Neill Blomkamps 2013 science-fiction film Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, takes place in Los Angeles, circa 2154. The wealthy have moved into an orbiting luxury satellite—the Elysium of the title—while the wretched majority of humans remain in squalor on Earth. The film works passably as an allegory for its directors native South Africa, where racial apartheid was enforced for nearly 50 years, but its a rather cartoonish vision of the American future. Some critics panned the film for pushing a socialist message. Elysiums dystopian world, however, is a near-perfect metaphor for an actually existing socialist nation just 90 miles from Florida.
Ive always wanted to visit Cuba—not because Im nostalgic for a botched utopian fantasy but because I wanted to experience Communism firsthand. When I finally got my chance several months ago, I was startled to discover how much the Cuban reality lines up with Blomkamps dystopia.