SOYLENT GREEN (1973)
Screen on Friday, February 9, 2017
presented by Joy Perew
doors at 7:00pm, film at 7:30pm
February’s Screen will take place at Fresh Oysters Performance Research in Minneapolis.
In a densely overpopulated, starving New York City of the future, NYPD detective Robert Thorn (Charlton Heston) investigates the murder of an executive at rations manufacturer Soylent Corporation. With the help of elderly academic Solomon “Sol” Roth (Edward G. Robinson), Thorn begins to make real progress — until the governor mysteriously pulls the plug. Obsessed with the mystery, Thorn steps out from behind the badge and launches his own investigation into the murder. (Wikipedia)
When this movie first came out in the 70s, with its setting in the future — year 2022, I was (I have to admit) a little unnerved by the surprise ending. Oddly, the underlying premise is more plausible today than it was when Harry Harrison dreamed up this vision of the future back in the day.
I really enjoyed this film; not only because of the great screen chemistry between Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson, but it is an easy film to identify with almost all the main characters — even the bad guys. Edward G. Robinson’s character is the only one who remembers the past (our times, 2017?) with any clarity (and much nostalgia) and he has a passion for books — one of the many things that make Sol the shining beacon of hope in this film. It is interesting to see how people in the 70s imagined how people in the 21st century would deal with scarcity and deprivation. There is very little revolting among the masses who live in total squalor, except when food is scarce. There are a few aspects in the film which some may find offensive, or at least politically/socially incorrect in our day, and thankfully it appears the world will not be like this in five years. Nevertheless, the movie does not fail to entertain, especially in retrospect. And it certainly provides ample fodder for all conspiracy theorists.
Although it never made it to the Academy, Soylent Green received the Nebula award in 1974 from Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for Best Dramatic Presentation, also taking the grand prize at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival in France that year, and, in 1975 from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films USA, the Golden Scroll for Best Science Fiction Film.
In a word, “a classic.”