In 1995, it was released a movie which at the time was quite panned by the critics (apart from Roger Ebert who included it in his Top 10 of the year) and almost destroyed the career of Kathryn Bigelow, who then went to become the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director, fourteen years later.
Yet, there were all the elements for a success. The concept, production and script were by the other King Midas of Hollywood, James Cameron, the cast featured three of the most sensational newcomers of that generation (Oscar-nominated Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis) plus the theme was the overwhelming interaction and fascination of virtual reality in our real lives on the scenery of the notorious and frightening New Year’s Eve of 2000.
But audiences deserted the story of Lenny Nero, a former policeman now a dealer of SQUID, a mechanism which could allow you to live personally experiences recorded by others, and how he ends up involved in the murder of a popular and riotous musician, helped only by taxi driver Mace, and only Saturn Awards jury gave it what was due.
Twenty four years later, its visuals and concept, which could have been a bit in debt of “Blade Runner” legacy, are still impressive and surprising. Cameron and Bigelow at the time focused their attention on the racial tensions of those years (like the Rodney King case, whose references are evident), but what astonishes a contemporary spectator is the obsession for the SQUID and its voyeuristic features, the possibility to live someone else’s life. The society of socials, where selfies and stories give everyone the illusion to transfer him/herself somewhere else thanks to a smartphone camera were already predicted and analyed here throughout a vision of a society full of racism and on the verge of explosion.
Few movies depict reality and its misleading escape ways like “Strange Days”. It is definitely the time to rewatch and revaluate it.