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Silent Running (1972)

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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.

Director:

Douglas Trumbull

Writers:

Deric Washburn, Michael Cimino (as Mike Cimino) | 1 more credit »
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bruce Dern ... Freeman Lowell
Cliff Potts Cliff Potts ... John Keenan
Ron Rifkin ... Marty Barker
Jesse Vint ... Andy Wolf
Mark Persons Mark Persons ... the Drone
Steven Brown Steven Brown ... the Drone
Cheryl Sparks Cheryl Sparks ... the Drone
Larry Whisenhunt Larry Whisenhunt ... the Drone
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Amazing companions on an incredible adventure... that journeys beyond imagination! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 March 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Running Silent See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Mono (35 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Red Dwarf (1988) creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor cited Silent Running (1972) as one of their influences behind the BBC sci-fi sitcom. In Red Dwarf: D.N.A. (1991), Lister (Craig Charles) tells Rimmer (Craig Charles) and Cat (Danny John-Jules) a story about visiting a botanical garden aboard Red Dwarf after he was dumped by his girlfriend Kochanski. See more »

Goofs

When repairing Huey, Freeman used hemostats to clamp on and remove a circuit board from its socket. That has never been a valid way of removing a circuit board, especially back when the movie was made. Circuit boards in sockets like that have always had special methods of being removed to prevent any shorting out or arcing of circuits, such as a puller that attaches to special holes, or spring-loaded clips on the edges that release the board when the clips are released. You never touch the surface of a board with anything metallic, even if the board is coated with an insulator. See more »

Quotes

Freeman Lowell: [after jettisoning the last dome with Dewey] You know when I was a kid, I put a note into a bottle and it had my name and address on it. And then I threw the bottle into the ocean. And I never knew if anybody ever found it.
[presses button on nuclear charge, destroying his ship]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in FantastiCozzi (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Silent Running
Lyrics by Diane Lampert
Music by Peter Schickele
Performed by Joan Baez
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
You Can't Blow Up My Forest
4 May 2006 | by EtherdaveSee all my reviews

Universal Studios funded several low-budget productions in the early seventies. By far the best to come out of this program was 'Silent Running', an ecologically-minded 'message film' that stands out today as one of the truly great films of the science-fiction genre.

Bruce Dern stars as Freeman Lowell, a futuristic Park Ranger minding Earth's last forests, sealed in gigantic domes aboard an equally gigantic freighter in space. When ordered to destroy the domes and return home, Lowell is forced to choose between his crewmates and his beloved forests.

The motif of a polluted, or simply, homogenized Earth, the ultimate triumph of human progress over nature and wilderness, is a standard theme of science fiction in the 20th century, and the film is not too different from many other films and episodic television programs seen since the postwar period. Rarely, however, has the theme been explored from the point of view of ecological ethics. The storyline is kept deliberately simple, and asks not the question 'How Would You Act In Such A Position', it merely shows how one particular man might. The characters are given seminal, yet subtle opportunities to flesh themselves out (comments made during meals and card games are particularly noteworthy), and even if the character of Lowell is ultimately dislikeable, he remains oddly sympathetic. Dern produces a remarkable performance here, as a tortured, perhaps even mentally-ill, loner. His work here is still fresh and understated and certainly not of the over-the-top calibre, despite the insistances of some.

The film possesses truly amazing visual images, from the spacecraft itself (the decommissioned and soon-to-be-scrapped aircraft carrier Valley Forge) to the domes (an aircraft hanger at Van Nuys Airport) to the unforgettable Drones, uncanny little robots designed around the amputee-actors that give them life. Visual effects are excellent, the direct prototypes of even more fantastical films to come. The music, composed for the film by Peter Schickele (known internationally as P.D.Q. Bach), is by turns boldly triumphant, softly mournful, and is quite effective; some viewers may hate the vocal work of Joan Baez, but she is a logical choice for this production and time period.

While many films have suffered since the release of 'Star Wars'(which is NOT, strictly speaking, science-fiction) due to dated visuals and obsolete effects technology, 'Silent Running' is still startlingly clean and visionary. A worthy film for all science-fiction fans to see.


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