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This was Eddie Robinson's 101st film and his last,
and he died of cancer nine days after shooting was complete.
All of which makes his key scene in the movie all the more
Although some of the hair and clothing styles are a bit dated (also note the video game shown in the film), but the subject of the film is pretty much timeless. Heston said he had wanted to make the film for some time because he really believed in the dangers of overpopulation.
Several things make this film a classic. The story is solid.
The acting is top-notch, especially the interplay between Heston and Robinson, with nice performances also by Cotten and Peters.
The music is absolutely perfect. The medley of Beethoven, Grieg, and Tchaikovsky combined with the pastoral visual elements make for some truly moving scenes. This was the icing on the cake for the film.
And the theme (or the "point") of the film is a significant one. Yes, it's a film about overpopulation, but on a more important note it's a cautionary tale about what can go wrong with Man's stewardship of Earth. It's in the subtext that you find the real message of the film. Pay attention to what Sol says about the "old days" of the past (which is our present), and note how Thorn is incapable of comprehending what Sol is saying.
This film is one of my top sci-fi films of all time.
I saw this movie shortly after it first came out - when I was a kid. The scene that sticks with me to this day is when the scoops come to break up the riot. The cop says, "The supply of Soylent Green has been exhausted. The scoops are on the way." Then the front-end loader trucks come and scoop the people up like so much garbage. The fact that 2022 looks like 1973 is entirely plausible because society has gone retrograde. Charlton Heston's performance is beautifully nuanced and believable. Edward G. Robinson is unforgettable as Sol. References to this movie pop up in shows like "The Simpsons" and "Millennium" for the simple reason that it is a visionary look at the future with real heart - a true classic.
I saw Soylent Green back in 1973 when it was first released and maybe
another eight times over the years on T.V. or video. It was always one of my
favorite sci-fi and/or Charlton Heston films.
Recently, the Egyptian theater in L.A. had a twelve film Charlton Heston retrospective. I flew in from out of state to see six of the films over a two day period. Soylent Green looked great on the large Egyptian screen with a perfect new print. From its opening montage to the going home scene to the great ending the film was fantastic.
Charlton Heston as a cop who lives in a dog eat dog world with few natural resources left and no understanding as to how the world used to be and Eddie Robinson as a man who remembers the past are both great.
Their chemistry together is wonderful. The film also looks so much better in a great 35mm print. Fleisher really knows how to fill the screen,and the cinematoraphy, writing, music used, and everything about it works. The film is also very powerful in its bleak and very possible view of the future. Just think how the world population grew, the rain forest that disappeared, resources used up, green house effect getting worse since 1973. I just wonder why this film has not played in theaters all these years. Its reputation should be better.
Speaking of reputations, often people speak as if Charlton Heston is not a great actor. Seeing him in El-Cid, Soylent Green, The Warlord, The Omega Man, Will Penny, and Major Dundee back to back I am convinced he is one of our best actors. Of course he made about a dozen other great films and for those that care you know what they are.
Soylent Green IS...a really good movie, actually.
I never would've thought it. I don't really like Heston in his sci-fi efforts. He's one of those actors who, like Superman, manages to come across all sneery and invincible most of the time. I prefer more vulnerable heroes. And indeed, he sneers his way through much of Soylent Green, too, but as he's supposed to be playing an overconfident bully I don't really mind.
I can understand why some people would turn their noses up at this movie. Soylent Green makes no effort whatsoever to create futuristic visuals (what do you know - it looks just like 1973), and it's lacking in action. But I admired the film's vision of a complex, corrupt, and highly stratified society, and I was so pleased to see that Edward G. Robinson had such a moving, funny final role. Nice little character moments - like when he shares some precious food with Heston - really make the movie.
The message of Soylent Green is pretty relevant these days, when nobody seems to know what the hell the government or corporations are up to. Funny, isn't it, to see Heston in a prototype Michael Moore movie...
This is a brilliant sci-fi movie that is very strange in how men and
women both view the same film. I have talked to many people about the
film and almost every guy loved it and said it was brilliant--while
most women thought it was just disgusting and stupid! This is the only
movie I know of that has such polarized views based on gender. Perhaps
many women just have a lower tolerance for disgusting or depressing
plots--but whatever the cause, I have always found this difference
The film begins with a murder and a subsequent investigation headed by Charlton Heston. This is set in the near future and the head of the huge international Soylent Corporation has been assassinated. As the film unfolds, you quickly realize this is a terrible and highly inequitable future American society. The rich live in gorgeous apartments with security and all the pleasures money can buy(including "furniture"--a euphemism for paid mistresses that come along with the apartment). At the same time, the masses are dirt poor, unemployed and in many cases living in abandoned cars or apartment hallways. Overpopulation and smog have taken a severe toll and the future looks awful indeed!
Why the rich man died and the awful truth he could not live with I really should NOT discuss--it could ruin the film for you. However, the film has a great plot and acting and is super-exciting to watch. Plus, it features Edward G. Robinson in his final screen performance as the crusty sidekick to Heston. Though not for the easily depressed or squeamish, this is a great sci-fi film that is allegorical and profound.
Very interesting. The big twist wasn't as big a shock as maybe they had
hoped for and it was very dated but it did get my mind working. It
really got me thinking about a world without vegetation or livestock
and made me appreciate the world I live in a lot more. Charlton Heston
does a good job, as do all the supporting characters, and it was a very
realistic film which was surprising. It lacked direction at times and a
lot of the settings and background needed more explanation but it was
still a surprisingly good and intelligent movie. The main fault that I
could find was that I didn't want the film to end when it did, I would
have liked to see what happened next.
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.
I watched this film sort of by accident, having bought it as the B side on The Omega Man DVD. The Omega Man was a bit of a disappointment - except for the beginning, which was clearly the inspiration for 28 Days Later, the rest of it is just the stuff of TV movies. But Soylent Green is in a whole other league. I bet this is one of Tarantino's favourites. There are at least 3 scenes in the film that I've never seen anything like before. Heston casually getting into bed with the "furniture" while discussing something else completely unrelated! A whole crowd of people being scooped up by a fleet of mechanical diggers! A priest taking confession and being shot by the confessor. Ok maybe that's been done since - but there aren't many films that are so consistently original like this. And what the heck is going on between Heston and Edward G. Robinson? Is this the most unlikely gay couple ever, or what? Luckily, I saw this film without knowing the ending - which apparently is rare. Then I watched it again, and enjoyed all the little clues that make the long early scenes worthwhile. A very nice script - and some great sets too. Just when you thought you'd seen everything . . .
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The only other film besides Soylent Green that has such an air of
hopelessness is On the Beach. Both films deal with the consequences for
the species and the planet from man made cataclysms. On the Beach with
nuclear war and Soylent Green with the environmental poisoning of the
Maybe there's cause for some optimism because as of 2007 we haven't reached either of the worlds described in those films and we were supposed to by now. New York City still has about 8 million people not the 22 million by the turn of the millenia as described in Soylent Green. Environmentalists always hail this film as showing the consequence of global warming. For myself it also shows the Right to Life ethic run amuck. Obviously there's no family planning in this world either.
Charlton Heston is an NYPD detective who lives with room mate Edward G. Robinson who's old enough to remember the Earth before catastrophe struck. There's been a murder committed, Joseph Cotten an executive with the Soylent Corporation, a multi-national concern that has come up with a food product, some kind of wafer in many colors to feed the world's population. It's latest product is Soylent Green.
The investigation finds Charlton Heston getting his man, but also it leads to some horrifying truths about the Soylent Corporation and the future of mankind. As Heston shouts in the end that Soylent Green is made of people, that we've become a race of cannibals, the horrifying thing is that there is no alternative. We've exhausted the planet and we have to eat our dead to survive.
This was the farewell performance of Edward G. Robinson and in his memoirs Heston spoke movingly of Robinson even though they had differing political views. A few weeks after Robinson wrapped that final scene of his screen demise by consented euthanasia, he passed away in real life. Not many did, but Heston knew that Robinson was terminally ill and there was no acting involved in that final death scene between the two of them.
Though the timetable was off, it doesn't mean that the world envisioned by Soylent Green may not come to pass. Hopefully we'll have not just the intelligence, but the sense of shared responsibility to keep that from happening.
In 2022, Earth is overpopulated and totally polluted; the natural
resources have exhaust and the nourishment of the population is
supplied by the Soylent Industries, a food made by plankton from the
oceans. In New York, when the Soylent's member of the board William R.
Simonson (Joseph Cotton) is murdered apparently by a burglar at the
Chelsea Towers West where he lives, the efficient Detective Thorn
(Charlton Heston) is assigned to investigate the case with his partner
Solomon "Sol" Roth (Edward G. Robinson).
Thorn comes to the fancy apartment and meets Simonson's bodyguard Tab Fielding (Chuck Connors) and the "furniture" (woman that is rented together with the flat) Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young) and the detective concludes that the executive was not victim of burglary but executed. Further, he finds that the Governor Santini (Whit Bissell) and other powerful men want to disrupt and end his investigation. But Thorn continues his work and discovers that the oceans have exhausted and the bizarre and disturbing secret of the ingredient used to manufacture Soylent Green.
"Soylent Green" is one of the best sci-fi ever made and a film that has not aged. On the contrary, when I saw it in the movie theater in 1973, it was another good film with catastrophic view of the future. Along the years, I have seen this film on VHS at least four more times and every time that I see it, I find it better and better. In Brazil, this film has not been released on DVD or Blu-ray, only in the movie-theater in 1973 and on a rare VHS with the title "No Mundo de 2020" (translation: "In the World of 2020", despite the story takes place in 2022) and I have just bought the imported Blu-Ray and saw it again.
It is impressive how the writer Harry Harrison was capable to foresee the future in 1966 with pollution, overpopulation and menace of exhaustion of the natural resources and write his novel "Make Room! Make Room!". In those years, the concept of ecology did not exist, at least the same way in the present days. The grim view of the cannibalism to fee the population introduced by Stanley R. Greenberg in the screenplay fortunately has not been achieved yet.
"Soylent Green" is also the film number 101 in the career of the unforgettable actor Edward G. Robinson that was with cancer and almost deaf during the shooting and died two weeks after the conclusion of this film. The Blu-Ray has in the extras a tribute to this great actor. My vote is ten.
Title (Brazil): "No Mundo de 2020" ("In the World of 2020")
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