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Silent Running (1972)

GP | | Drama, Sci-Fi | 10 March 1972 (USA)
In a future where all flora is extinct on Earth, an astronaut is given orders to destroy the last of Earth's botany, kept in a greenhouse aboard a spacecraft.



, (as Mike Cimino) | 1 more credit »

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1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
John Keenan
Marty Barker
Andy Wolf
Mark Persons ...
the Drone
Steven Brown ...
the Drone
Cheryl Sparks ...
the Drone
Larry Whisenhunt ...
the Drone


In a future Earth barren of all flora and fauna, the planet's ecosystems exist only in large pods attached to spacecraft. When word comes in that the pods are to be jettisoned into space and destroyed, most of the crew of the Valley Forge rejoice at the prospect of going home. Not so for botanist Freeman Lowell, who loves the forest and its creatures. He kills his colleagues taking the ship deep into space. Alone on the craft with his only companions being three small robots, Lowell revels in joys of nature. When colleagues appear to "rescue" him, he realizes he has only one option available to him. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Earth's last battle will be fought in space. See more »


Drama | Sci-Fi


GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 March 1972 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Running Silent  »

Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Filmed in February and March of 1971 on a 32-day-schedule. See more »


Lowell (Bruce Dern) was arguing with another crew member about who would be best qualified to lead the assumed new forest service, citing his 8 years aboard the Valley Forge, yet he didn't realize one of the fundamental necessities for plant life later in the film when his forest was dying: light. The position of the domes, as well as the ships, must have been dictated by the need for sunlight as it would have been one of the main functions. At the very least automated systems should have warned him about losing the necessary light. See more »


Freeman Lowell: [to Huey and Dewey] Poor Louie, God bless him... he's not with us anymore.
See more »


Referenced in Space Station 76 (2014) See more »


Rejoice in the Sun
Lyrics by Diane Lampert
Music by Peter Schickele
Performed by Joan Baez
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Not just special effects, but a poignant question: what would YOU do?
7 February 1999 | by (Tokyo, Japan) – See all my reviews

Recently someone asked me what was the best sci-fi movie I'd ever seen. "Best"? On what basis -- story, acting, special effects? Generally one would usually choose one of the high-tech, high-priced, superstar biggies.

But I had to say "Silent Running." Oh, it has special effects all right, and I think they're good enough for the purpose; I certainly felt the cramped dimness of the station against the vast implacability of space. Maybe you'd say it doesn't have enough action, surprises, or gore. But maybe this story doesn't need them.

Then why is it my nomination? Because when it was over, I had to turn off the TV -- couldn't let its mood and memory be violated by a late-nite commercial -- and just quietly weep for its poignancy. Anything less (or more) would have denied it the respect it deserved.

If you must, watch it as just more fodder for your entertainment urge. But if your soul is deeper than that... if you can, as Bruce Dern does, put yourself in the place of a character who so cares about the earth and its place in the cosmos ... you'll appreciate the eloquent statement of this film and the way it's presented.

A man, not a god. But if it were you, if you were there... would you, COULD YOU do what he did?

95 of 133 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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I have always loved this film. tomohara15
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