“Soylent Green” is a science fiction film 1973 directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson and Leigh Taylor-Young. The film is set in 2022, in a future where the world is overpopulated and natural resources have been depleted.
The plot follows the character played by Heston, a detective named Thorn, who is assigned to investigate the murder of an executive of Soylent Corporation, a company that produces a synthetic food called “Soylent Green” which is the main source of nutrition for the population. While trying to solve the case, Thorn discovers a shocking secret about the origin of Soylent Green food.
The film is considered a classic of the dystopian genre, as it presents a dark and frightening vision of the future of humanity, dominated by overpopulation and the aggressiveness of multinational corporations. The theme of overpopulation and environmental sustainability, as well as that of the corruption of large corporations, are still very topical today.
“Soylent Green received positive reviews from critics and was commercially successful at the box office. The film was also nominated for the Hugo Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation in 1974.
“Soylent Green” is set in 2022, in a world overpopulated and devastated by a shortage of natural resources. The population of New York City lives in miserable conditions, water is rationed and food is scarce. The main source of nutrition is synthetic food called “Soylent Green”, manufactured by the Soylent Corporation.
The protagonist of the film is Thorn, a police detective who is assigned to investigate the murder of a Soylent Corporation executive. During the investigation, Thorn discovers that the executive had made shocking discoveries about the true nature of Soylent Green food.
Thorn enlists the help of Sol Roth, an old retired scientist who was one of the few who saw the world before resource shortages destroyed it. Sol shares the truth about Soylent Green food with Thorn, which is that it is made from human corpses.
Thorn decides to spread the truth to the public, but is captured by the Soylent Corporation and taken to the company’s headquarters. There he discovers that the company intends to expand the production of Soylent Green using the population itself as a source of raw material.
The plot of the film presents a frightening and dystopian vision of the future of humanity, dominated by overpopulation and submission to large corporations. The theme of environmental sustainability and the struggle for survival are at the heart of the story, which ends with the discovery of a terrible truth that casts even more shadows on the future of humanity.
Here are the main characters of the film “Soylent Green”:
- Thorn (played by Charlton Heston): is the protagonist of the film, a police detective who is assigned to investigate the murder of an executive of the Soylent Corporation. During his investigations, he discovers the terrible truth about the nature of Soylent Green food.
- Sol Roth (played by Edward G. Robinson): is an old retired scientist who joins Thorn to help him solve the case. He is one of the few who remembers the world before natural resource shortages, and he shares the truth about Soylent Green food with Thorn.
- Shirl (played by Leigh Taylor-Young): is Thorn’s partner and works as a “furniture maker” in a used furniture store. She is described as a very desirable woman and coveted by many men.
- Tab Fielding (played by Chuck Connors): is a powerful man who works for the Soylent Corporation and who tries to hinder Thorn’s investigation into the case of the murder of the company executive.
- Gilbert (played by Stephen Young): is a young man belonging to the highest social class of society, who lives in a luxurious apartment equipped with all comforts.
- William R. Simonson (played by Joseph Cotten): He is the president of the Soylent Corporation and the head of Tab Fielding.
In addition to these characters, other actors appear in the film in minor roles, such as Thorn’s colleagues in the police, workers of the Soylent Corporation and members of the population of New York City.
“Soylent Green” is a 1973 film directed by Richard Fleischer and produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). The screenplay of the film, written by Stanley R. Greenberg, is based on the novel “Make Room! Make Room!” by Harry Harrison.
The film was shot primarily in Los Angeles, California, with some scenes also filmed in New York City. The production of the film faced some problems, such as the limited budget and the fact that the main set, which represented the overpopulated city of the future, had to be built in a limited area.
Director Richard Fleischer has tried to create a realistic and eerie atmosphere, representing a dystopian future in which humanity is forced to fight for survival in an overpopulated world devastated by a shortage of natural resources.
The film received mixed reviews upon its release, but over the years it has become a cult favorite of the dystopian genre and has influenced numerous other films and television series. His iconic image, the “Soylent Green is made of people”, has become a popular reference in popular culture.
Distribution and Reception
“Soylent Greenwas released theatrically in the United States on May 19, 1973. The film was moderately successful at the box office, grossing approximately $3.6 million upon its debut.
The film received mixed reviews upon its release, but has been re-evaluated positively by critics and audiences over the years. Site Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 71% based on 38 reviews, with an average rating of 6.7 out of 10. The site’s critical consensus reads, ‘Despite some questionable picks, ‘Soylent Green’ offers an attractive and disturbing picture of the future”.
The film was especially praised for its realistic and unsettling depiction of a dystopian future, the performance of Charlton Heston, and the presence of Edward G. Robinson, who died shortly after filming wrapped. In particular, the film’s final scene, in which the true nature of Soylent Green food is revealed, has become an iconic image in cinema and popular culture.
“Soylent Green” has influenced numerous other films and television series, including ‘Blade Runner’, ‘The Matrix’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. The film is considered a classic of the dystopian genre and an important landmark in the history of science fiction cinema.
The style of “Soylent Green” features a dark and foreboding atmosphere, reflecting the dystopian nature of the story. Director Richard Fleischer has sought to create a realistic vision of the future, avoiding whimsical elements and focusing on the negative consequences of overcrowding, poverty and shortages of natural resources.
The film uses dark and desaturated photography to portray the dark and oppressive setting, and the score by Fred Myrow and Jerry Goldsmith contributes to the eerie and atmospheric atmosphere.
The main theme of the film is humanity’s struggle for survival, and the film highlights social inequality and the dire consequences of the abuse of natural resources. The film also presents a critique of capitalist ideology, where big business controls food and resources, and the poor class is oppressed and exploited.
The film is also known for its iconic final scene, in which the true nature of Soylent Green food is revealed, which has had a lasting impact on popular culture.
The director of “Soylent Green” is Richard Fleischer, born December 8, 1916 in Brooklyn, New York, and died March 25, 2006 in Woodland Hills, California. Fleischer was a prolific and versatile director, who directed films in many genres, including the horror, noir, adventure, the detective story and science fiction.
Fleischer was the son of famed director Max Fleischer, known for creating animated characters such as Betty Boop and Popeye. After starting his film career as an assistant director, Fleischer made his directorial debut in 1944 with the film ‘Child of Divorce’. Throughout his career, Fleischer directed a number of successful films, including “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (1954), “Murder Complex” (1968) and “Soylent Green” (1973).
Fleischer was known for his attention to detail and his ability to create atmospheric and eerie atmospheres. In the case of “Soylent Green”, Fleischer sought to create a realistic and oppressive vision of the future, avoiding the fantastical elements and focusing attention on the negative consequences of overcrowding and shortage of natural resources. Thanks to his skill, “Soylent Green” has become a classic of the dystopian genre and has influenced numerous other films and television series.