"The scoops are on their way! The scoops are on their way!"
Welcome to New York City. The year is 2022. Population: 40 Million. Who would've guessed that Al Gore would turn out to be a prophet? No hover-boards, no flying cars. No auto-laces or anything else depicted in "Back To The Future 2". Certainly no "Cafe 80s". What we have instead is this:
Soylent Green 1973
The "Middle class" live in extremely cramped stairwells. Churches are makeshift hospitals and refugee camps for the ck and the dying. The police are little more than corrupt, petty thieves. "To serve and protect" has taken a back seat to "serve yourself, take what you want". Who's there to mete out true justice? No one. There are brothel houses in which only the most attractive and healthy women are rented, bought, and sold. They're called "Furniture" and are sold along with the apartments; offered as living appliances to new prospective tenants.
Meet Shirl! Shes a piece of Furniture
Food is scarce, misery is abundant. Modern conveniences, non-existent. Running water and a hot shower are now luxurious dreams. Only the super rich, the "Movers and shakers" of the city can afford such delicacies as canned spam and strawberry preserves. Meat is practically extinct - Meat from an animal, that is. Makeshift generators powered by converted exercise bikes now run your electricity and lights. If you're fortunate enough to even have lights, that is. All of the machines are breaking down with no one left to fix them. Yep, according to this dystopian vion of the future, we will all be trapped in a super nightmare of poverty, starvation, and chaos. In short: The Future sucks! But not all is bad. After all, the advertisements can be seen on the decadent walls and piped in over the PA systems: Tuesday is Soylent Green Day! Noms! Delicious, ultra nutritious Soylent Green, manufactured by the Soylent Corporation! And this is how the world survives. Eating their choice of little red, yellow, or green squares of what appears to be...cheap 70s bathroom tiles.
But mommmmm! I don't like Soylent Green! It gives me atomic farts! Awww, fret not, little Suzy! There's also Soylent Red and Soylent Yellow! The 3 colors that in combination make up rainbows! Isn't that sweet? Say, Suzy...Would you like to know what Soylent Green is made out of? No? Well good for you!
The movie begins with an interesting montage of American life in the early 1900s. Food a plenty, farmers reaping the rewards of dirt shoveled hands and strong backs. Oil Derricks. Industry. The backbone of early America. It progresses to the 1970s with all the hustle and bustle of great cities and people commencing to and fro in their wonderful busy lives. Progresng further to a polluted, over populated starving world in which we are now a redent (and prisoner) of for the next hour and thirty x minutes.
Charlton Heston plays Thorn, a detective investigating the murder of William R. monson (Joseph Cotten), one of the Soylent Corporation's board of directors. After uncovering that monson's murder was really an assasnation, Thorn begins to unravel the secrets that the Soylent Corporation is trying to keep out of the public eye's scrutiny. Thorn lives with Sol Roth (The legendary Edward G. Robinson), a scholar; more than that, a veritable living encyclopedia.
There's such a great and terrible world created within Soylent Green; a world that seems entirely plauble yet almost unbelievable. I remember first learning about the population census bureau in 3rd grade back in 1989. The world population then was 5.2 billion. In 2010, it was 6.8 billion. That's what, a 29% increase in 21 years? Can't wait to see what it is at the end of 2011. How long would it take for New York's population to go from 8.9 million to 40 million? It's already ridiculously packed! Yes, it's New York, but the environment created in this veron of it is so completely unrecognizable as such. It perfectly translates into the idea that sooner or later we won't even be able to recognize ourselves by our culture. By this I mean either in an evolved morality sense; futuristic fantasy utopia becoming manifest, or in a terrifying way as depicted in Soylent Green. The world changes with each pasng day and to think the day finally came along when the authority figures in this movie decided, "Ya know what? Scooping people up with giant bulldozers is not only reasonable, but an entirely wonderful and efficient method of disperng a food riot." Yep. We've finally made it.
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A little tacky, but then again, who doesn't like The Discovery Channel? And you'll be dead in 20 minutes. Oh and no refunds. And then after drinking the poisoned Kool-aid or being pumped full of drugs and put to sleep forever, your body is shipped off in a garbage truck (not even nicely placed inde of it either. Treated like a stray dead cat found on your lawn) to--YOU GUESSED IT. No, say it isn't so, Joe! Not to a factory owned by the Soylent Corporation! And you can guess what happens after that. And now we know why Soylent Green is so nutritious and why Tuesdays are Soylent Green day.
This movie somehow disturbed me on multiple levels. It showed me a future I would not want to live in, yet a future that is also at once totally posble. It's not labeled as horror. But neither is "1984". Or "Logan's Run". Or "Children of Men". Or "A Clockwork Orange"...Even "The Matrix" for that matter. But I guarantee you, put yourself in the shoes of some of the people on the run in these movies, knowing the full consequences of capture. Living in a completely messed up dystopian future where death is ultimately an improvement - And then you have yourself a true stark realization of what the definitions of horror and terror are.
And on that note, I feel no shame in giving away the ending. The movie's trailer gave away the ending, and think of how disappointed the people were back in 1973? It must be akin to seeing Pason of the Christ. CAN you posbly spoil the ending of that movie? Or Titanic. There is no way that you CAN'T spoil the ending of it. I used a double negative in that sentence and still got my point across. I do feel however, this movie should be mandatory for any high school level social studies curriculum. Although flawed, the salient point this movie tries to make through it's bleak interpretation of the future is this: The truth will come out. And the truth is, this is one hell of a movie.