Soylent Green (1973)

Article 3249 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-12-2010
Posting Date: 7-7-2010
Directed by Richard Fleischer
Featuring Charlton Heston, Leigh Taylor-Young, Chuck Connors
Country: USA
What it is: Seventies dystopian science fiction

In the overpopulated future, a policeman investigates the murder of a rich businessman. The policeman believes the murder was an assassination by a gang of conspirators who considered the businessman an undependable risk who might reveal secrets about a food manufacturing plant.

In one sense, this movie reminds me of PSYCHO; both movies are somewhat compromised by the fact that practically everybody knows what the big plot twists are, so the movies can’t really surprise you in that regard anymore. Still, the big end revelation is merely the movie at its most melodramatic and sensational; the movie also makes its points in much subtler ways, and for me, the real heart of the movie is that it uses the basic conspiracy investigation plot structure as a springboard for scenes in which we explore the impact of overpopulation. The movie is a touchstone for seventies dystopian SF, and it marks the third of the three science fiction movies for which Charlton Heston is most remembered for, the other two being PLANET OF THE APES and THE OMEGA MAN. Though Heston may be the protagonist here, the movie is stolen by Edward G. Robinson as the aging book who assists Heston and who remembers the good old days before overpopulation; Robinson’s reactions to rediscovering the pleasures of eating real food are priceless. The movie’s high point is the scene where Robinson “goes home”; this was Robinson’s last movie, and I can’t think of a single actor whose final scene was as immensely moving as Robinson’s is here. The movie also features a Whit Bissell in a cameo as the governor who has a hand in the conspiracy.


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