Sunday, September 13, 2009

Food For Thought: Soylent Green(1973)

(The late) Charlton Heston has always been one of my favorite actors. I have many films on DVD starring this great actor. His portrayal of astronaut "George Taylor" in 1968's Planet Of The Apes is terrific and helped cement this actor's lasting fame among fans of Heston and classic sci-fi movies. While Heston's portrayal of "Taylor" will always be a favorite I also recently watched Heston at work in another sci-fi movie on DVD, a film that is also something of a mystery and suspense thriller. I'm referring to Soylent Green, directed by Richard Fleischer and first released theatrically back in 1973 by MGM.

The film's story: in the year 2022 the world has degenerated into a miserable, polluted and over populated cesspool of mostly unemployed and malnourished humanity. In New York City the population has swelled to forty million, pollution hangs over the metropolis like a cloudy haze and mostly unemployed citizens live in squalor, packed in like cattle among the dilapidated and run down neighborhoods. Helmeted riot police patrol the city and, to subdue those who riot, employ trucks equipped with large buckets to scoop up rioters and dispose of them as if they were garbage.

A lone, cube shaped consumable called "Soylent Green" is mass produced and distributed to the masses to prevent their starvation. Meanwhile, Detective-Sergeant Thorn(Charlton Heston) is assigned to investigate the murder of a high ranking member of the Soylent Corporation, manufacturer of the substance "Soylent Green". The murder victim is named "Simonson"(Joseph Cotten). Thorn's investigation, aided by his own personal and human library from the past, "Sol"(Edward G. Robinson), leads him to a disturbing revelation about the origins of "Soylent Green", which also and subsequently jeopardizes Thorn's own life. (no other spoilers)

The sets used to portray the squalid and miserable living conditions in NYC are marvelous. The city's suburbia and downtown areas are effectively made to look like one huge run down shanty in the film. Charlton Heston brings his typical on screen presence and deliberate, often urgent mannerisms to the character of Police Detective "Thorn". Edward G. Robinson is also quite good, albeit a tragic figure for me, a man who is greatly despondent at what he has seen as the entire city gradually degenerates before his eyes, and over the decades, into little more than a human septic tank.

The cast for this film: Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson, Chuck Connors, Joseph Cotten, Brock Peters & Leigh Taylor Young.

The Region 1 DVD of Soylent Green, released by Warner Home Video, can be bought online at Amazon(click the title of this blog entry to see it for sale at Amazon). Click the DVD cover art image above to see the DVD for sale also.

The trailer for Soylent Green(1973):