In an overpopulated futuristic Earth, a New York police detective finds himself marked for murder by government agents when he gets too close to a bizarre state secret involving the origins of a revolutionary and needed new foodstuff.
Astronaut Sam Bell has a quintessentially personal encounter toward the end of his three-year stint on the Moon, where he, working alongside his computer, GERTY, sends back to Earth parcels of a resource that has helped diminish our planet's power problems.
In 2022, Earth is overpopulated and totally polluted; the natural resources have been exhausted and the nourishment of the population is provided by Soylent Industries, a company that makes a food consisting of plankton from the oceans. In New York, when Soylent's member of the board William R. Simonson is murdered apparently by a burglar at the Chelsea Towers West where he lives, efficient Detective Thorn is assigned to investigate the case with his partner Solomon "Sol" Roth. Thorn comes to the fancy apartment and meets Simonson's bodyguard Tab Fielding and the "furniture" (woman that is rented together with the flat) Shirl and the detective concludes that the executive was not victim of burglary but executed. Further, he finds that the Governor Santini and other powerful men want to disrupt and end Thorn's investigation. But Thorn continues his work and discovers a bizarre and disturbing secret of the ingredient used to manufacture Soylent Green. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In very poor health with cancer, Edward G. Robinson was almost totally deaf when he made this movie, and only able to hear anyone if they spoke directly into his ear. Because of this, scenes with him talking to other people had to be shot several times before he got the rhythm of the dialogue and was able to respond to people as if he could really hear them. And because he was unable to hear director Richard Fleischer yell "cut" when a scene went wrong, Robinson would often continue acting out the scene, unaware that shooting had stopped seconds earlier. See more »
When Thorne is talking to Sol in the "suicide facility", at one point the inter-phone starts malfunctioning and the "speaking permitted" light starts to blink.
If you look at the cable coming out from the lower-left corner of the device, you'll notice that they are obviously alternating two still frames to achieve the blinking effect, as it jumps erratically from one position to another. See more »
Voice over PA:
First stage removal. First stage removal. Streets prohibited to non-permits in one hour. Streets prohibited to non-permits in one hour.
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A smart sci-fi with an engaging vision of the future
It is the year 2022 and nothing has changed even if things have gotten worse. New York City has become even more overpopulated and is just yet another city heaving in its own filth with countless "have-nots" fighting over sparse resources. Energy supplies are low, water is strictly controlled, living spaces are small and cramped and "real" food is a luxury reserved for the very rich. The masses do not have such luxuries and eat rationed supplies of high-nutrient processed foods from the Soylent Corporation. Detective Thorn is a "have-not" and just like everyone else is out to get what he can for himself and friend Sol Roth. Called to a burglary that became a murder, Thorn learns that the victim is a director at Soylent and suspects that all the curious thing about the crimes may be coming together to be far more than the work of some random thug.
Famous for its "shock" ending (which everyone must know and most people will guess) this film is actually more than just one scene and is actually an intelligent sci-fi detective story that has an engaging central story and a generally interesting vision of the future that is much more convincing than the one of Hollywood blockbusters and such. The investigation is solid but it is the world it happens within that is most interesting as we see a world where, surprise surprise, the poor people are left to make do while those better off can still enjoy the finer things while they remain. It is not an earth shattering view of the future but it is a convincing one and I enjoyed being in this story and seeing this world played out. Personally I bought it but it may help that I mistrust corporations anyway and believe that the poor will be the first to get shafted when anything bad happens, simply because they have less to work with.
The narrative is not the strongest though and in terms of it being a detective story it could have been better. Some viewers have complained about the lack of action, which I think is a pretty unfair accusation since it wasn't trying to be that type of film. The main characters are interesting. Thorn is a man of authority but he is just like everyone else, out to get what he can and takes advantage of others the first chance he gets. His relationship with Roth is not fully explained but it worked anyway and provided a touch of humanity. It helps that both actors did good jobs of it as well. Heston normally plays the gruff hero but here at least he allows the corruption within man's heart to come out. Robinson has less of a character but his performance is assured and is touching for reasons internal and external to the film. Support is not so good but it is less important in the smaller roles; Cotton is a nice find though.
Overall this is a famous film that is good but not without its faults. The narrative is reasonably interesting and carries the film all the way to a nice (but too well-known) conclusion but it is in the general vision of the future of a world where the people are struggling to get by with resources running low. A smart sci-fi that is well worth seeing.
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