Monday, November 23, 2015

Soylent Green

Back in the 1970's, apocalypses were mostly nuclear, to the point that it had become almost a cliché -- actually, scratch that, it was a cliché. Soylent Green was far ahead of its time, staking its end-of-the-world scenario on a more gradual, but ultimately inescapable doom: the growing human population, a warming planet, and the ultimate depletion of nearly all the conventional sources of food. In a superheated city, with homeless people sleeping in stairwells to escape the stifling streets, the film deposited two old codgers: Charlton Heston (fresh from his last role as the Omega Man), and veteran Edward G. Robinson, better known for playing gangsters in the black-and-white era). Heston's a cop in an time when riot control means scooping people up with giant front-end loaders; Robinson is his "book" -- one of reclusive club of elders known as the Exchange, who preserve the knowledge of the old world, have a knack for finding things out.

The stage is a crowded one -- there's room for a feminist subplot, as women come included with an apartment as "furniture" -- and for a cameo by Jospeh Cotton as an executive with the mysterious Soylent company, apparently killed by a hired assassin. In a way, it's a genre-bender -- cop drama meets environmental fable -- but it's the final sequences that make it memorable. For among the other features of this distopian world, there's a voluntary euthenasia center with the sinister nickname "home," and when Robinson's character throws in the proverbial towel, it sets in motion a series of revelations that takes an already-horrific world in a yet more frightening direction (watch for Dick Van Patten as the attendant that Heston wrestles with). We all know the reveal, but it's no less terrible for all that -- unless in the form of the box of crackers (above) manufactured in anticipation of an (eventually abandoned) remake.

But it's hard to predict the future. The novel on which the film was based, Harry Harrison's Make Room! Make Room! was set in 1999, which at the time he wrote it was more than thirty years in the future. In it, the overpopulation of the earth has reached crisis levels, and the U.S. population has swollen to 344 million, represented as an unsustainable number. But here in 2015, it's already 322 million, and will reach the Soylent figure within the next few years; by 2050 it may well top 450 million. That is, if we're still here.

16 comments:

  1. Soylent Green, which was released in 1973, was definitely a weird, yet scary movie. In the movie the population had grown to such an extent that there were people living on stairs in buildings, as well as on the streets. Basically, anywhere there was room, people were sleeping and living there. It made me really mad that women were considered to be “furniture,” as they continued to live in the same location and wait for the new upper class men to move in. The women would then belong to them, unless the men did not like them. Food had become so scarce that people were eating soylent wafers, which were said to be made of plankton and came in all sorts of colors, as if that was going to make a difference. Little did the people know that there was no plankton and that they were eating people. In the beginning of the movie when Shirl and the bodyguard were buying real food, which was very rare, the person selling the food took out some beef. Honestly, I actually questioned what that meat really was, as I had not seen any animals prior to that time or at all during the whole movie. There was a facility where anyone who wished to die filled out a formed and died a peaceful death. The bodies then end up at the Soylent Corporation where they were made into soylent green. It is scary to think of a time when it might come to the point that people eat other people. I did not like the way the movie ended as Thorn was injured and carried away. He told Hatcher what was really going on, but it ends there. Were they able to stop the corporation? What happen after that? Did Thorn die a not so peaceful death and turn into a wafer? I hate cliffhangers! (Amanda Lussier)

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  2. It is a good film with an interesting premise, a compelling mystery. The film provides a captivating, and horrifying, mankind's potential future. A vision of a world where overpopulation, 40 million people living in New York alone, causing people to spill out of windows. Most of these people live basically on the street and sleep wherever they can where there’s available space and the world is at the border of total chaos. Also animal and plant life is nearly non-existent, fresh food and water is only accessible to the truly rich, voluntary suicide is stimulated, the government hands out portions of odd food supplements (Soylent Red, Soylent Yellow, and the new Soylent Green) that is used to feed the masses of poor people. A jar of strawberries costs $150, and women are called "furniture" for wealthy men, it’s the man’s personal woman that takes care of their place and cook them food and the man do as they please with the woman. When William Simonson, a high executive of the powerful Soylent Company, is mysteriously assassinated, the detective Charlton Heston (Thorn) starts to investigate the case. He tallies with the aid of his old and wise partner, Edward G. Robinson (Sol). Sol is the only one that still remembers how Earth was, with trees, fruits and democracy. Thorn solves the crime and the revolting truth about the secret ingredient of the Soylent Green. The performing is strong from the two people that matter the most, Charlton Heston (Thorn) and Edward G. Robinson (Sol). Sol's suicide scene trailed by Thorn's discovery of the recipe for Soylent Green, represent the best parts of the movie. There is something very creepy about the way Sol is lead to his chamber. As he lies there and watches a film of all the beautiful things that earth once had to offer, the footage makes its impact. The themes in Soylent Green were clear right from the very beginning. (Rosmina Gonzalez)

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  3. Overall, Soylent Green was sort of a scary movie because some of this could be true but, it was still a good movie. The movie tells the story of New York in the year 2022, when the population has swollen to an unbelievable around 80 million, and people live in the streets and line up for their rations of water and Soylent Green. I believe that the detective story is mostly just an excuse to keep us interested from one end of the movie to the other. The main point was to assume a very basic (and depressing) probability, that by the year 2022, New York will look close to as it does now, only 49 years older and more run-down. It’s society itself that has changed not the apartments and the city. People turn into herds and riots are broken up by garbage scoops that toss people into giant trucks. Robinson (Sol) decides that the time for him has come. He goes to “Home,”which is a gigantic "euthanasia" center. Sol watches movies of the way life used to be on Earth.Thorn eventually solves the crime and figures out the truth about the secret ingredient of the Soylent Green. The fact that it was the bodies that ended up at the Soylent Corporation. That part kind of disgusted me because with how the society is today that could happen. Just like the other one, this ending isn't my favorite because they don't really tell you much, but lately there has been a lot of those movies. Although some of the hair and clothing styles are a bit dated, the characters played their roles really well and the story was pretty solid. (Jaimee Barrett)

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  4. I really like how all of the novels/films that we have been watching in this class really make you think. They present societal issues in a way that isn’t telling you what to do, but rather allows the reader/viewer to interpret the message however they will. However, the take aways from these films seem to be the same for most people. In Soylent Green, I noticed how the people in this film really truly enjoy their food. When they get their food, they don’t take it for granted like we presently do in our culture. Sometimes we eat just to eat, not because we need to eat. We do this because the idea of running out of food never even crosses our mind. We take for granted the enjoyment that earth provides us with, for example, delicious, organic food and warm, long showers. This movie really makes you rethink your outlook on life and what the earth provides us with. It makes you realize how lucky we are to have these things so easily within our grasp. However, this is not true for all beings on earth today, and this film not only allows the viewer to appreciate their life, but also can portray to them what it may be like in other parts of the world where these things aren’t as easily accessible.

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  5. The movie Soylent Green was a mix between science fiction because of the futuristic ideals they had but also a little bit of horror because of some frighting scenes and well, the over all idea that "soylent green is people". The movie was one that kept me engaged in the whole time. In some other films we viewed i found myself losing interest but this film kept you entertained the whole time. I thought the idea of the population that overgrown and the need for these 'fake' food items being dished out in bags was a rather scary thought. It makes you think if maybe one day the world will turn to this if we keep harming are plant and animal life like we are. I think the idea of that crazy amount of people is less realistic then the idea of losing our healthy food. Even today there are lawsuits left and right over what really is in our food, or if it really is even healthy at all. It seems at though the FDA regulations for food are constantly lowering and more chemicals and more fake product is being allowed in food and even receiving an FDA approved sticker. It is crazy just how little we actually know about the food we eat. Also this movie made me think of the fact that we have to pay so much more for organic or healthy foods. Similar to the movie where the real meets and such were so rare and expensive only the rich could have them. You can see that on a much smaller scale in todays culture. The food at whole foods, trader joes and places like that are more expensive then the foods we buy at stop & shop. Why? Because its better for you. We have this twisted economy where we charge people more to have a better healthier life style & then yell at them when they become overweight. Overall, this movie makes you think and is enjoyable.
    (Gabrielle Demers)

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  6. This Film tackles many societal and philosophical ideas. Soylent green takes the problems of real world situations and intensifies them, making them almost theatrical yet applicable to the world around us. By using the concept that food is becoming fake applies directly to the massively growing fast food industry and the decay of organic and natural eating. It is a compelling and radical story that allows the viewer to create his or her own conclusions on the concepts.

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  7. Soylent Green was my favorite film this semester. I love watching crime dramas like Law & Order on tv, so this was similar along the lines of who done the crime. Of course I’m seeing the pattern that in the 70s, authors expected an apocalypse in the near future as they all loved to write their own versions on how the earth is to be ruined. Soylent Green was for sure the most unique storyline. Such a dark undertone of how the wafers were in fact made with humans. I always wonder if it is a problem only because there is a society like Roth who are older and remember when things were peaceful and there was real meat. Makes you wonder if in the far future, our descendants will have no other option than humans, and not mind. Of course there is the socioeconomic contrast where of course the wealthy have exclusive access to the perks of actual meat and fresh food and air conditioning. I understand the argument that in a time where there is limited resource, you are strict on how you distribute it. But i find it sad that while people are being fooled to being cannibals, there are a few who are live greedy and eating the best. That’s one of the many things I find truly disturbing in this film. I love when a film makes me question things that i never ask myself, so overall really good movie. (Cindy Xon)

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  8. Soylent Green didn't interest me as much as the others. While some of the other blog posts talk about how engaged they were, I wasn't a fan. Although, I do agree with Gabrielle when talking about the foods we eat and comparing the prices between the different stores due to expenses. The real food in the movie was more expensive and could only be afforded by the rich people, which is definitely happening in our society today. Also, women being sold as furniture with apartments made me angry, but it was an interesting twist on the film. (Amanda Belluscio)

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  9. Soylent Green uses really life problems in his stories. I like that because it really makes you think about what is going on. I agree with Victoria in the way that a lot of people just eat to eat and not because they need to. This sometimes is a big problem because that is where we get obesity from the excessive eating.

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  10. The novels we read and the films we watch in this class, makes you certainly more open minded. It's an amazing thing to have your imagination still growing at eighteen years old. The works we look at in class remind me when I was child and how I use to escape my troubles by escaping into this new world. Just like then I find my self knowing the characters and connecting with them . They seem to understand my fears and anxieties.

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  11. I thought that the "Soylent Green" film was a strange but interesting movie. It may a fictional story but it contains many universal issues such as poverty, famine, and pollution. I feel like this film was trying to show us how much these issues have an affect on our timelines and how they are ongoing issues. It also brings up a good point about how people who are in control of society do not a good job in solving the social problems. Instead people are being bombarded with lies which create more bigger problems for example, feeding people human-beings! Also, it represents other issues on how their society is oppressed, especially the women in the way that they are beat and seen as "furniture." I think that the time-setting is significant because it tells how life on earth has not changed due to ongoing social issues, and how without a solution, life can only get worse. Overall, it was an interesting movie to watch of the plot twist. (Kathy Mateos)

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  12. I liked watching Soylent Green, I think it was a creative idea for the time that it came out, about how the future could turn out to be if we used up all of its resources. It also puts into place how we take things for granted. They were so happy to have real food and drinks, and to just see pictures and videos of nature. Something that we take for granted everyday, because some people don't even have those luxuries today like we do, never-mind in the future when there are no resources. (Brad Auger)

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  13. Soylent Green was an interesting film in my opinion. I enjoyed the way it highlighted two major issues. One being the climate crisis and the inevitable challenges we will face due to global warming as well a sub plot of government corruption and the obstruction of justice. I liked this subplot a lot because it adds to the drama and the overall shock value. No one knows that soylent green is actually people but there are officials covering it up and paying others not to say anything. This made the plot multi faceted and more interesting because not only do we have to worry about losing food and resources, but we have to worry about the people who will take charge when a time like this comes upon us. What secrets will be kept from the public or will we have a just government with truthful members. Overall, Soylent Green is interesting as well as thought provoking.

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  14. in 1973 Soylent Green was released. I have to say that this was a very interesting film, in a weird way. The film had this kind of futuristic-y 70's mod-ish vibe. Which makes sense since it was in 1973. I thought that the main character had a determined way of how he went about things. My dad would tell me about this movie and the book all the time, his favorite line is "ITS PEOPLE!!!!!!!" and i can definitely say that it is mine too. The movie is placed in a world that is very over populated and there isn't much food to go around, housing is sucky and there seems to be a curfew for the city. When people go to get their little soylent crackers; soylent red, soylent yellow and now soylent green, it was like being at an over crowded farmers market. When things got too rowdy the riot control would come in and basically its like a huge garbage truck with a scoop on the front and they would scoop up whole bunches of people and throw them into the truck and be taken away. (taken to be made into soylent green!! dun dun dunnnn!!!)
    Its crazy to think that all of this could very well be possible if the world were to get over populated and things got out of control. Overall i did really love this movie, my dad has been telling me about it for a few years and now I've finally seen it. the movie, in my opinion is all that its cracked up to be! LOVE. (K.OVERLY)

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  15. “Soylent Green” made me think how there are people who take what we have for granted. The film demonstrates how strongly people enjoy their food and don’t take what they have for granted. As today’s society we don’t think about where our food is coming from and if we will ever run out. This film made me realize that we need to be grateful for what we have and not just eat food because we want too and think that we will never run out. It makes me also think about the other countries in the world that have less and how they survive on a daily basis. (Kelsey Wood)

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  16. i agree with kelsey, when watching the film all i could think of was how much we all take the food we eat everyday for granted. and after reading her comment im thinking the same about how we never think about what if someday we didn't have the food we eat everyday.

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