SURVIVAL: Provocative questions about environment and survival amidst the spectre of global collapse arise from Sundog, a recluse living in the Sonoran Desert.
Carmen Gray
Freelance film critic and regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: April 7, 2020

Published in 1933 just after the Nazis came to power in Germany, «The Shape of Things to Come» by sci-fi prophet H.G. Wells set out a vision of a future stretching into the start of the 22nd century. In the novel, benevolent dictators use their power to pull humanity up out from the devastation of a massive war and the threat of plague, paving the way for a peaceful utopia in which citizens are enlightened super-talents who no longer need them to oversee and command their lives, and national divisions are abolished. The spectre of modern civilisation’s collapse and the struggle of isolated survivors in the wake of catastrophe fired the imaginations of numerous sci-fi greats that followed. It‘s a preoccupation that has become entwined closely with non-fiction, as climate apocalypse looms and mass displacement of refugees is fuelled by conflict and resource shortage. Yet, as world leaders fail to act and ultra-nationalist populism rises, the wise wielders of power that Wells so optimistically envisaged seem all but an outlandish fantasy.

The fringes of capitalism

The title of documentary A Shape of Things to Come, co-directed by J.P. Sniadecki and Lisa Malloy, recalls this thematic territory of large-scale strife and fanciful conjecture over the best recourse for human survival. But in feeling out just one idiosyncratic, dreamed shape, it makes no claim to offer a definitive, overarching picture of what may await us. Rather, in our world of fragmented tribalism, we find an aging, anti-establishment misfit guarding a hideaway beyond capitalism’s fringes, as the oppressive hand of the state becomes harder to ignore.

His is an insular, individualistic lifestyle almost hedonistic in its insistence on the primacy of simply enjoying being

Sundog is a sixty-year-old white man with a long, straggly beard living in the Sonoran Desert. We accompany him in some of his routines as he lives off the land, hunting wild animals and cooking them on an open fire, scavenging and as he puts it, simply «enjoying life on planet Earth». We’re never quite sure how he came to be here, other than an aversion to a …

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