I'm surprised that nobody noticed the religious background. Anyway, that explains why everybody discuss of the scientific values of the movie. Let be clear : There is no scientific plots in this movie ! It's a TALE ! Like "Alice in Wonderland", where nobody thinks to tell us "A rabbit can't talk ! This is a scientific nonsense !"
Who cares the evil capitalistics didn't need to nuke the forrest ? This is just a conventional point of view to build a story, not the center of the story. For me the story talks about a man who becomes mad because of his loneliness, and think he is God.
First, Lowell is alone in a psychologic matter. As someone said : "he's the last man alive, even when his team mates are alive". And I add my own precision : "The last forrest dome, is the last world !". So, Lowell feels very big responsibilities toward this world. He works on it. This forrest becomes his "creation" (Lowell lets the other domes being destroyed, but refuses to let the "evils" touching his own world).
Second, Lowell is so lonely when his team mates are dead, that he creates new friends ! That explains another scientific question frequently asked : Why the drones have no wheels, no real arms and don't talk ? This is because originally, these drones are not robots for protocol ! They are specialized tools to mend the spaceship, that's all. They are "things", not "beeings". But Lowell modifys them. As he says : "Now, you'll work for me guys !". He teached them to become surgeons, poker players, gardeners, and so on... and he gave them a personality and human names. These drones are HIS creation, like the last forrest.
Do you begin to understand where I want to go ? "Eden's gardens", "two creatures".... Mmmm.... A bible genesis alike, no ? (Too bad he didn't name "Adam" and "Eve" his last two drones). And like God, he gave his creation to his creature and disappeared.
So the environementalist theme is not very important, this is the psychological draft of a lonely man who becomes crazy and think (unconsciousnessly) he's God.
The best similar reference to recommend is "DARK STAR" by John Carpenter with a similar ending : "SPOILER ALERT" the lonely computer-bomb finished to think he was God and said "Let there be light !" (hopping to create a world by exploding).
In "SILENT RUNNING", the lack of action scenes is a good thing, because that gives us time to think. "MATRIX", for example, had religious background too, but who cares ? We are flooded with action scenes, no time to think ! (particulary in sequel 2 and 3). So the slow action gives to this movie his beauty. And, after all, "2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY", have no "jumping action scenes" either. It's still a masterpiece.
"SILENT RUNNING" is also a masterpiece. A movie like we'll never see again one.
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