A filmstrip with images from films on the subject of smart homes
Film stills: Quotations according to copyright law § 51
2024-07-01 VDE dialog

Filme: Utopia meets dystopia

Smart homes can also be found in films and TV shows – often in passing as a backdrop for an actual science fiction storyline, but sometimes also as the main motif of a future that’s usually less than desirable. Here are a few examples.


In the family movie Smart House, thirteen-year-old Ben wins a smart home. But when the boy installs a “mother” update on the home’s computer to scare off one of his father's admirers, it takes on a strange life of its own. The Lexikon des Internationalen Films – a German compendium of film reviews dating back to 1945 – was rather hard on the film's vision of the future, however, calling it “ridiculous and implausible speculation”.

Smart House / USA / 1999


In the French film satire My Uncle, Jacques Tati, alias Monsieur Hulot, struggles with the high-tech equipment in his brother's house. However, the brother himself also suffers at the hands of the new technology, which locks him in the garage when the wagging tail of a dachshund activates a light sensor. The film was Tati's greatest success and won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1959.

My Uncle / France / 1958


Wallace and Gromit are the main characters in several British claymation films. One is an eccentric inventor, and the other is his four-legged best friend. The functionality (and lack thereof) of the machines Wallace develops is a major component of each film's plot. Whether it's a smart bed that wants Wallace to get dressed on his own after waking up or a robot that’s meant to prepare breakfast, most of the time, things just go wrong.

Wallace & Gromit / UK / 1989-2005


In the German arthouse near-future thriller The House, a smart home transforms from a peaceful refuge for its residents into a dangerous adversary with its own agenda. At first, journalist Johann Hellström (Tobias Moretti) says to his wife, “The house doesn't have a will of its own. It acts based on our data.” But he eventually has to admit: “The house no longer responds to us. It does what it wants.”

The House / Germany / 2021


The Netflix series Black Mirror has been a hit with viewers around the world thanks to its dystopian tales of the near future. The episode “White Christmas”, for example, features a smart home that is controlled entirely by a cute, egg-shaped AI called Cookie. What makes Cookie special is that it’s a digital twin of the user and therefore knows her preferences very well. The scary part: the twin has its own consciousness.

Black Mirror / UK / 2011


In the movie Her, a highly developed operating system called Samantha plays a crucial role. However, the fact that it aids the somewhat lonely writer Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) by managing household parameters like lighting, room temperature and communications with other connected devices is only mentioned in passing. The focus is on the budding love affair between Theodore and Samantha.

Her / USA / 2013

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