Top 10 Clone Films
Honourable mention #2 – The Boys from BrazilOne of the most bizarre films of the list, Franklin J. Schaffner’s adaptation of the Ira Levin novel centres around an attempt by seasoned Nazi-hunter Ezra Lieberman (Laurence Olivier) to uncover a sinister plot being hatched in Paraguay. Initially unaware of the true nature of the conspiracy, it soon transpires that infamous Auschwitz doctor Joseph Mengele (Gregory Peck) is the brains behind a scheme in the 1960s to impregnate 94 women throughout the world with the DNA of Adolf Hitler. The film did well at the box-office, and earned Olivier a record tenth Oscar nomination. A clone curio.
Honourable mention #1 – Judge DreddThis lacklustre Sylvester Stallone vehicle has an interesting premise, most recently updated by Pete Travis as Dredd. In the third millennium, the inhabitants of the world are living in Mega-Cities where justice is meted out by an organisation of ‘Street Judges’ overseen by a Council, all of whom have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner. Old Stallone is one of the street judges, but it transpires that he is quite special, a product of a program called ‘the Janus Project’. This was an attempt to create the perfect judges by mixing the DNA of the Council up and BAM, getting justice of every hue in one man. But, he isn’t the only one…
#10 – CloneMatt Smith and Eva Green team up pre-Dr Who and 007 in this bizarre picture about the consequences for love of the possibility of cloning. The film follows Smith and Green as they mix an intense love affair with a bit of serious political activism, their beef being the development of theme park along the lines of Jurassic Park using embryonic stem-cell technology or something. Anyway, everything goes wrong, Smith cops it, but not before freezing some of his DNA so that love can go on forever. Then things get very weird. Not for the faint of heart.
#9 MultiplicityHarold Ramis of Groundhog Day directs Andie McDowell again as the girlfriend of Michael Keaton, and Michael Keaton, and Michael Keaton… Very much a feel-good will-o-the-wisp film this, with charm certainly, and an entertaining premise of ‘What would happen if there were two of me, or three, or four?’ At the time critics were impressed by the seamlessness of Keaten’s multiple personalities as they were manifested on screen, and the film stands out as a light-hearted take on the consequences of cloning, with a dollop of sentimentality thrown in.
#8 ImposterAnother adaptation of a Phillip K. Dick novel, Imposter stars Gary Sinise as Spencer Oldham, a top-secret government weapons designer who is arrested by a clandestine government organization on suspicion of being a clone created by the hostile alien race wanting to take over Earth. Determined to prove he’s not got a nuclear bomb inside him, Sinise and his wife (Madeleine Stowe) escape from their interrogators and go on the run. The film has a little of the feel of Blade Runner, without much of the appearance. The ending is pretty explosive.
#7 Invasion of the Body SnatchersThis 1956 classic features a collection of cold, unemotional clones of the people of a small Californian town, planted there by aliens preparing to invade and conquer the world. Local doctor Miles Bennell receives a number of calls from various inhabitants of the town complaining that their wife/brother/son/sister is an imposter, much to Bennell’s disbelief. Flummoxed, he seeks advice from a psychiatrist friend, who assures him that it is a case of ‘nothing more than epidemic mass hysteria’. Cue a fascinating horror which also gives us insight into the group psyche of 50s suburban America.
#6 The PrestigeChristopher Nolan’s sumptuous tale of magicians and ambitions in fin de siècle London. Starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman as friends who become rivals for the glory of best magic performance on the stage, the film also has neat turns by Nolan favourite Michael Caine, and a cameo by David Bowie as reclusive inventor Nikola Tesla. A dark and serious piece, the film ends with a devastating twist that involves clones.
#5 Never Let Me GoDystopian sci-fi adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel of the same name, Never Let Me Go is the tale of an alternative history of Britain where most killer diseases have been eradicated and the human lifespan has been extended beyond one hundred years. The problem for the protagonists, Kathy H (Carey Mulligan), Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield), is that this miracle has been achieved through the use of clones whose organs are harvested for the benefit of their originals, and [SPOILER] the three of them are just such clones. A moving, if distressing examination of what it means to be human, and the ethical problems of cloning.
#4 MoonAn utterly beguiling quiet, intense and well crafted gem. Sam Rockwell gives a tour de force as astronaut Sam Bell, nearing the end of a three-year stint operating mineral extraction technology on the moon. His only company is computer GERTY voiced by Kevin Spacey. All is well, until a sudden physical deterioration strikes Rockwell and he makes a shocking discovery about his real purpose 238,855 miles from home. Directed by David Bowie’s son Duncan Jones in his cinematic debut, and possible masterpiece.
#3 GattacaAndrew Niccol’s 1997 sci-fi flick stars Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law as characters in a world where advances in genetic engineering have made it possible to select and develop children with the best traits of their parents. Those born having gone through this process are known as “valids” make up the privileged social class of this society, with the best jobs, lives and prospects. Everyone else is an “in-valid”, including Ethan Hawke, who happens to look quite like Jude Law, a crippled “valid”. Using Law’s identity, Hawke proves himself capable of achieving the same level of physical and intellectual fitness as the “valids” in the hope of making it to space, without being recognized by the authorities.
#2 Jurassic ParkSteven Spielburg’s screen adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel is one of the most famous clone movies because the clones in question are the prehistoric inhabitants of our world, the dinosaurs. The film packs a heavy dino-punch, featuring everything from the ferocious and kingly T-Rex, to the tiny yet deadly poisonous Dilophosaurus (the neck frill and its ability to spit venom are fictitious, disappointingly). Spielberg’s theme-parked beasts are probably the coolest clones on this list, justifying its position.
#1 Blade RunnerRidley Scott’s classic 1982 adaptation of the Phillip K. Dick novel ‘Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?’ features Harrison Ford as world-weary and burnt-out ‘blade runner’ Rick Deckard – a kind of marshal tasked with hunting down ‘replicants’ on earth. These replicants are genetically engineered organic robots whose use is banned on Earth: they are only allowed to be used on the off-world colonies. Scott’s film is often regarded as one of the best examples of the neo-noir genre, and cited for its production design depicting a future ‘prefabricated’ world. The big question though is: is Deckard replicant or human? The internet is not a good place to go to find answers.