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A classic even after 30 years
Loadmaster15 August 2003
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 poignant.

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.
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a true classic
aurorastudios30 September 2004
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.
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A smart sci-fi with an engaging vision of the future
bob the moo2 April 2006
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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travis-4627 March 2001
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.
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Far deeper and intelligent than what first meets the eye
MartinHafer19 July 2006
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 fascinating.

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.
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A surprisingly thought-provoking movie
AdamWhite142111 July 2004
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.

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Soylent Green Is...
virek21325 July 2007
The world of the 1973 sci-fi drama SOYLENT GREEN is what we could be seeing if we aren't careful. It is a world in which New York City's population has topped the 40 million mark in the year 2022. Overpopulation, air pollution, year-long heat waves, and food shortages are the rule. The only hope comes from a food product called Soylent Green. But what is this particular food stuff really made of? That question is at the heart of this admittedly somewhat dated but still intriguing film, based on Harry Harrison's 1966 novel "Make Room! Make Room!" Charlton Heston stars as Thorne, an NYPD detective who comes across the murder of a top corporate executive (Joseph Cotten). As it turns out, Cotten was on the board of directors of the Soylent Corporation, the people responsible for all those food stuffs that the people have to consume in lieu of the real thing. Heston believes that this wasn't just a garden-variety murder, that Cotten was bumped off for a reason. He gets a lot of help from his slightly cantankerous but very astute "book" (Edward G. Robinson, in his 101st and final cinematic appearance), and a few timely reminders of what the world used to be like. What Robinson finds out about Soylent Green shocks him beyond all imagination; but before he can tell Heston all of what he knows, he has himself euthanized. And when Heston does indeed find out the secret of Soylent Green...well, that part has become immortalized into cinematic history.

Under the very professional guiding hand of director Richard Fleischer (THE BOSTON STRANGLER; FANTASTIC VOYAGE), SOYLENT GREEN is a fairly grim but thought-provoking look at a Dystopian future that humanity might be living if we don't curb our tendency to strip our planet of its natural resources. Indeed, this was a project that Heston himself had had in mind for filming as far back as 1968, after he had struck gold in the sci-fi genre with PLANET OF THE APES--a fact that probably gets lost whenever his ultra-conservative political philosophy comes up in conversation (after all, SOYLENT GREEN is hardly a tract for unrestrained capitalism). Robinson, as always, is the consummate professional in his last role; the sequence where he is euthanized (as he looks at video of the world from a better era, set to the music of Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and Grieg) is quite simply heartbreaking. The film also benefits from solid supporting help from Chuck Connors (as a very convincing heavy), Brock Peters (as Heston's superior), and Leigh Taylor-Young as the woman who tries to help Heston in his inquiries.

It must seem easy these days to dismiss SOYLENT GREEN for being dated. But those who do it ought to think twice; for this film's world may end up becoming ours in actuality if we don't watch what we do with what we have today.
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A Sci-Fi Film that Has not Aged
Claudio Carvalho9 October 2011
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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A Hopeless World
bkoganbing4 January 2007
Warning: 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 planet.

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.
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remember, before Star Wars, when sci-fi was smart?
dr_foreman1 July 2004
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...
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One of the Great Heston Science Fiction Films
gavin694210 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
In an overpopulated futuristic Earth, a New York police detective (Charlton Heston) 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.

I have checked the spoiler box because I may accidentally say too much about the end. I think just about everyone knows what the "twist" is in this movie, but I will try to be careful just the same. The twist is, in fact, the worst part of this film. Rather than being the big shocker that it should be, audiences have enough hints throughout the picture that it should be anticlimactic by the time everything is revealed. And that is just too bad.

Unfortunately, that build up tends to be the bulk of the film (because of how it ties in to the primary plot -- a murder investigation). The murder case and eventual reveal could have actually been done in just about any world. Yet, here we have a world of overpopulation, poverty, women being used as "furniture"... and these concepts are never really explored. Why do people sleep on the stairs rather than in the street? If the world is overheated, I would much rather be in an alley than a staircase!

Charlton Heston is great, of course, but the heart and soul of this movie are in Edward G. Robinson. Making this film while almost completely deaf and dying of cancer, he is the most human character in the film. He may be the only one who remembers the world the way it used to be, the way we (the audience) expect the world to be. Robinson nails it, giving the performance of his career. I love his noir and gangster work, but this was tops.
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Very Thought Provoking
hackraytex14 July 2017
I saw this in 1973 and listed it in my list of movies that I had seen and could not find. A very pleasant surprise that it was just shown on the Comet Network. One of Charleton Heston's best but certainly not his last best. A lot of people dismiss the work of this fine actor simply because his politics were not what they would call politically correct.

I really think we would all be better off if our celebrities would keep their politics to themselves unless they wish to run for office. This is certainly not a forum to discuss politics just like it is probably never a good idea to discuss politics in the work place today. We all have the right to our opinions and should respect the opinions of others and should not crowd those with whom we may disagree.

As for this fine movie, after 44 years, it still holds up well. I have read in places that there is an effort to remake it and that would be interesting. I certainly think it would be a good project for Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Charleton Heston part since a lot of physical "grunt work" is not required. It was certainly a fine farewell performance part for Edward G. Robinson. Rest in peace all of you. Well done.
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The 1970s was another mighty fine decade for science-fiction.
Scott LeBrun20 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Nowadays, it's easy to suspect governments and big corporations of just about any nefarious doings. And there's a sinister plot afoot here to deal with an Earth of a future year (2022, just five years away in reality), where the "greenhouse effect" and over population have turned the planet into a portrait of Hell. For example, the opening text tells us that there are 40,000,000 people in NYC alone. A hard-driving NYPD detective, Thorn (Charlton Heston), stumbles onto something big when he investigates the murder of Simonson (Joseph Cotten), a corporation bigwig.

Partly because this movie has been in the public consciousness for so long, it's hard to imagine many people not knowing what the story's big reveal is. You of course won't hear it from this viewer, but it's not hard to figure out. Still, the plot constructed by novelist Harry Harrison (originally titled "Make Room! Make Room!") is intriguing enough to pull you in, and keep you entertained. It might not be quite meaty or involved enough for some "tastes", mind you. Part of Thorn discovering the big secret involves our wrongdoers not seeming to go to great lengths to keep it hidden.

One of the most impressive marvels is the use of extras, as MGM and director Richard Fleischer (of the classic Disney adaptation of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea") give us an amazing depiction of overcrowding. For instance, every day, on his way to work, Thorn has to clamber over dozens of bodies filling the corridors and stairways of his run down building. Excellent use is made of classical music, both pre-existing and new stuff composed by Fred Myrow ("Phantasm").

The cast is full of reliable, familiar actors: Chuck Connors, Brock Peters, Paula Kelly, Stephen Young, Mike Henry, Lincoln Kilpatrick, Roy Jenson, Leonard Stone, Whit Bissell, Celia Lovsky, Dick Van Patten. Leigh Taylor-Young is beautiful and endearing as Shirl, a young woman living in a future where a young woman can be referred to as "furniture" and simply come with an apartment. Heston is solid as usual, but "Soylent Green" really belongs to the wonderful Edward G. Robinson, around 80 years old at the time and making his 101st feature film appearance. Sadly, it would turn out to be his last, making his final scenes even more poignant and powerful.

This is definitely striking entertainment, even more when one considers the ending.

Eight out of 10.
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A cop investigates a strange murder in an overcrowded New York City and discovers terrible consequences
ma-cortes23 April 2012
This is a superb sci-fi movie upon a classic novel by Harry Harrison titled : Make room ! Make room ! . In 2022, the population of New York has about forty million inhabitants living in miserable conditions and grossly overcrowded , a real hellhole , and Manhattan has become a big rubbish . In the overpopulated futuristic city , a New York police detective named "Thorn (Charlton Heston) , 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 . Food is so scarce and to combat hunger the government creates a strange product , a synthetic food made of soybeans and lentils , the "Soylent Green¨ (title refers to a precious stuff) for people to eat , but the cop and his old partner named Roth (Edward G. Robinson), a survivor from another era , are investigating killing of bigwig , and they suspect the tracks behind the new food result to be a little unsettling . In the process , Thorn stumbles onto explosive secret .

Richard Fleischer creates a magnificent science fiction film without special effects and full of intrigue , melodrama , thrills , suspense , fights and interesting issues . Charlton Heston starred a pessimistic but well-intentioned trilogy about Distopian Earth : ¨Soylent Green¨ along with "The Planet of the Apes" and "The Omega Man", all great films . The whole film has a great originality from the point of view narrative , dealing with a cop who investigates and discovers an incredible government secret . It has a great argument for a very bitter ending , which is accompanied by a sensible musical score . The best moments are in the privacy of starring Charlton Heston and especially by the presence of Edward G. Robinson in his last film , a kind of testament of his own life where Robinson says us goodbye . 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 .The music which played when Edward G. Robinson was "going home" is the following : The overture was the principal theme from the first movement of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, the "Pathetique." When the visual presentation starts, the music is the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's "Symphony nº6 ,The Pastoral". When the flock of sheep appear, the music is "Morning" from Edvard Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite .

The director Fleischer , shows that we do not need special effects to carry out the horror of the prophecies of Malthus . The last fifteen years the Richard Fleischer's films were not exactly very bright , filming Charles Bronson or Chuck Norris vehicles , but in his first twenty-five years had proved his own right as one of the most interesting directors of American commercial cinema . He was an expert director , including adventure classics (Vikings, 20.000 leagues under sea) and noir cinema (Narrow margin , Clay pigeons , Trapped) . The film will appeal to Sci-Fi buffs with enough though-provoking themes to make it worth looking in on . In other words, it seem likely Charlton Heston enthusiasts and juvenile viewers will be delighted because thrills, action and intrigue are brilliantly presented and edited to offer the maximum impact . Rating : Better than average , watchable movie and well worth seeing .
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Fleischer films a superb science fiction film without special effects.
psagray22 May 2011
In 2022, the population of New York has some forty million inhabitants live in miserable conditions. To combat hunger creates a synthetic food, the "soylent green ", but the police "Thorn (Charlton Heston), and the old Roth (Edward G. Robinson), a survivor from another era, they suspect that behind the new food is a little unsettling.

This is a superb sci-fi film. A pessimistic trilogy, along with "The Planet of the Apes" and "The Omega Man", all great films and starring Charlton Heston. The whole film almost has a great originality from the point of view narrative detective novel happening of futuristic melodrama in seconds. Have a great argument for a very bitter end, which is accompanied by a musical score.

The director Fleischer, shows that we do not need special effects to film the horror of the prophecies of Malthus. The last fifteen years the Richard Fleischer's films were not exactly very bright, but in his twenty-five years had been his own right one of the most interesting direct American commercial cinema.

The best moments are in the privacy starring Charlton Heston and especially by the presence of Edward G. Robinson in his last film, a kind of testament of his own where Robinson says us goodbye.
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Disturbing Flick
ewarn-15 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This was a very thought provoking film, especially for 1973. At the time it was actually a huge box office success. After the 1970s it appeared to be forgotten, but its central messages were too important to disappear completely.It was actually at least fifteen years ahead of its one had ever heard of the 'greenhouse effect'before 1985, and the controversial subject of euthanasia was rarely brought up.

The sets and special effects might look a little outdated, but big money for sci fi films was a gamble in that period. If you look closely you will see everything usually makes sense. This is a message movie, not for zonked out star wars fans that cant sit through one minute of thought stimulation unless it contains a million bucks worth of explosions.

This was also Hestons last good film, the end of his famous dystopian sci fi trilogy. After that it was all overblown disaster epics and big budget crowd pleasing trash. THis might not be the most amusing two hour movie ever made, and the ending might be creepy and depressing, but its hard to find any film producer with guts anymore who would tackle a subject like this.
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a great surprise - highly enjoyable.
i-dunning13 April 2004
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 . . .
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Very believable.
magellan33324 January 2004
This movie paints a very bleak future for planet Earth. What makes this movie so good is that the future seen may very well be a reality someday. A poisoned environment, an overpopulated planet and total disregard for human life all seem to be in there early stages today. Soylent Green is a very good and very believable film.
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A thought provoking tale of our future?
guylyons27 February 2017
I saw this fantastic film, with no knowledge of what it was about. The viewer is treated to a very visionary look at our planets future, and it is rather a disturbing one at that. Heston is superbly cast as the hero, and to see E G Robinson in his last film, makes it all the better for our appreciation. I have seen it at least three times, and found the film compelling viewing. The special effects could be criticised, but as the story unfolds, you simply wont care, because the film is so darned good.I hope they don't ever remake this fine film, all because i cannot think of a better actor than Charlton Heston, for the leading role.
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Absolute classic and essential sci fi starring the legendary Charlton Heston
dworldeater5 January 2017
Soylent Green is an excellent dystopian science fiction classic starring Charlton Heston. Along with Planet Of The Apes and The Omega Man, Soylent Green is in the same vein and is very entertaining, cerebral and well made all around. This very bleak, but socially relevant and thought provoking film is a cautionary tale that is grounded in scientific fact and where we could be headed if we don't make drastic changes. The year is 2022 and is set in NYC, where it is overcrowded, polluted and resources such as food and water are scarce. Charlton Heston is a police detective that is investigating a murder, which leads him to uncover some disturbing facts that are trying to be buried by The Soylent Corporation, who is a primary food source and distributor to the majority of the population worldwide. Leigh Taylor Young is "furniture", owned by the building and her job is to please her wealthy male tenants, while getting to live a life far more comfortable than most people could dream of as her reward for her services. Her husband/tenant was murdered and ends up being love interest for our leading man Heston. Heston, was a lucky man and Leigh Taylor Young was gorgeous. This was the final film for screen legend Edward G Robinson and had a great rapport and chemistry with Heston. The film is gritty and grimy and paints a nightmare picture of the future. Richard Fleisher did his best work with this film and is a great sci fi thriller with lots of social commentary and suspense. Soylent Green is an absolute classic and is every bit as good and as important as the original Planet Of The Apes.
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Brad Lacey13 February 2006
"Remember, before Star Wars, when sci-fi was smart?" wrote one IMDb reviewer, apparently astounded at the intellectual merits of this film, the 1973 adaptation of Harry Harrison's novel, Soylent Green.

I know, I'm supposed to be reviewing the film here too, but let me start off pointing out everything that's wrong with the above statement - sure, there were plenty of intelligent sci-fi films before Star Wars, like the original Solaris (1972), Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville (1965) and Chris Marker's La Jetee (1962) amongst others, but it's not as if Star Wars set in motion an out-of-control train wreck of brainlessness.

In fact, in the time since Star Wars, we've had Terry Gilliam's superb Jetee-inspired Twelve Monkeys (1995), The Matrix (1999 - the first one had plenty of brains) and Dark City (1998), to name only a few. Perhaps the argument might only be made that the genre took some time to recover from the action-oriented Star Wars, but the fact remains.

The main flaw here is the idea that Soylent Green is a great example of an intelligent film. It's not. A dystopian look into the future and a bunch of unhappy humans does not necessarily turn a mediocre story into a great one, and nothing the film puts in place does anything to change that. Heston is his usual wooden, masculine posturing self, and the only bright sparks amongst the actors come from Edward G Robinson's last role as Sol, and the police inspector.

The story is so well-trodden by now that it's essentially common knowledge, and it's not a horrible one. But the circumstances are obvious predictions to make if you have a pessimistic enough mind, and the "surprise twist" has nothing on that of the other famous Heston vehicle, Planet of the Apes.

But the film soldiers on. There are good things about it - the moments of calm between Sol and Thorn are occasionally poignant - like when Thorn brings home rare foods - vegetables and even meat. Robinson's face tells a story that Heston couldn't approach in a million years. Affecting also is Sol's departure, staring up with wonder into an enormous television screen of fields and waterfalls.

Unfortunately, things that could easily have been strengths are not acted upon. The film's sets are cheap and badly made - but where Godard, in the aforementioned Alphaville - used his limited sets and location shooting to enact a commentary on his modern day society, in Soylent it is a mere distraction from the story.

For all its faults though, Soylent Green trots along at a fairly even kilter, and though its story provides little new (even, when one considers the amount of science-fiction literature around, in its time), it is occasionally thought provoking, and certainly still relevant - perhaps even more so - in these days of political unrest and global warming. Just don't get sucked into thinking Soylent Green is the bastion of science-fiction cinema, because it isn't even close.
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The Best Environmental Film Of Its Era
Theo Robertson19 May 2003
As with all environmentally aware films from the 1970s SOYLENT GREEN has a rather cheesy view of what ecological meltdown is . Overpopulation means there`s too many people to feed ? I was under the impression that famines were caused by either war or failed economic policies . Stalin`s policy in the Soviet Union in the 1930s left millions dead because of famine and to this day the greatest man made tragedy was Mao`s rural policy in China which led over 30 million starvation deaths in the 1950s . And let`s not forget the great famines in the horn of Africa in the 1980s and 90s which were to do with conflicts not overpopulation . You might like to also consider that two of the most heavily populated areas on Earth , Hong Kong and Macau , have never suffered a famine in modern times . Likewise the expansion of shanty towns around cities as seen here isn`t strictly down to overpopulation - it`s down to economic factors where people flock to cities to find better paid work than in the countryside ( It`s a symptom of industrial progress - not of too many births ) so the image of the streets of New York city being too congested to walk through and of having people sleep in stairwells is somewhat laughable

But don`t be fooled into thinking SOYLENT GREEN is a pile of corny tree hugging crap because I consider this to be the best ecological film of the

70s . It plays on the contempary audience`s knowledge of the world where Sol and Thorn are beside themselves with joy at finding fruit , brandy and fresh meat . Thorn gasps in amazement at having ice in his whisky , puffs on a cigarette and delivers the classic line " If I could afford it I`d smoke two , maybe three of these a day " . But it`s the visage of the euthanasia chamber that`s memorable as Thorn gazes at the images of wild animals , flowers , running water and snow covered mountains , a world Thorn`s generation has never known . This is a very haunting scene which makes SOYLENT GREEN a very memorable film , combined with the fact it features the final screen appearance of Edward G Robinson as the wise old Jew Sol Roth
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An extremely engrossing and thought-provoking film which effectively paints a picture of a bleak, hopeless world
GusF2 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Loosely based on the 1966 novel "Make Room! Make Room!" by Harry Harrison, this is an extremely engrossing and thought-provoking film. Set in 2022, it depicts a world which is suffering from chronic overpopulation - New York alone has a population of 40 million - and a perpetual heatwave caused by the greenhouse effect. As a result, resources have been severely depleted and things such as meat, eggs, soap, clean water and even new paper are luxuries enjoyed by the idle rich. Food, if you can call it that, is derived from high energy plankton by the Soylent company. Real food may be expensive but life is cheap as the world has become a dark, unfeeling, depressing and cold (figuratively if not literally!) place. The terrible state of the world has brought out the worst in human nature and I have to say that it is very realistic in that respect. The highest position that any young woman can aspire to is to be the concubine - or "furniture" - of a wealthy man. This provides some very good social commentary on sexism and the objectification of women. As with another Charlton Heston film "Planet of the Apes" (1968) and another Joseph Cotten film "Citizen Kane", I was aware of the final revelation long before I saw the film due to pop culture osmosis but that did not effect my enjoyment of it in any way. The film has an excellent script by Stanley R. Greenberg and the direction of Richard Fleischer, a master in the art of maintaining tension, is superb.

Charlton Heston gives an extremely good performance as the protagonist Detective Thorn. He is an extremely bitter and cynical man but this is hardly unusual given the society in which he has grown up. However, he shows a softer side when it comes to his relationship with his elderly and increasingly infirm researcher / "book" Sol Roth, whom he cares for and is hinted to love like a father. This is also seen in his relationship with the furniture Shirl. At first, he treats her with the same mild contempt that he treats most people and things. He demands sex from her during his investigation but this is seemingly standard practice for a furniture so she is in no way offended or even surprised. However, over the course of the film, Thorn becomes genuinely fond of her and protective of her. She is played well by a young Leigh Taylor-Young, the film's last surviving star who will hopefully live to see the real 2022.

The best performance in the film, however, comes from Edward G. Robinson. After a hugely impressive career spanning more than five decades, this was Robinson's final film. At the time that it was made, he was in the final stages of bladder cancer and he therefore knew that he was going to die very soon. This knowledge likely influenced his performance as the world weary Sol Roth, the oldest character who regularly hearkens back to a time when food was plentiful and there were seasons. The best and most moving scene in the film involves Sol going to a euthanasia clinic - or "going home" - as he is unable to live with the terrible secret of Soylent Green. There is a beautiful moment in which Thorn is reduced to tears by footage of wild animals (hinted to be extinct), rivers and mountains, all of which he is too young to remember. This was the last scene that Robinson ever filmed and he died less than two weeks later.

It was an excellent idea to cast Joseph Cotten as the former Soylent executive William R. Simonson, whose murder Thorn investigates throughout the film. He only has two scenes but he was a wonderful actor and brings a great deal of pathos to his performance as the guilt-stricken Simonson, one of the wealthiest men in New York. Not only that but the casting of an old Hollywood star in the role meant that Fleischer successfully subverted the audience's expectations as they would assume that an actor of his standing and calibre would have much a bigger role. The film also features great performances from Brock Peters as Thorn's superior Lt. Hatcher (depicting a black man in a position of authority over a white man was still quite unusual in 1973 so I appreciated that), Chuck Connors as Simonson's suitably intimidating bodyguard Tab Fielding, Whit Bissell as Governor Santini, Leonard Stone as Charles and, in her final film, Celia Lovsky as the Exchange Leader.

Overall, this is an excellent film which is extremely effective in painting a picture of a bleak, hopeless world on the brink. I can't imagine it having much of a future.
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Amazing and Thought Provoking
Scars_Remain7 August 2008
I just finished 1973's Soylent Green and am blown away by how awesome it was and how I have heard so little about it. I feel that it is a unfairly overlooked classic that it still very terrifying and real to this very day. I found similarities in this movie to A Boy and His Dog, A Clockwork Orange, and Mad Max. And while I love and cherish all of those films, I really think this is the best of them. I can't tell you enough how great it really is.

Charlton Heston, Leigh Taylor-Young Edward G. Robinson are all amazing in their roles and especially Robinson who was almost completely deaf and dying of cancer. The story is brilliant. It's one of those stories that inspired me to go out and write something and see what I come up with. I loved everything else too, the action, the effects, the dialog. It's all wonderful.

I think this film is a necessity for film lovers everywhere. It will make you think and even creep you out at the same time. See it!
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