then you are exiled to the countryside, where you can have capitalism if you want—and the battle is to catch up technologically before the second Earth is destroyed by an approaching Brown Dwarf.  Getting kicked out is both a profoundly pleasurable and catastrophic experience. Funny, though, real art and music, however homemade, are flourishing only in the countryside. Then there is the question of body art.


Anyway, this film comes kind of close. 







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