Soylent Green (1973) Dir. Richard Fleischer
This is a grim vision of the future that will soon be around the corner.
The year is 2022. The earth is a chaotic wasteland. People have exhausted natural resources. Beef, lettuce, or apples are a luxury, and most of people no longer remember what they taste or smell like. Poverty and homelessness are a standard. Food have been replaced with so called Soylent: a chunky, unappetizing substitute of food. Soylent Green is a novelty, a new kind of food that immediately comes in high demand. It coincides with the death of one very rich person. A detective designated to investigate the incident does not even fathom what he is about to uncover.
Detective Thorn (Charlton Heston) lives in a shabby, overcrowded building. He lives with Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson), who is one of very few remaining people still remembering what it used to be like before people ran out of food and before Soylent came. Sol finds pleasure in little things like books (there is no more paper to print books), or fresh food, or even being able to use pencils. It gives him the meaning of life. He is a reminder of all the things we take for granted, which one day may become a luxury. Or even disappear. It’s also a reality check that some people, the poor and the homeless, live like that today.
On the opposite end, there is young and beautiful Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young), a kept woman. She lives with an older and very rich sugar daddy. Just like many other young companions she is called furniture. Her entire existence boils down to entertaining her owner, socially and sexually. Unlike Sol, she has access to hot showers, real food, comfortable beds, alcohol, but she does not appreciate it because she is one of the things. Unlike Sol, who is poor but free, she is not being treated as a human being. The world is divided into these two extremes.
When Thorn digs deeper into the murder case, he finds out he is living in a truly grim world. Not only is the beauty irreversibly gone, but the truth is more gruesome that he could ever imagine. Humanity, like natural resources, has been exhausted. Interestingly, in a world without tastes, smells and colors, everything seems to be dominated and defined by basic colors – each day you can buy Soylent of a different color. For example, “Tuesday is Soylent Green Day.” But there is nothing comforting about the green color. This becomes a cautionary tale. Appreciate everything you have, even what little there is, cause one day it may be just a vague memory.
Long days, pleasant nights,