Film Reviews, Short Review

Silent Running (1972)

3/4

A cult film from the golden age of ‘hard’ sci-fi – when the genre tackled ideas rather than George Lucas farting onto a Kurosawa film – Silent Running tells the story of Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern), an astronaut on a ship holding the last remains of Earth’s flora and fauna, the planet having been ruined by human over-activity. Ordered to destroy the remaining wildlife and return to Earth, Lowell refuses, killing his co-workers and striking out on his own. Most of the film is Dern on his own, with only two (adorable!) drones for company; as a rumination on the pitfalls of standing up for your beliefs against risking your own sanity doing so, Silent Running is given a lot of weight by Dern’s intense performance. However, Douglas Trumbull (of 2001 and Blade Runner special effects fame) directs the film with a certain lazy pace, which works well in the film’s intimate second half, but stalls the earlier half where more forward momentum is required to engage our interest. It’s a fascinating film, worth seeing, but missing an assured directorial hand.

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