Soylent Green (1973)

Soylent Green (1973) movie poster

director Richard Fleischer
viewed: 10/30/2017

I don’t know how I got to live this long without having ever seen Soylent Green, but of course, I know the punchline.

Soylent Green seems the last of Charlton Heston’s run of science fiction movies that started with Planet of the Apes (1968). He’s 50 years old here but presumably supposed to be younger than that, the classic middle-aged Hollywood action hero.

As speculative futurism, aspects of Soylent Green are resonant, while other aspects are nigh hilarious. It’s 2022 and the “greenhouse effect” has burned down most of what we consider “nature”, trees, food crops, animal life. And the city is overrun with homeless while the super-rich live lives in gilded cages, still enjoying the rare treats that were once daily norms, like celery.

It’s a future deprived of technology, which makes sense if society and environment crashed when it did (probably the early 1970’s). When people riot, they get scooped up in earth-moving equipment and piled into garbage trucks. Yet, there is still a beleaguered police force investigating homicides, though the cops barely make enough to eat.

Oh, and women are furniture. At least they hit futuristic endemic sexism on the head.

And the reveal that isn’t a reveal at the end of the film. I have to really think if everyone is so starved and society so bankrupt, would cannibalism even be remotely outre? I mean if you can’t get your protein anywhere else… What is it they eat instead? What is the social infrastructure that they’re trying to hold together?

Heston is such a brutish ham but Edward G Robinson is great.

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