Logan's Run (1976)
It's 2274 and on the surface, it all seems to be an idyllic society. Living in a city within an enclosed dome, there is little or no work for humans to perform and inhabitants are free to pursue all of the pleasures of life. There is one catch however: your life is limited and when you reach 30, it is terminated in a quasi-religious ceremony known as Carousel. Some, known as runners, do try to escape their fate when the time comes and it's the job of Sandmen to track them down and kill them. Logan is such a man and with several years before his own termination date, thinks nothing of the job he does. Soon after meeting a young woman, Jessica-6, he is ordered to become a runner himself and infiltrate a community outside the dome known as Sanctuary and to destroy it. Pursued by his friend Francis, also a Sandman, Logan and Jessica find their way to the outside. There they discover a beautiful, virtually uninhabited world. Logan realizes that he must return to the dome to tell them what he's found and be set free.
Logan, a Sandman (police assassin), is forced to search for "Sanctuary" - a place to which people have apparently escaped from the sealed city of the future in which he lives. Jessica is caught up along the way and becomes his companion fugitive as they are both pursued by Francis, a fellow Sandman. Sanctuary is not what they expect.
In the 23rd century, the survivors of a holocaust now lives within a domed city that is sealed off from the outside world. In the domed city, men and women live in a society where you can only live until you are 30-years old (due to population control and limited resources), the people have two choices: They can either take part in a extermination ceremony called "Carousel" where they are promised a rebirth or they can go on the run and escape to outside the domed city. Logan 5 is a Sandman, a elite policeman whose job is terminate all "Runners" who refuse to be exterminated on Carousel and escape to outside the city. When Logan finds a symbol, the computer that controls all life in the city, gives Logan a undercover assignment to find and destroy a mysterious place called Sanctuary by posing as a runner, by removing the last four years of his life from his life crystal. Now on the run himself, and hunted by his partner and best friend Francis 7, Logan and a woman named Jessica 6 working for a underground resistance group that are helping all Runners search for Sanctuary escapes from the domed city and find themselves in a devastated Washington D.C, where Logan and Jessica discover another world and find there is much to live for and Logan begins to question the system.
It is 2274. Some type of holocaust has decimated the earth, and the survivors sealed themselves into a domed city near Washington, D.C. To maintain the population balance, the computers that run the city have decreed that all people must die at 30. This system is enforced by "sandmen" : black-clad police operatives who terminate (kill) "runners" (those who attempt to live beyond 30). Logan, a sandman, is sent on a mission to find "sanctuary," which is a code- word used by the master computer to describe what it believes is a place to which runners have been escaping. Logan begins to question the system he serves and after seeing for himself that there is life beyond the dome, he returns to destroy the computer.
In the year 2274, after the world has been decimated by a holocaust, a new society is built and resides in a domed city. However, it is forbidden for humans to live beyond 30 and you are given two choices, either to go through a ritual called Carousel with the promise of being "renewed", or go on the run and risk being hunted down by an elite police force known as Sandmen. Logan 5 is just such a man, and when he and his partner Francis 7 find and kill a runner, Logan takes an ankh symbol which identifies a person as a runner. When the computers of the city find out that Logan is in possession of the amulet, they order him to go undercover and find Sanctuary, the place where all the runners go to live out the rest of their lives. To ensure this, the computer adds four years to the time crystal on his palm to make it appear that he is on the verge of turning 30. Logan then meets up with Jessica 6, a member of the underground group that helps runners escape to Sanctuary. Logan then begins to run, but in the process realizes that there is much to live for and that he is just entering the prime of his life.
An idyllic sci-fi future has one major drawback: life must end at the age of 30.
- An opening title sets the scene:
Sometime in the 23rd century... the survivors of war, overpopulation and pollution are living in a great domed city, sealed away from the forgotten world outside. Here, in an ecologically balanced world, mankind lives only for pleasure, freed by the servo-mechanisms which provide everything.
There's just one catch: Life must end at thirty unless reborn in the fiery ritual of carousel.
To maintain the ecology of the system of domes that makes up the city, both reproduction and death are carefully controlled by a monolithic master computer. Sex is readily available but there are no long-term relationships. You can dial up a sex partner on "the circuit" or visit orgy rooms filled with people of both sexes and clouds of aphrodisiac gas. Babies grow in glass boxes; implanted in each infant's left palm is a life clock, a penny-sized crystal that starts out white and changes color as the years go by. People dress to match their crystal: yellow for a child, green at 16, and red a few years later. Your crystal flashes red as you approach "lastday" -- your 30th birthday. On lastday, you're expected to report to an arena for Carousel, the ceremony that will, you have always been told, result in your renewal and rebirth. In fact, you stand in a circle with your age-mates, float to the ceiling when the gravity is turned off, get zapped with lasers, and disintegrate in a cloud of sparks. During the spectacle, ominous music is piped in while hundreds of younger folks applaud and shout "renew!" to cheer you on.
If this doesn't sound good, your alternative is to become a runner. Runners are criminals and are hunted down and terminated by policemen known as sandmen, who wear black. The city dwellers believe that there is no renewal for runners.
Logan-5 (Michael York), a sandman, is in the nursery, knocking on the glass that separates him from a pair of infants; he's trying to wake one up. He tells his friend and fellow sandman Francis-7 (Richard Jordan) that the baby is Logan-6, his son. Francis thinks hanging around the nursery is a little odd and teases Logan that he knows who the baby's seed-mother is. "I'm curious, not sick," Logan retorts.
Logan and Francis attend a Carousel but have to leave early when they receive a report of a runner. The runner is killed in a fall trying to escape them and Logan removes a silver ankh (☥) from the dead man's hand. At home that night, Logan browses the circuit and chooses a woman called Jessica-6 (Jenny Agutter), a green who wears a silver ankh on a choker. She declines to sleep with him, saying she went on the circuit because she was sad about losing a friend in that day's Carousel, but now regrets it; they argue about whether Carousel participants die, whether sandmen are killers, and whether it's wrong to run.
The next day, Logan turns in the ankh he took from the runner. The master computer (voice: Lara Lindsay) recognizes the significance of the ankh. It tells Logan that 1056 runners are unaccounted for and are believed to have escaped the city and fled to a place called Sanctuary. Logan is to go under cover, find Sanctuary, and destroy it. To make him a plausible runner, the computer overrides Logan's life clock so that it begins to flash red immediately, though he's 4 years from his lastday. The computer doesn't answer when he asks whether he'll get his 4 years back.
Remembering the ankh around Jessica's neck, Logan sends for her and attempts to convince her that he wishes to find Sanctuary. She agrees to help him after he lets a runner go. She leads him through an orgy room to a secret exit where they meet members of the resistance who are very suspicious of Logan, despite his flashing red life clock. They're right to be suspicious; Logan activates his communicator to lead the other sandmen -- who are unaware of Logan's undercover mission -- to the secret exit and the resistance cadre guarding it. Logan was counting on sending Jessica back to the city, but she's starting to fall for him and insists on coming with him to Sanctuary. When the sandmen arrive Logan won't risk Jessica's life; he runs in earnest, taking Jessica with him. Francis is hard on their heels.
Using the ankh to unlock a door, Logan and Jessica escape from the city through the water system and find themselves in an icy cave. They have a close call with a homicidal robot named Box (Roscoe Lee Browne), who captures runners and freezes them -- they see a long corridor lined with people he's frozen. He seems to have been designed to capture food from the outside ("fish and plankton and sea greens and protein from the sea!"), but when it stopped coming he adapted and now harvests runners instead. When he tries to harvest Logan and Jessica, Logan fights back and brings down part of the cave, disabling Box. The fugitives find a tunnel that leads to the outside world. They're not sure what the bright thing in the sky is, but they're glad it's warm. Francis still follows at a distance.
The Earth has healed since the disaster. In the wilderness outside the city, the runners are disappointed not to find Sanctuary right away and grow tired and thirsty looking for it. But the landscape is healthy, and soon they find a river to swim in. In the water, they notice that their life clock crystals have stopped functioning and turned white again -- the color of a baby's crystal. Jessica and Logan interpret this as indicating they are no longer bound by the rules of the city and its 30-year limit. They fall in love, and Logan abandons his secret mission. But there are no other people, not even other runners.
They explore, finding their way to the overgrown ruins of Washington D.C. (shown on screen with award-winning post-apocalyptic special effects). When they discover the Lincoln Memorial, they are confused by Lincoln's appearance; "That must be what it looks like to grow old," Logan says. Searching for signs of life, they find some gravestones marked "beloved husband" and "beloved wife," and wonder what the strange words mean. Then in the ruins of the Capitol, they encounter an eccentric white-bearded old man (Peter Ustinov) and his many cats. The old man has no crystal in his hand; he reminisces about being raised by his own mother and father and recites passages from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot. This is all nonsense to Logan and Jessica, who have never lived in a family or seen a cat.
After quizzing the old man about other people and finding he's never seen or heard of any except his own parents, Logan tries to convince Jessica that there is no Sanctuary. There's no evidence that anyone before them made it past Box. She can't accept it.
They are discovered by Francis, who refuses to listen to what they have to say. He attacks Logan; after a fight, Logan kills him by bludgeoning him with an American flag. As he dies, Francis looks at Logan's white crystal and says "Logan, you renewed!"
The three of them bury Francis, and the old man gets Jessica to promise that she'll bury him when his time comes. When Logan hears that, he says they can't keep the promise because they have to go back to the city, destroy all the life clocks, and stop the killing. Jessica resists the plan until they hit on the idea of bringing the old man along; he'll convince the city people that life after 30 and life outside the city are possible.
They hike back to the city, but are forced to leave the old man waiting outside while they re-enter the domes through the water system. They promise to bring the city-dwellers out to meet him. They fail; not only do the people ignore their news, but sandmen come and arrest them.
The city's master computer interrogates Logan using a memory probe and becomes confused and overloaded by the memories it finds ("there is no Sanctuary ... all frozen ... an old man ... all ruined .... no Sanctuary"), which don't conform to the computer's expectations. The computer malfunctions and Logan fights off a group of sandmen to escape with Jessica, doing further damage to the computer in the process. The ensuing chain reaction wreaks havoc on the city. Fleeing the explosions, the inhabitants go outside and gather curiously around the old man, who is delighted to see them.