Looking Back on Soylent Green

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If you were to ask any of my friends what I enjoyed chances are all of them would say movies.  I am a regular addict.  Of the sub sets that make up movie land one genre stands out above the others and captures my imagination, the horror and sci-fi of yesteryear.  Though there are many brilliantly entertaining and wildly imaginative films in the genre, one sticks out in my mind and is a go-to when my friends humor me and agree to watch a movie:  Soylent Green.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Soylent Green is a 1973 sci-fi film that takes place in a future Earth.  The Earth has become overpopulated and is now regulated in every way by the government.  The population are given rations called “soylents” and come in several different varieties (green, red, yellow).  The film follows a New York City detective who is investigating the murder of a wealthy man and finds himself marked for murder once he begins piecing the case together.

Part of my love for this movie probably stems from my gravitating towards anything in an apocalyptic future.  I don’t want the movies that predict the future being a happy place of world peace, I want to see what the writer imagines the soylent-green-posterfuture will actually be like.  Soylent Green does this wonderfully.

Without being too heavy handed you are shown how the world has become accepting of its fate, how hope has mostly disappeared, and how people are just living day to day knowing that change is a remote possibility.  There are small, beautifully acted (by Charlton Heston) and written moments of hope and wonder that keep the movie fresh and give the viewer hope in a world that seems to have none.

The aesthetic of Soylent Green is the aspect I love most.  Some props look pretty DIY, but the cheese adds to the charm as the film has aged.  The crew went to great lengths to keep the feeling consistent and really show the differences between the poor and affluent, who live in the same society but have very different lifestyles.  This also falls into the category of pre-Star Wars sci-fi, which seems like a world away from the science fiction made today.

As far as the story goes, Soylent Green is quite simple.  A detective is solving a murder and finds that the connections run deeper than he originally thought, classic storyline.  The way that the story is woven is what makes this movie entertaining.  It isn’t all about the action, it isn’t carried by shock, there is just solid and consistent storytelling.  That’s my kind of movie.

Of course, there is the big “twist,” the one that most everyone knows even without seeing the film.  In fact, that moment was revealed in the original theatrical trailers.  I guess it’s good that Soylent Green has more to it than one bit twist (*coughM.Nightcough).  I’m pretty sure the moratorium on spoilers has passed, but I don’t want to be the one who ruined it for you.

If you haven’t seen it, go watch Soylent Green.  If you aren’t into the genre, watch it with friends.  I have seen it several times both with friends and alone and have never had a bad experience.

 

What movie do you think everyone should see at least once?  Let us know in the comments!

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