Film Review | Soylent Green

People need it…. in the year 2022

Soylent Green (1973)

Director: Richard Fleischer

Starring: Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson, Leigh Taylor-Young

Genre: Mystery/Sci-fi

Release Date: June 1973

Plot: In the world ravaged by the greenhouse effect and overpopulation, an NYPD detective investigates the murder of a big company CEO.

It’s only a couple of years till we reach the year 2022, I truly hope for a few different reasons that the world doesn’t resemble this when we get there, the lack of animals alone would really suck, never mind what we find out with the twist ending. Now, even though this film is one of the most famous science fictions of all time, I’m going to avoid spoilers in much the same way as my recent review of The Shining, for those of you yet to see this hugely influential movie.

Soylent Green (1973)

Although set in the 2020s and filmed in the ’70s, Soylent Green feels just as timeless now as when it came out, transporting you to a dog eat dog world in which everyone eats food produced by the Soylent corporation apart from the elite who have access to the last remaining fresh fruit and meat.

The film might appear on the surface as just another run-of-the-mill science fiction picture, but when you scratch the surface, you realise Fleischer produced a rather intelligent piece of political commentary, touching on the power of the few over the many, overpopulation, modern slavery and how something previously thought of as unthinkable becomes acceptable if you’re desperate enough.

Charlton Heston and Leigh Taylor-Young in Soylent Green (1973)
Soylent Green (1973)

One of the smartest aspects of the film is its lack of over the top “futuristic” visuals, instead of keeping the story contained in the dark and dingy urban landscape that would expect from a world that was no longer working on bettering itself and instead concentrating on managing the problems at hand. Not only this, but it prevents Soylent Green from looking as dated as other science-fiction movies of the period, such as Logan’s Run or The Andromeda Strain.

This intelligent approach to the genre leads to many standout sequences, but for me, the most touching and memorable is one that deals with the euthanasia of older residents. Thorn’s (Heston) contrasting emotions at the loss of his friend mixed with seeing animals and sunsets for the first time it really touching and Heaton does an amazing job to inject emotion to an otherwise quite sterilised plot, that is until the final ten minutes or so.

5 Panda

If you like: The Wicker Man, Rollercoaster, Planet of the Apes

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