STARRING: Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson, Leigh Taylor-Young, Chuck Connors, Joseph Cotten, Brock Peters, Paula Kelly, Whit Bissell, Mike Henry, Dick Van Patten

1973, 100 Minutes, Directed by: Richard Fleischer

soylent.jpg (8854 bytes)MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! Soylent Green is people. But you probably already knew that and knowing the "secret" behind this movie doesn't really destroy one's enjoyment of it anyway. You would have figured it out long before any character in the movie did as well. Soylent Green wasn't people in the original 1966 Make Room! Make Room! classic sci-fi novel by Harry Harrison, one of our favourite sci-fi as prophecy warning us of the dangers of overpopulation, pollution and destruction of the Earth's ecological balance novel along with John Brunner's 1970s The Sheep Look Up. END SPOILERS!

However, Hollywood did with the material at hand what they usually do: they sensationalised it. In the original novel, the main cop character (played by a Charlton Heston fresh from Planet of the Apes and The Omega Man) merely found himself investigating a murder which nobody else cared about in a future 2033 world that grew more oppressive and depressing with each turning page. No melodramatic uncovering of the secret behind the popular foodstuff that is said to be made of plankton by Heston, etc.

However, despite this major deviation from its source material, Soylent Green remains imminently watchable. It is as a whole loyal to Harrison's vision of a futuristic dystopia in which the streets are so overpopulated that one cannot walk around without literally stumbling over sleeping forms huddled on pavements and steps, a world where fields of green is virtually unknown and running tap water a luxury meant only for the very rich, where pensioners are encouraged to go to voluntary euthanasia centers, etc.

With this earnest depiction of a Malthusian nightmare run rampant future society, Soylent Green scores major points as classic science fiction and is well-worth seeing . . .


Sci-Fi Movie Page Pick: Tuesday is Soylent Green day . . . This cautionary tale about an overpopulated and resource scarce future may be a melodramatic and sensationalist rewrite of the excellent Make Room! Make Room! novel by Harry Harrison, but it'll leave with some things to ponder as you hit the "Eject" button on your VCR . . .



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