Classic Cinema Spotlight: Soylent Green (1973)

I normally don't blog about 1970's films but gee this one is one I think that would blow your minds! It is called Soylent Green and it stars Charlton Heston, Leigh Taylor-Young, and Edward G. Robinson in his final role. Inspired by a book published in 1966 called Make Room! Make Room! about the consequences of unchecked population growth, this film adds a twist ending that will have you screaming in your head for days.

The film is set in the year 2022 and there 40 million people in New York. The cities and the world in general is severely overpopulated. Most of the population survives on rations produced by the Soylent Corporation. The latest product is something called Soylent Green which is said to be made my high energy plankton.

Heston is a NYC police detective named Robert Thorn who lives with his friend Sol Roth played by Robinson. He remembers the world the way it used to be and longs for it. Sol helps Thorn with cases using the books he has and their relationship is one of like a grandfather and grandson. It is endearing and a pleasure to watch them on screen together.

As Thorn goes to investigate a murder he meets a woman named Shirl played by Taylor-Young who is a concubine but in that time people like her are referred to as furniture. He befriends her and looks further into the case of her benefactor named Simonson (Joseph Cotten) who is a member of the elite wealthy and also a member of the Board of Soylent. He finds classified Oceanographic Surveys and gives them to Sol to read.

Thorn's investigation takes some twists and turns and it begins to look like Simonson was assassinated. The question though is why? Sol on the other hand takes this new survey information to like minded folks and they all agree that the oceans are no longer making plankton and it is from another source from which Soylent Green is made.

Sol cannot bear the knowledge of knowing what Soylent Green is really made of so he decides to seek a peace at a assisted suicide clinic that is referred to as "home".

Thorn tries to save Sol but instead Sol tells him about Soylent Green and asks him to expose the truth. In the scene where Sol is dying it is said the tears that Heston sheds are genuine because before they filmed the scene Robinson told him that he was dying and didn't have long to live. A truly powerful and genuine scene. It will give you chills. Robinson was a prolific actor and in his last scene in his last film role you can see why.

Now that Thorn knows the truth he attempts to get in contact with the Lieutenant in his precinct named Hatcher (Brock Peters) but begins to be chased down by the same man who assassinated Simonson. It seems Simonson realized that he didn't want to be a part of the Soylent Green plan and was therefore eliminated.

The film ends with the man who killed Simonson named Fielding (Chuck Connors) being murdered by Thorn in self defense inside of a church. Thorn is injured himself when Lieutenant Hatcher shows up and Thorn shouts out with all his strength....

Det. Thorn: Hatcher, get to the Exchange. You gotta tell them they're right.
Hatcher: But let's take care of you first.
Det. Thorn: You don't understand. I've got proof. They need proof, I've seen it. I've seen it happening. They've gotta tell people.
Hatcher: Tell them what?
Det. Thorn: The ocean's dying. Plankton's dying. It's people. Soylent Green is made out of people. They're making our food out of people. Next thing, they'll be breeding us like cattle for food. You've gotta tell them. You've gotta tell them!
Hatcher: I promise. Tiger. I promise. I'll tell the Exchange.
Det. Thorn: You tell everybody. Listen to me. Hatcher. You've gotta tell 'em! SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE! We gotta stop them! Somehow! Listen! Listen to me… PLEASE!!!

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1 comment :

  1. This movie's plot twists and the frightening thought of "what if this really happened one day?" kept me up for many nights after I saw this firm fr the first time around the age of 12 or 13. To this day it still lingers vividly in my mind and is one of the films and concepts alike that simply can't be shaken from your conscious once it's there.

    ♥ Jessica


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