Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Soylent Green (1973)

I need to get this of my chest first. The year is 1973 and Soylent Green is released. Maybe it was shot partly in 1972, I have no idea. It’s a film set in the future where society is divided into small rich communities and the rest of the poor fuckers outside. It’s a fairly big budget movie with some great ideas – but how come that they can’t even imagine that a computer game can be something else than a small dot doing something else to another small dot? In these movies they can imagine everything except advanced computer- and videogames! Ja ja, forget about it, because Soyent Green is a much better and well-made movie than I first thought the last time I saw it, maybe 15 years ago on TV.

The year is 2022 (it’s getting closer!) and the world is over-populated and EVERYTHING is fucked-up. Yes, everything. Not much fun here. The rich bastard’s lives in high security buildings (think Land of the Dead) in luxery and with “furniture” in every apartment. Furniture is women that acts like prostitues, housekeepers, wives… yeah, whatever. One day Simonson (Joseph Cotten), one of the board members in Soylent (the leading food processing company in the world) let himself get beaten to death with a crowbar and it’s police detective Charlton Heston who’s assigned to the case to solve the murder. But the further he goes in the investigation it’s clear that someone wants to stop him…

Soylent Green is a conspiracy thriller set in the future, which is a brilliant idea. The style is realistic and dirty, except a few of the interiors. A lot is outdated, like people using old bakelite telephones and the computer game mentioned above. But it still manages to feel realistic, and is probably closer today than people could imagine in 1973. The classes have floated further away from each other, the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. A first step towards doomsday, I think. As a thriller it succeeds on almost every level. It’s not to long either, just a little bit over ninety minutes, which keeps the pace up and it’s a lot of twists, turns and action stuffed into the story. The violence is violent to, which is good. Nice squibs and one impressive stunt with a man falling from quite a height landing, hitting something on the way down and landing hard on an Soylent Green assembly line.

By now the secret, the concept with Soyent Green, is so well-known that it’s almost a joke, but I won’t discuss the idea with the movie, which I think is great and still works as a good surprise because of the action and conspiracy leading up to the revelation. A good thriller is always a good thriller, no matter if you know the ending.

As a fan of musical interludes I just f**king love the intro to the movie, which shows the degradation of the world and society in still photos. This reminded me so much of the montage in The Parallax View that I got goosebumps from watching it. Even the extremely sentimental scene when one of the characters take government assisted suicide when watching a montage of footage of how the world once was, is powerful and will awake the cry-baby in you all.

Heston is good in this movie, the smaller parts played by Joseph Cotton, the always mighty Chuck Connors and of course, maybe first of all, Edward G. Robinson, really steals the show. In Heston’s trilogy of pseudo-radical sci-fi movies (the other two being Planet of the Apes and The Omega Man), Soylent Green still holds up at the best of the bunch!

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