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 so that the spacecraft can be reused for commercial purposes, 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, so decides to take matters into his own hands to protect what he loves.
It's no definitive masterpiece but it's damn close.
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The first must-see film of the year.
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The joyful confection is coated in a sparkly gloss, bright enough to gleam from the darkest, most cynical corners.
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This movie tries so hard to be funny, yet it falls flat every time. Just another example of recycled ideas repackaged with women in an attempt to appeal to a certain audience.
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"Silent Running" is an appealing, unusual sci-fi tale set in deep space. Bruce Dern plays astronaut Freeman Lowell, who's been working on a project for the past eight years: maintain the last of the flora and fauna scavenged from a devastated Planet Earth, inside huge geodesic domes. One day he gets the orders from his bosses to terminate the project and head home. Unfortunately, this idea doesn't appeal to Freeman, and he mutinies.The film is not subtle about its love-and-respect-for-Mother-Nature, "save the planet" mentality, but it's quite an affecting story no matter what. Lowell does some things one can't exactly condone, but you do understand the man. Thanks to a powerhouse performance by Mr. Dern, you can still sympathize with the man and be moved by his loneliness and social awkwardness. True enough that a story like this would seem like a pretty hard sell to studios, even 43 years ago, since there are no female characters and the main person isn't all that noble.Special effects veteran Douglas Trumbull, renowned for his work on "2001: A Space Odyssey", obviously has a real affinity for creating interesting environments and striking visuals. He uses these visuals just as much as any dialogue in telling the story, which is a pretty entertaining one; it was scripted by Deric Washburn, Michael Cimino, and Steven Bochko. The effects are nicely done, and those robot characters - referred to here as drones - do have some personality, and are highly endearing, if not as memorable as, say, R2-D2 from "Star Wars".The songs, by Joan Baez, and score, composed and conducted by Peter Schickele, are lovely.Cliff Potts, Ron Rifkin, and Jesse Vint are all fun as Lowells' younger, more carefree associates, but after a while only Dern remains as the sole human presence on screen. His performance has to rank as one of his all time best.Overall, watching this one is a fairly potent experience, and it does stick with you once it's over.Eight out of 10.
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Despite being a little dated and hokey at times, SILENT RUNNING was an enjoyable sci-fi film with some incredible visual effects. From the effects maestro behind 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY comes a story about future Earth where all of the surviving plants are being cared for in modules far out in space. However, the order comes back that the crew needs to destroy all of the remaining flora and the caretaker, Lowell (Bruce Dern), decides to take matters into his own hands. Aside from the visual effects, which is the biggest thing this film has going for it, I will give credit to Bruce Dern for being a likable and somewhat charismatic lead, although I don't think he was quite up to task of carrying most of the film by himself. He had a certain humanity and earthiness that played well against the wordless drones that he interacts with. The other human cast members also did a good job, but they weren't really in it long enough for them to register too much as characters. As I said before, the visual effects were excellent. There were quite a few exterior space shots of the ships that I thought gave Star Wars a run for its money. There was also some decent production design on the ship interior. However, I do think that the film is a little dated. The songs were a little hokey and I didn't care for them too much. Also, the pro-environment message was laid on a little too broadly and came off as a little silly at times. Still, it is nice to see how far we've come considering that this came out towards the beginning of that movement. Overall, I wasn't particularly bored by this film, but it wasn't exactly riveting either. Bruce Dern is a capable lead, but the real star of the film is the effects. Recommended if you're a fan of old-school sci-fi.
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OK I admit I have my rose-tinted spectacles handy when watching this brave little science fiction film but I still think that it remains pretty much a unique experience. It's rambling and inconsequential, has worn well but is dated, is corny yet relevant, and is enjoyable if too much isn't expected.Gargantuan spaceship has a lush ecosystem to preserve, until the order comes to blow it all up – tch, how short sighted Mankind always is! Bruce Dern as resident geeko-eco-warrior kills the remaining examples of Mankind on board and sets up his store with two stumpy robots Huey and Dewey. Sadly Louie didn't make it The anthropomorphised robots and their relationship with Dern form the backbone of the movie. It goes off at odd tangents, but the big point is to Take Good Care Of The Forest. The three of them gave the best performances of their lives, only one of them saying anything and most of that comes across as unscripted. Probably the biggest drawback with the film was Joan Baez's dated manic warbling of hippy-drippy axioms always at the wrong moment; it made me cringe the first time I heard it in 1976, and gives the lie to the title. But even her music hasn't dated as badly as Blade Runner. The special effects were good although a lot of the props now remind me of 8-track cartridge players. There's no help for it, you must make allowances for all of that! And maybe it's good to remember that at this time of writing Mankind has not set foot on the Moon since those ancient primitive times either. The climax should be cringe-worthy too but isn't – the contrived poignancy is overwhelming by then. It's not one of the 1000 essential films to see before you die but it's worth watching because you won't see anything else quite like it; afterwards just try to think of a similar film.
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This was in fact, my first slow movie and it is pretty well done. The important thing to say is, the trailer for this movie is the worst I have ever seen. It uses every action scene in the movie pretty much, and makes it look like an action adventure, with quotes like 'cataclysm in outer space' and 'every moment bringing its own danger' yeah, right. This is a very different kind of movie.In the far future, the only remaining forests are inside of domes many miles up into space, where nobody seems to care about them anymore. Except for Freeman Lowell, who has been maintaining the forests for over 15 years, most recently alongside three others, and is a flamboyant environmentalist. But orders are given to blow up the domes and return home, he decides to go rouge by disobeying orders, killing his team members, and claiming that this last forest as a detonation problem, not letting it die by explosives. Then he retreats into deep space after jettisoning his cargo in an attempt to signal the others that he has been blown up, hence the name 'silent running.' His only companions are his three robots that would be ripped off by war hammer 40k in their dreadnaught design. I am serious! The design is TOO similar! This movie's strength is it's drama. Freeman Lowell is like a normal human being in the future. This is reflected when he names the three drones Huey, Dewey, and Louie. But in the end, the rest of the ships discover him and are about to close in. Lowell realizes they would be able to find out that he murdered his crew mates and disobeyed, so before the other ships board, he blows up his own space cruiser, Valley forge. If you are not a fan of slow movies, this isn't the one for you. It is atmospheric, with little music, but some of it is sung by Joan Baez. It was the 70's, ladies and gentlemen. Embrace it! And embrace this movie, if you are the kind who loves this style.