June 10, 2023

Cinema’s Best Mind-Controllers


Hypnotic is a mind-bending thriller starring Academy Award winner Ben Affleck as Danny Rourke, a detective searching for his missing daughter, who finds himself falling down a mind-bending rabbit hole, as he uncovers secret government operations to control the minds of the unsuspecting public. To mark the UK cinema release of Hypnotic, we take a look at the most iconic characters in movies that pull the strings of people’s minds using a click of their fingers or a stir of a teaspoon…

A Clockwork OrangeThe Minister of the Interior

This 1971 classic takes place in a dystopian future in Britain, where an authoritarian government forces Alex DeLarge, a vicious gang leader, to undergo experimental “aversion therapy” to remove his criminal tendencies. The Minister of the Interior, who oversees the experiment, is determined to medically “cure” criminals to free up space in prisons. In one iconic scene, a drugged Alex is strapped to a chair with his eyes held open, forced to watch scenes of violence until he becomes sick. Still a gripping and disturbing watch today, A Clockwork Orange explores the severe ethical consequences of government intervention into the human mind, even when motivated by the desire to create a society free from mindless violence.

Star WarsObi-Wan Kenobi

In this iconic sci-fi flick, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) trains with his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) to become a Jedi and control the Force, a mysterious metaphysical power, so he can help defeat the tyrannical Galactic Empire. One of the Force powers Obi-Wan demonstrates is the Jedi mind trick; with the wave of their hands, Jedis influence the thoughts and actions of the “weak-minded”. We see Obi-Wan use a Jedi mind trick to convince a suspicious stormtrooper the droids that were accompanying them, R2-D2 and C-3PO, “[weren’t] the droids [they were] looking for.” That line remains a favourite quote of Star Wars fans to this day, a testament to how the Jedi’s powers can be both fearsome and subtle.

X-MenProfessor X

One of the most famous Marvel Comics characters, Professor X (Charles Xavier) is the founder of the X-Men. He is a powerful telepath – canonically one of the most powerful in the Marvel Universe. In the 2000 film X-Men, we see him face off against his former friend Magneto. While Professor X believes in a world where mutants and humans can co-exist, Magneto wants mutants to hold power over humans. In X-Men, we see his power is amplified by his Cerebro supercomputer, a device allowing him to observe and track mutants across the globe. Although restricted to his wheelchair, his omnipotent psychic abilities allow him to lead the X-Men wherever they are in the world.

ZoolanderJacobim Mugatu

In the hit 2001 comedy Zoolander (directed by and starring Ben Stiller), clueless fashion model Derek Zoolander is brainwashed to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell) is a fashion mogul irritated by the Malaysian governments’ new progressive laws against child labour, so he conditions Derek to perform the assassination when he hears song ‘Relax’ by the popular 80s band Frankie Goes to Hollywood. A satire on the excesses of the fashion industry, Zoolander not only highlights its real-life silliness, but sends it up to cartoonish proportions, making it a timelessly entertaining watch.

Get OutMissy Armitage

In Get Out (2017) we follow Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a black photographer who goes to visit his white girlfriend’s family and ends up being kidnapped in their body-snatching scheme. Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener), the family matriarch, manipulates people through hypnotherapy, facilitating the insertion of others’ consciousness into them while they are trapped in the “sunken place”. It is a mental state in which they are conscious, but unable to exert any control over their own body. While Chris is able to take on the other family members easily to make his escape, he finds an unexpected obstacle in his girlfriend’s mother, who can knock him out with just a clink of her teaspoon. Get Out is a modern horror classic and a timely exploration of contemporary US race relations.

Hypnotic will be in UK Cinemas 26th May.

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