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Schizo Tech / Live-Action Films

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  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is explicitly set in 1891, but casually shows tanks, vinyl records, and automatic pistols—20, 50, and 12 years before they were invented, respectively. None of the characters express any shock upon seeing them. Dr. Watson also at one point attempts CPR, or at least chest compressions, but either way it is an anachronism—the latter was described first in 1904, and the former not invented until the 1960s.
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  • The film Wild Wild West has Steam Punk technologies such as the steam-powered spider mech and non steam punk technologies like the metal collars and saw gun.
  • Superman Returns adopts a glamorous style reminiscent of the '40s, while implied to be taking place not long after the events of Superman II(which was set in 1980). It even says as much that it's set five years later. And then someone pulls out a camera phone.
  • The 1996 movie Hamlet with Kenneth Branagh.
    • The external guards in the beginning use polearms, the statue of the old King Hamlet wears platemail, and Norway is allowed to invade Poland without any alliance system protecting Poland, making it at least seem like medieval times. Then there are some old-looking guns inside the palace, making it seem like 17th century at least. Then there are steam trains, one way mirrors, and a globe with a complete map of Africa, making it seem like 19th century. Then there are electric lights, which make it seem like the 20th century.
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    • The 1996 movie is an explicit Setting Update to the late 19th century, when commercial electricity was first being adopted, mainly by wealthy elites and governments. 17th century palaces filled with antiques, guards with ceremonial weaponry (backed up by guards with modern weaponry) and old paintings and statues are still commonly found amongst European royalty today. The only thing that doesn't work is the invasion of Poland, which is an Acceptable Break from Reality given that the plot of the play (written in the 17th century and taking place most likely in the 13th century) cannot take place otherwise (that, and the fact that neither Norway nor Poland existed as independent nations in the late 19th century anyway—Norway was a dependency of Sweden until 1905, and modern Poland was formed from territories controlled by Germany, Austria, and Russia after World War I).
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  • In Tim Burton's Batman (1989), photographers rely on flash-bulb cameras, while Batman has a jet plane and a rocket car. Though this might explain why the Bat-Plane couldn't hit an unmoving target with no obstacles in between from about 500 meters away in ideal conditions with automatic fire.
  • Titus. Roman helmets, old-timey microphones, cornrowed glam-rock looking barbarians, oh my!
  • Planet of the Apes (1968). The Ape civilization seems to be on the level of ancient Rome, yet there's an abundance of semi-automatic weapons, plastic pens and high pressure water hoses. This is explained by the After the End setting, further fuelled by the Science Is Bad stance of the orangutans leading them to subtly manipulate what technology the apes have access to.
  • Dark City includes elements of this to reflect the fact that the city's builders just kind of yanked technology off of Earth for the city's inhabitants (humans) to play with. The makers of the movie did this simply to enhance the Film Noir elements of the movie. It also provides hints that the city is somehow displaced in time, which is kind of true.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Wookiees use advanced lasers and holographic systems, and still live in wooden treehouses in the middle of jungles. This is one of the reasons that Return of the Jedi used Ewoks instead - a technologically advanced Wookiee battle would be too expensive to create, and Lucas wanted the Empire beaten by a primitive race as a way of paralleling Vietnam.
    • Gungans have efficient force fields and energy grenades capable of taking out tanks, but as an aquatic species with little interest for the surface world they apparently lack land vehicles (their submarines, on the other hand, are very advanced) and weapons, so they had to mount the shield generators on elephant-like creatures and throw grenades with slingshots or by hand.
    • The wide variation in technology is somewhat justified in the Extended Universe, by virtue of the fact that all of the worlds were at various stages of technological development when they were contacted by the the Republic, or enslaved by the Empire. Limitations on technology reflect what the various cultures have been able to buy or steal, or what they've been permitted by Imperial occupation forces. After all, it doesn't make sense to give an enslaved people too advanced technology that they might turn around and use on you. Combine that with environments that can make primitive tech more useful or reliable than high tech, especially when it comes to the cost and difficulty of maintaining advanced tech vs. more primitive versions, and the infrastructures needed to do so; as well as belief systems that may limit certain applications of technology. There are numerous real-world parallels to this.
    • In the EU, it's mentioned that before lightsaber technology was perfected, the Jedi Order (or "Jed'aii" back then) used Force-enhanced steel swords while also possessing starships.
    • There's a Russian filk Krupp's Answer, laughing at the Painfully Slow Projectiles "Which your silly Jedi mock". It contains advice to visit a museum, "skip arquebuses", then "find Gatling Gun, sit next to piece, and meditate a hour on this device". As a corollary, the name's due to Epigraph referring to Krupp (who patented the wedge breechblock) standing in St. Petersburg Artillery museum and "thoughtfully looking" at a rifled bronze pishchal cast in 1615... with a wedge breechblock.
  • In Avatar, the RDA is capable of projecting live humans into the bodies of live Avatars, but can't remotely control assault helicopters or mechs, and said vehicles appear to be more at home in the twenty-first century, rather than the twenty-second. The latter is Justified according to the manual, however: all large materials need to be manufactured on Pandora, as the interstellar ships have limited capacity, and Pandora's magnetic flux vortex interferes with all sorts of technology. Also, the Avatars are horrendously expensive, and remote controlled vehicles *are* used - just not for combat and exploration.
  • In Jesus Christ Superstar Roman soldiers have swords, spears, submachine guns, tanks and jet fighters.
  • In the 1995 version of Richard III, most of the military equipment is of WWII vintage—except for a few modern T-72 tanks that appear in the final battle.
  • The Sci-Fi movie The Ice Pirates, a low-budget rip-off of Star Wars, features a Galactic Empire, FTL spacecraft, and warrior robots (and even something like a holodeck in one scene). But when the heroes and villains do battle, it's generally aboard ship or on a planet's surface with simple melee weapons, like swords and axes. There are virtually no ship-to-ship battles: laser cannons do exist, but they appear to be rare and inefficient, almost like single-shot muskets. It takes place in a Post-Apocalyptic galaxy, where civilization might have been at a higher level.
  • Much of Sucker Punch is in the form of fantasy/dream sequences, but in the bordello scenes, you still get modern music being played on vintage radios. And while a vivid imagination might conjure WWI Steam Punk zombies, where did she come up with the Humongous Mecha piloted by Rocket? Not to mention the modern helicopter and the automatic weapons?
  • By the end of Back to the Future Part III, the Delorean becomes a product of schizo tech thanks to the upgrades and mishaps through time travel: train wheels from 1885, the time circuits rebuilt from 1955 parts, the Delorean body and flux capacitor from 1985, and Mr. Fusion and the remnants of the hover conversion from 2015.
  • In the film version of The Hunger Games, the Capitol has such advanced, futuristic technology as energy shields, hovercrafts, and interactive holograms. The people of District 12, meanwhile, mine coal manually, hunt with bows and arrows, and, if the picture we see of Katniss's father is any indication, don't have color photography. Additionally, Panem seems to rely pretty heavily on trains, but there isn't a single automobile. (It's possible that cars have been completely replaced by hovercrafts, but this seems unlikely in the more impoverished districts.) These technological discrepancies are justified somewhat by the backstory, but they seem a bit extreme even so.
    • Also enforced in-universe with the Games themselves. The contestants are placed in a huge, force-field-protected arena, where every rock and tree is hiding a tiny camera, announcements are projected onto the sky, and bodies are retrieved via hovercraft—and forced to fight each other with swords, bows, and other weapons you could find on any medieval battlefield.
  • In Man of Steel, Kryptonians have developed guns, aircraft, and spacecraft but still use winged mounts as well.
  • In Walker, the 1987 acid western by Alex Cox, is a stylized biopic in William Walker, a filibuster who seized control of Nicaragua in 1856. To highlight the association with then-current events, the film becomes increasingly anachronistic. Modern magazine articles are shown writing on the film's events, and the climax features a helicopter extraction.
  • In Elysium Kruger essentially dual wields a katana and a force field.
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • In Jupiter Ascending, Ores looks like any number of bureaucratic facilities built in the early 20th century, staffed by splices and androids who ask for signatures in the form of thumbprints. In sharp contrast to House Abrasax's Crystal Spires and Togas look.
  • In Paddington, the Geographer's Guild has a pneumatic tube system for its archives, controlled by computer and obviously tied into an old legacy database system. (Which might seem redundant in an era when such archives are generally digitized.)
  • In Undersea Kingdom Atlantean technology includes "Volkite" combat robots with death rays, what appear to be anti-gravity bombers, earthquake machines and significant numbers of cavalry equipped with spears, as shown in excruciating detail for endless shot after endless shot of men riding horses.
  • The Prestige takes place in the 1890's and everything is at that level except the machine that duplicates/teleports people.
  • Fritz Lang's Metropolis shows stark aesthetic and technological contrasts between the surface city and the tower-dwelling elite on the one hand (bordering on Crystal Spires and Togas) and a very viscerally primitive working environment for the labor caste that maintains the city from an underground lair. This is highly symbolic given the film's themes, but the film implies that the contrast of hard labor underground maintaining a technologically wondrous utopia above-ground, may have been due to social engineering on the part of the Elites. Given that the film was made in the 1926, Zeerust and the appearance of Schizo Tech are inevitable in hindsight, for example, the antique-looking cars used by the city-dwellers, and the fashions of both the Elites and the Underclass of Laborers.
  • The documentary Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie ends with a Chinese propaganda movie of an atomic bomb being tested, followed up by gasmask-wearing soldiers doing a bayonet charge into the radioactive zone. There are even sword-wielding cavalry, riding horses that are also wearing gasmasks!


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