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Silent Running [1972]

Bit of a mixed bag this one. On the one hand I liked the significance of the story which is based around human beings disregarding the Earth’s natural habitat. On the other it was so badly done I wanted to throw a shrub at the screen.

Silent Running does make you think, though. You’re the cultivator of the last remaining forest in existence. What would you do if someone told you to destroy it? Let it happen, or fight it? Freeman Lowell fights it. Admirable, yes, but the means he uses to do it are bloody ridiculous. Use force, maybe, but no-one would go so far as to commit cold-blooded murder. He’s very irritating as a lead character and wouldn’t be out of place at a Woodstock festival, drunk as a fart and shouting expletives at the authorities.

Then there’s his motives. Whereas I would see protecting trees and flora as a way of protecting ourselves as well as the world in which we live, Lowell only speaks about preserving the forest’s beauty. There’s never any mention of the trees and plants being a key part of the Earth’s ecosystem in order for us to survive, so as long as the plumage is pretty and the trees are bushy then we should be happy! The sob story of a girl not being able to hold a leaf is almost as bad as American Beauty’s trash blowing in the wind scene.

On the plus side there are three cheeky drones (Hewey, Dewey and Louie) that provide some much-needed relief to this pretentiousness. They can’t talk, they’re generally box-like, but they still put forward a sense of personality that the human characters completely lack. A smile was always on my face whenever I saw them waddling through the corridors or working on ship maintenance. If it wasn’t for some striking 70’s visuals, Hewey and Dewey would completely steal the show.

Silent Running was a disappointment for me. Maybe it’s the over-styled generation of films I’ve grown up with, but I’d say I’m pretty open-minded about eras before my time. There’s just too many holes in Silent Running for me. And don’t even get me started on the music…