Silent Running (1972)

DOUGLAS TRUMBULL

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.  USA, 1972, .  Screenplay by , , .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

All botanical life has disappeared from Earth, forcing humanity to store the last remaining patches of grass and trees on space stations floating through space.  Overseeing their care is an interstellar groundskeeper () who shares the habitat with three other astronauts and three small robots on rubbery legs (played by multiple amputee actors crammed into contraptions).  When orders come from headquarters to release the domes into space and get rid of the foliage, Dern’s love for his greenery prompts him to turn on his coworkers and go rogue, with devastating consequences for all including the little robots.  Smart and thoughtful, this one has 1970s Earth Day awareness written all over it, delivering its message that’s a bit corny even for audience members who are fully in line with its politics: it might be the Jesus robe that Dern wears to work in his garden, it might be the Astroturf straight out of the Brady Bunch backyard pretending to be grass, or it could be the Joan Baez songs warbling on the soundtrack.  Likely the cheese effect is produced by the combination of the three, and the film is never all that exciting, but Douglas Trumbull employs his expertise in visual effects that still look great and photography that still gleams.

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