Cult Classic ‘The Apple’ Offered an Insane Vision of the Future That Never Was
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The mere title of the film strikes fear into the hearts of cinephiles everywhere: The Apple. We once included it in a list of 10 movies that are so bad, they’re amazing. (It was number one.)
Watch the trailer for The Apple (1980) below and see why:
As is always the case with notorious disasters, it wasn’t supposed to be like this. The Apple was intended as a serious film, a comment on mass media and morality and the future of mankind.
Instead, what we got was a hilariously awful disco-Bible-sci-fi mess, a trainwreck that is impossible to look away from.
The premise is simple enough: In the near future (1994, which was about 15 years after the film was made) all music is controlled by a single company, run by a single man. He pushes soulless stadium anthems on the populace, controlling humanity (somehow) though record deals. Onto the music scene wander two folk musicians — possibly siblings, possibly romantic friends, it’s never really clear — whose hearts and songs are pure. The music industry tries to corrupt them, there’s a vision of Hell, hippies get involved, there’s reggae for no reason, someone gets drugged and sees drag queens everywhere, and nothing makes any sense.
It is an endlessly entertaining film. At absolutely no point is it boring. Bizarre, yes; insane, sure; but never, ever boring.
The Apple has the fingerprints of its executives, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, all over it. They had just acquired The Cannon Group, a low-tier movie studio known for schlocky super-low-budget films. One of their trademark touches was blending genres and ideas that made no sense together, as in the movie Lifeforce, which was a vampire-space-apocalypse movie; or Masters of the Universe, a crazy blend of He-Man and soap opera.
But the movie also taps into a universal human impulse — curiosity about the future, and a drive to predict what might come. Most of the predictions of The Apple are way off-base. The year 1994 didn’t have stadium disco or ’70s station wagons with radar dishes or a confrontation between God and Satan (that we know of). But one detail that the movie accidentally gets right: in the future, we’ll select our pop stars through a televised vote. Weirdly, this movie saw American Idol coming from two decades away.
Predicting the future is a game we’ve been playing since before recorded history. Personally, I’m obsessed with cinematic predictions, most of which are hilariously off-base. Cinematic predictions from the 1920s are all fairly crazy by today’s standards, with the exception of women wearing pants. Gasp!
And there’s this vision of the future from the 1960s:
This one isn’t quite so far from reality. There’s a touch of accuracy to its depiction of the Internet: “a home post office … for written communication between individuals anywhere in the world.”
But it makes the same mistake that most of these fortune-tellers make: it foresees technological changes but not social changes. Hence the man is still the breadwinner and head of household; the woman is still the homemaker.
This next film doesn’t try to predict anything social but still manages to get the future wrong, with an absurd three-wheeled car and a bulky hunk of metal that looks like a child’s toy:
To its credit, the line about futuristic cars made of “aluminum plastic” isn’t totally wrong when you look at modern composite materials.
There’s also Monsanto’s “home of the future,” which is a far more domestic take on the pesticide-spewing Monsanto we’ve come to know today.
Of everything in this genre, my favorite might be Apple’s “Navigator” concept. It manages to predict Siri … kind of. The smart agent in the video is a lot smarter than the digital assistants we currently fight with.
I just asked Siri for the average lifespan of a porcupine, and she answered “6,500 quills.” Nice try, Siri.
And to be honest, given a choice between a robot-phone that misunderstands trivia questions and a disco-bible allegory, I kind of wish The Apple had come true before any of these other predictions.