While sci-fi fans like myself wait for the highly-anticipated sixth season of Black Mirror to be released, one movie on the 2023 Sundance Film Festival lineup, The Pod Generation, provided the kind of ‘what if’ that could have fit with other episodes of the Netflix series. The movie stars Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke living in a version of the future where there’s an option to have a baby via a plastic (and very expensive) egg. My biggest takeaway from the whole thing is how probable it can feel.
The Pod Generation takes aim at the fact that our phones control just about everything in our lives right now, so why wouldn’t it do so for childbirth someday? The movie from writer/director Sophie Barthes has a clever vision for what our futures could look like considering screen time is creeping up on more of our time than ever. But rather than it being some terrifying horror film, it’s an endearing and satirical approach to the topic, and it takes its audiences all the way down the road of its concept.
The world of the film imagines the Siris and Alexas of the world being built into our homes and scheduling our entire lives. Because the world is so overrun with technology, Emilia Clarke’s leading character, Rachel, works for a tech company and has scheduled time to be in nature with a “nature pod” visit, where she sits in a chair and is fed scenes and sounds of natural life. Meanwhile, her husband, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Alvy, is a botany teacher who works around living plants all day. So when they get off the waitlist of getting an egg baby, Rachel is nervous to tell her husband she doesn’t want to have their child the old-fashioned way.
The Pod Generation is the kind of movie that can kickstart some interesting discussions about the importance of pregnancy to having a baby. In a world where couples can have a child and place the womb on their shelf as a household object until it’s ready, it especially speaks to the increasingly isolating world we find ourselves in when we can have so many things conveniently on our phones. When we do things like send a text message or have every song at our fingertips, there’s a bit of human connection that’s lost there. This movie takes it to the next level considering what we lose if pregnancy had the same access. The scary part underlying all this is the idea of tech companies having the very life of the next generations in their hands.
There are positives to it too, as we see Rachel able to work, drink and relatively enjoy her life as she has a baby in the oven in their plastic pod. But what happens is Alvy feels desperate to bond to it and begins taking the role of a pregnant mother, spending night and day with the pod. There are a lot of intriguing ideas explored here, and the movie has already been awarded with the Feature Film Prize from the Sundance Institute Science-in-Film initiative with Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Per Deadline, the prize was awarded for the movie’s “bold” depiction of its world, along with its “woman artist’s exploration of shifting gender roles dissociated from biology.”
The Pod Generation doesn’t have a place on the 2023 movie release schedule just yet, but we’ll keep you posted. As Emilia Clarke moves on from Game of Thrones, the franchise has, of course, continued with House of the Dragon and other upcoming Game of Thrones shows.