In the distant future, a police marshal stationed at a remote mining colony on the Jupiter moon of Io uncovers a drug-smuggling conspiracy, and gets no help from the populace when he later finds himself marked for murder.
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
I remember first seeing this film on television I think in 1973 and being mesmerized by it. Even though I found the the premise to be absurd (more on that below), the story and movie triumphs regardless. This is flim making at its most brilliant. With the exception of Terrence Malick's "Badlands," I cannot think of a finer directorial debut. It is one of the tragedies of contemporary cinema, that Douglas Trumbull could not find any work as a director for years afterwards. What a loss! The studio completely blew it.
The movie. Yes, the premise is incoherent and it has to be dealt with. Sometime in the early years of the next century what is left of America's forests are gathered up and put on space freighters and shipped to . . . Saturn. Why is most unclear. Putting the forest domes in orbit around earth would have made perfect sense. Moreover, the film goes to great lengths to show that the robots are fully capable of tending to them alone so the whole bit about the unhappy human crew is unnecessary. But off to Saturn we go (where the light for the plants -- surprise -- is really bad).
I understand that Trumbull was thinking of an alien contact story initially -- I am certain to be going out on a limb on this one -- which seemed to bear some resemblence to the Poul Anderson novella "Southern Cross." The aliens were soon dumped, however. What remained turned out to be an utterly compelling psychological drama of a man alone in space that is unlike any SF movie I have seen (it does bear some similarity to a few Twilight Zone episodes, however).
This is an astonishing technical achievement in movie making. Everything about this film works: music, effects, photography, sets, acting, editing, direction, you name it. Folks, this was done for all of one million dollars and is a hundred times more compelling than films that cost a hundred times as much. This is art. This is literature. Get the DVD. Just sit down an watch it. This is a lovely, timeless, piece of work.
Then weep because they don't make 'em like this anymore. .
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