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
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
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
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 . . .