Some background: Soylent
Green is a 1973 science fiction movie that starred then box-office
champ Charlton Heston. Considering that the two other science fiction
movies Charlton Heston starred in during his long career have already been “remade” (Planet of the Apes by
Tim Burton in 2001 and The Omega Man as
I Am Legend starring Will Smith),
then it should maybe come as no surprise that Hollywood would want to remake
Soylent Green as well.
The ‘Seventies saw the rise of the Ecological
movement. In the late-1960s issues such as overpopulation, the destruction
of the rain forest and pollution amongst others may have only been of
concern to a bunch of tree-hugging hippies, but in the 1970s these issues
went mainstream. In time these concerns were also reflected in several
Hollywood movies of the era such as Z.P.G. (1972) and
Silent Running (also
1972) – several decades before WALL-E!
Reeling from the shock of Vietnam and Watergate, the ‘Seventies was the
time to feel shitty about the future. That decade’s Hollywood output
become infamous for its cynicism and unhappy endings, a trend which was
only reversed when a certain small movie named
Star Wars quenched the
viewing public’s insatiable thirst for happy endings . . .
Since then Hollywood hasn’t really stopped with the happy ending business,
and it is therefore weird that they would want to remake Soylent Green – a
darkly pessimistic film with a trademarked ‘Seventies unhappy ending.
Soylent Green is set in 2022, a future dystopia in
which the planet is plagued by overcrowding, pollution and resource
depletion. To cope with the problem the government has set up euthanasia
centres for the elderly where they can watch stock footage of the now
extinct forests and animals as self-administered poison slowly course
through their veins.
"Our film is about what happens afterwards . . ."
- Writer / director David Goyer
[SPOILERS!] The only foodstuff available in mass
quantities is “Soylent Green,” tasteless green cubes which the government
says are made of plankton. Of course it isn’t made of plankton: as everyone
knows by now “Soylent Green is people!” It seems that the government has
found a non-wasteful way to recycle all those depressed
pensioners who frequent the euthanasia centers! In the movie Charlton
Heston plays a cop who inadvertently uncovers the truth and dies at the
end, trying to tell the people the truth.
The movie is based on a 1966 science fiction novel titled
Make Room! Make
Room! by Harry Harrison. Today Soylent Green may be fondly remembered by
science fiction fans in part because movies became dumber in the decades
that followed. The reality though is that Soylent Green gives new meaning
to the phrase “loosely based on”. In the novel Soylent Green wasn’t people
at all - it really was seaweed.
Yup, even back then Hollywood
sensationalised and dumbed the material down. (When one thinks about it,
the “Soylent Green is people” twist is pretty dumb because it’d be
impossible to keep the truth behind the world’s most common foodstuff
secret for longer than a day!)
The first news of a Soylent Green remake surfaced in 2004. Back then David Goyer, who wrote
Batman Begins and directed
Blade: Trinity told SCI FI
Wire that the planned movie would be more of a sequel than a remake.
Instead it will pick up where the original film left off.
“I will say that the reveal at the end of the first movie happened at the
end of our first act. So the first movie is kind of the first act of our
film, and then it’s about what happens afterwards,” Goyer said. As he
pointed out in the same interview, you can’t have the “Soylent Green is
people” the punch line anymore because everybody knows it by now! [END SPOILERS!]
The plan was that Goyer wouldn’t write or direct the remake / sequel, but
only produce it under his then just-signed one-year first-look deal with
Fast forward to 2008. Obviously no Soylent Green remake as yet. But in
December of that year a news item surfaces in The Hollywood Reporter that
Dan McDermott has been hired by Warner Bros to write an adaptation of the
novel on assignment - something he must do before the rights to the story
reverts back to Harrison.
McDermott is a former head of DreamWorks Television who has slowly
gravitated to screenwriting and co-wrote Eagle Eye. According to the same
reports he was also working on remaking Romancing the Stone at that time.
(David S. Goyer was also no longer attached to the project it seems.)
Since then . . . nothing. There is a 2012 release date for this film right
now, so Hollywood doesn’t seem to be in too much of a hurry to get it
made. Hopefully they’ll lose interest altogether because one can just
imagine how Michael Bay turns it into an ADD action movie in which Arnold
Schwarzenegger makes his movie comeback blowing away the corrupt scheming
government officials behind the indubitably socialist Soylent Green
feeding project, Democrats every last one of them no doubt!