Forty years after the movie premiered, I’d hazard a guess that most film goers know that Soylent Green is (GASP!) people! People….People eating people…
I vaguely remembered hearing this, but I’d never seen the movie–until last night. Great experience. Forget for 90 minutes who Charlton Heston became in his
later years, and see him as the great actor he was; also sexy as hell. If you’re a sci-fi fan you’ll love SG, and if you aren’t, you’ll love it too. As intelligent as any Twilight Zone playlet, as gripping–even with the ending suspected or known–as any detective story (which it is) and as visually grand as today’s super special effects, Soylent Green kept me in and on the edge of my seat from start to finish. And what a finish!
Throw in Edward G. Robinson, deviating from his usual gangster persona, in his 101st–and last–movie role, and SG is a feast for the mind and senses.
It’s always fun to return to predictions of the future in old sci-fi movies or books, and SG is no exception. The year is 2022 (not so far off) and the most salient futurism, besides the food, is climate change: it’s hot all the time. So hot that vegetables don’t grow, and sweat pours down the actors’ faces. There’s no air-conditioning relief, either: like everything else, it just doesn’t work. Overpopulation is the next biggie: at night the streets and stairways are full of sleeping people one on top of the other.
The world of SG includes voluntary suicide booths. These have appeared in at least one TZ episode, a Kurt Vonnegut story, and several other works of fiction both pre- and post-Kevorkian. When I was younger these seemed horrifying; now they look like a great way to go. You get to plan the time of your death, choose the lighting and the music, and watch gorgeous films of nature–which the deprived denizens of SG have never seen in real life. In 20 blissful minutes it’s all over. Better than cancer, no?
Soylent is a manufactured food that comes in more benign colors than green, and it’s all anyone except the super-rich gets to eat. Brings to mind Monsanto and genetically engineered food. Lest we forget, vigilance now and in the future is the order of the day. Never has it been so literally true that You Are What You Eat!
I give Soylent Green—the movie, that is—5 big fat stars. If you’ve never seen it, rent it. And if you have, I’m probably inspiring a re-run.
- The end of food as we know it? (napavalleyregister.com)
- Scott Beale: Soylent, A Food Replacement Made of Vitamins & Nutrients, Not People (laughingsquid.com)
- Gruel today, gruel tomorrow (economist.com)