The movie Equilibrium is set in the future after a third World War had occurred which decimated a good portion of the world. After seeing the devastation that came about due to this war, a new government created by the survivors outlawed human emotions because they believed that is the cause of all wars and evils. To suppress the emotions every citizen is mandated to take a drug called Prozium II and a new type of soldier is created called Clerics that wield dual guns and practice a martial arts that allow them to fire with the most efficiency and accuracy.
The movie actually draws on many similarities found in the book 1984 which I believe was the goal of the writers. Just like in 1984 a new government rises to dictate over the citizens that have survived the World War however Equilibrium takes place further in the future. The government also banned a human quality that they believe was the cause of all the strife in human history, for 1984 it was human thoughts and Equilibrium was human emotions. With these bans, it is considered the most serious offense disobeying the government by plotting against Big Brother or refusing to take the drug Prozium II to suppress your emotions, There is even a junior spy found in Equilibrium where kids at young ages are trained to detect people know as “sense offenders” and report them to the police. The similarities does not end here; just like Big Brother, there is a central figure head known as “Father” who continually spreads the propaganda perpetuated by the government. There is also an underground resistance like the Brotherhood except it actually exists in Equilibrium while in 1984 the resistance is fake.
Apart from the similarities, there are some differences in how the society conducts itself in Equilibrium. For starters there is the Clerics who are the main device used to control the population. These Clerics are soldiers who have trained the in the art of Gun Kata which is a combat style created using dual wielding pistols. The style was created through analyzing thousands of gun fights and finding the best possible way of shooting both efficiently and effectively. By doing this, no one can oppose these soldiers of the government and would not dare refusing taking Prozium, however there are still rebels that believe human emotions are essential to the human. I believe they named these soldiers Clerics because the government believes they must cleanse the world of humans that want to feel. However, as easy as it is for Clerics to eliminate other humans, it is very difficult to keep themselves from wanting to feel. The main character himself is a high ranking Cleric and arguably the best even succumbs to the urge of wanting to feel again and works with the opposition to overthrow the government. Another difference is the no tolerance the government has against rebels. In 1984 instead of immediately killing the rebel they recondition them to love Big Brother and if it fails they execute them, but in Equilibrium there is no mercy for those who rebel, they are put on trial for their crimes and scheduled to be executed if convicted.
The reason the movie draws on 1984 so much is because George Orwells work was so influential to all dystopian works that followed and it is easier to explain the message of the movie. I believe the message of the movie is that the solution to ending all human strife is not found in banning qualities of human nature. We as humans need to be able to have emotions for that is how differentiate ourselves from others and become individuals. It seems that the ban was effective but really the only reason it worked for so long is the enforcement by the Clerics who work for the government. They are the ones that keep people under control but without them no one would even comply at all. In the ending scene of the movie, the main character is shown to be smiling because he can feel again and has overthrown the government. The reason for this scene I believe is that a smile is the best way to show happiness and content and the main character had successfully allowed the people to be humans again.