Soylent Green, directed by Richard Fleisher (also credited with 20 000 Leagues Under the Sea and Fantastic Voyage), is a cautionary dystopian movie with unsettling conclusions.
Though it is based on Harry Harrison's novel "Make Room! Make Room!", the film could easily have been inspired by the Cree Indian Prophecy:
"Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the air has been polluted
Only then will you find money cannot be eaten".
No, the money cannot be eaten, but Soylent Green introduces a chilling alternative.
Review by Wasa
March 4, 2012
Director: Richard Fleischer
novel: Harry Harrison screenplay: Stanley R. Greenberg
Charlton Heston as Detective Thorn
Edward G. Robinson as Sol Roth
Leigh Taylor-Young as Shirl
Joseph Cotten as William R. Simonson
Brock Peters as Chief Hatcher
Sol Roth: You know. When I was a kid food was food. Before our scientific magicians poisoned the water, polluted the soil. Decimated plant and animal life. Why, in my day you could buy meat anywhere. Eggs, they had. Real butter.
The movie starts with a two-minute-long montage which shows a gradual transformation of the world.
The slide show begins with pictures of smiling people and beautiful scenery, then flicks through images of ever growing number of cars, smog-churning industrial smokestacks, people wearing protective masks and ends with enormous piles of garbage, tortured, lifeless land and a cityscape blurred by air pollution.
Then the score, which underpins this transformation, trails off and we are told it is the year 2022, place - New York City, population - 40 000 000 people.
Most of the population are unemployed. Homeless people roam decaying streets of the overcrowded city and sleep in staircases and abandoned cars. People are forced to live in cities - the countryside is off-limit and the last remaining patches of fertile land are heavily guarded.
In buildings, doormen are replaced with men with machine guns and riots are commonplace while people stand in never ending lines for water rations and food.
Those who have a job live in remaining flats and the rich have restricted and guarded area of their own and only they can afford vegetables, fruit or meat. The rest of the population are lucky if they get some of the colored biscuits called Soylent Red, Soylent Yellow and a brand new product on the market - Soylent Green.
In this stark setting we meet Thorn, a hard-nosed cop played by Charlton Heston, who shares a small apartment with his aged friend and colleague Sol, played by Edward G. Robbinson in his 101st and last role, "police book" who gathers information for Thorn's investigations and also a tormented character haunted by the memories of the world gone by.
Thorn is sent in to a rich apartment building area to investigate the murder of a certain William R. Simonson.
Subsequently, Sol discovers that the Simonson was a CEO of the Soylent Corporation, Thorn does not want to back of from investigation not even after treat on his life nor when his boss insists.
Little does he suspect that it will lead him to the discovery of a government conspiracy and disturbing truth about the soylent green.
I saw Soylent Green for the first time more than 20 years ago. Many scenes were etched in my memory. On top of that, when I have recently revisited this movie I was stunned to be reminded yet again how alarmingly relevant it was in its warnings, especially those concerning a climate change.
Essentially, the future depicted in movie Soylent Green is not a result of nuclear war, massive plague or some other apocalyptic disaster. It is a result of gradual neglect of the world, which has become a desolate place troubled with scorching heat waves caused by green house effect, overpopulation, depletion of natural resources and pollution.
Soylent Green is a disturbing and seminal science fiction movie which carries a great reminder that we should not take our beautiful world for granted and a warning of what may happen to us if we do.
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