Fascism is Funny Too
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Sleeper (1973) - Woody Allen

Health food store proprietor Miles Monroe is cryogenically frozen and wakes up 200 years in the future.  The post-apocalyptic world is ruled by a dictator who rules the brainwashed masses through television.  Our unlikely hero falls in with a pack of rebels, and in love with one of the subservient citizens.  You know the drill.

And Woody Allen knows his stuff.  Two years prior to Sleeper he made Bananas, about a communistic utopia gone wrong, and two years after Sleeper he parodied the grandfather of modern dystopia, Dostoevsky, in Love and Death.

The visual design is most directly influenced by Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451.  The police truck and fire engine offer the clearest similarity.  Diane Keaton's character is modeled after both of Julie Christie's - particularly the vapid party scene.

Given that the entire genre of dystopia is based on parody, it's surprising that there haven't been more comedic dystopias.  On this list of 45.1, only half a dozen are comedies.

And while the other 5 (The Great Dictator, Heavy Weights, The Truman Show, Idiocacy, WALL·E) use humor to parody failed utopias, Sleeper instead parodies the genre itself.

1973 was very early in Allen's career, when he was looking to be a nebbish Groucho Marx.  There are a few throwaway political gags, but for the most part it uses the always-serious backdrop of dystopia to heighten the slapstick's absurdity.  Deliriously smashing pudding on the face of a burly guard?  Merely funny.  Smashing it on the face of a futuristic fascist stormtrooper?  Hilarious.

Sleeper is the 15th entry in my 45.1 Essential Dystopias list.