The Top-Rated Surveillance-Themed Movies and Shows of All Time

Are you still not sure yet about your upcoming summer flick? For film buffs, movies or TV shows exploring the loss of privacy and surveillance have slowly but steadily become the subject of interest.

Perhaps, it’s something that most folks enjoy watching, but then given the technological era that we live in, it might help you gain some tips to help you look over your shoulders. There’s no denying that surveillance is gaining momentum across the globe today, but the fact remains that the concept is not new. In fact, over decades it has been explored on the screen.

When it comes to movies and shows, surveillance has been depicted in a plethora of forms such as portrayals of dystopian and peering into someone’s window. Those are things that featured on-screen several decades ago but still seem too present.

Fortunately, they are all surveillance stories only presented in a realm of fiction – but one thing for sure; they’ll keep you glued onto that screen of yours.

So, just grab your popcorn, snuggle up next to your loved one, and sit back; for your ultimate entertainment or even some education to help you look over your shoulder.

Here are the top-rated movies and shows of all time that deal with surveillance and privacy:

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

It’s without a doubt one of the best surveillance fiction movies that you can think about. In fact, it’s considered as the grandfather in relation to the dystopian genre.

Despite the fact that it was released only a few years after World War II, Nineteen Eighty-Four has been the spine of several other movies for decades now. This movie by George Orwell is simply a seminal work and as time goes by it becomes even more relatable – simply put, it was a futuristic-like movie.

It features themes of war, nationalism, propaganda, censorship, futurism, and most significantly surveillance. It has remained influential over years inspiring hundreds, if not thousands of other works with its best adaptation being the Michael Radford-directed version that stars John Hurt as Winston Smith.

Smith, like the other citizens in Oceania, has little privacy and his existence is constantly scrutinized by the Police. Most Oceania homes have a telescreen (a device that functions like a television, recording device, and security camera). Therefore, the government watches as well as records anything as they want.

It’s more of the current versions; Alexa, Google Home, and Siri that constantly listens to you, right?

Snowden (2016)

It’s not difficult to see why Snowden made the cut. In 2013, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor (Edward Snowden), leaked information to the press about the mass surveillance actions of the government.

The movie commences with Edward meeting The Guardian representatives in Hong Kong over the release of the classified information. The movie then backtracks and goes over the life of Edward Snowden as well the actions that led him to that fateful decision.

The movie features more action than storyline, but it highlights a significant modern privacy history. Along the way as a security subcontractor, he learns several invasions of privacy, such as implanting malware into the government computers of targets as well as surveillance programs that offer real-time information.

The movie, despite not being a horror movie, is the scariest given the fact that it’s entirely factual and everything is based on real-life events.

Enemy of the State (1998)

Was someone in Hollywood a little too close to the truth? Released just over 10 years prior, it’s difficult to watch the movie after the Edward Snowden 2013 revelations.

In the movie, an NSA official meets the US Congressman to ensure that the new bill that increases surveillance powers is pushed through. However, when the congressman is adamant about blocking that bill, the NSA agents get him killed.

Later, they discover that the murder was captured on video by a wildlife researcher who passes it on to lawyer Robert Dean (actor Will Smith).

Ideally, the movie is about government surveillance gone wrong right from the start to the false evidence on Robert Dean that destroys his life and gets him on the run.

Gattaca (1997)

The future of biometric in a nutshell! Your romantic partners, vocational aspirations as well as the social status will all depend on your genetics. Society belongs to two classes; genetically enhanced and natural-born humans.

The movie features protagonist Vincent Freeman (played Ethan Hawke) as natural-born and for that reason he’s dismissed from his career choice – becoming an astronaut at Gattaca Aerospace Corporation.

Determined, he commits an identity fraud and purchases a “valid” DNA to join the space program Gattaca. However, after joining, he finds himself in a world of increasingly genetic assumptions all gone wrong. The movie presents an incredible look into genetic privacy as well as the implications of genetic discrimination.

The Conversation (1974)

It’s one of the oldest movies and it takes privacy issues with a different twist. It features a private surveillance expert being hired to spy on a couple. Later, he suffers a faith crisis once he believes that the information gathered might result in grave consequences.

In fact, the movie is entirely a subterfuge of spy versus spy, whereby everyone is merely listening in. The movie is simply an intellectual thriller, and Gene Hackman (Harry Caul) is the private agent and gets too deep into a job that he should not have found. He even goes on to question how much we should know about the affairs of others.

V for Vendetta (2005)

The film is adapted from the Alan Moore graphic novel and takes place in 2027, whereby a dystopian London England is ripped apart by a pandemic virus and warfare to a totalitarian state. The vigilante “V” (Hugo Weaving) saves Evey (Portman) from the secret police who again starts to question herself about the world they live in.

The film is focused on an uphill fight for free speech as well as an identity within society. It draws imagery from WW2-era Germany and Nineteen Eighty-four. Themes of homophobia, nationalism, oppression, and eugenics dominate the dystopian world of this movie and they’re the foundation for the Norsefire’s surveillance state.

Mr. Robot (2015-2019)

A spectacular and thought-provoking movie, Mr. Robot presents arguably the most engaging hacking as well as social engineering depictions. The movie focuses on Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), a tech working at a cybersecurity company.

The film depicts hacking more realistically than most movies and TV shows, whereby you only don’t have to watch a hacker type for merely 3 seconds and get into the CIA. In this movie, Mr. Robot shows the fine details of cybersecurity and how it can be fascinating as well as accessible. It’s probably something that you might want to watch yourself.

The Prisoner (1967-1968)

Talking about a movie that left an impact on most individuals, The Prisoner has to be on that list. It features an unnamed man that later is dubbed as Number Six, and after resigning as an agent is secretly abducted and then relocated to home (a recreation of his home) in a coastal town “The Village.”

The fact that people in the village are free to move, they’re monitored by tech security systems and are assigned numbers. Unfortunately, nobody knows whom they can trust.

The Truman Show (1998)

The movie stars Jim Carrey as the man who spends his entire life in the fictional world built to specifically chronicle his life on a television program. The movie shows cleverly every scene as caught on a plethora of hidden cameras across the entire town that Truman inhabits.

Throughout his life, audiences across the globe have followed his life journey with situations engineered to create specific emotional reactions – just for ratings. Ideally, he has no control over his life situation; no privacy.

The list for surveillance-themed media is unlimited and we might spend a whole day going through each of them. The fact that most of them were introduced several decades ago implies that surveillance has long been a thing of concern. Unfortunately, things are even getting worse given that privacy is no longer served hot with the advancements in technology.

Apparently, watching a plethora of those movies and shows might give you a clue on some of the ways that will help you at least maintain your privacy. Besides, they’re arguably one of the movies worth watching for entertainment!

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