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mygif

IT’S MADE OF PEOPLE.

Really, you should know this by now.

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ITS MADE OF…

oh shit too late

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IT’S MADE…

Never mind.

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The line is
“Soylent green is people!”
Not
“It’s made of people!”

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Eric TF Bat said on April 9th, 2010 at 8:22 am

It was his sled.

And his mother was him.

And she’s a man.

And he died at the beginning.

And the ship sinks.

Yeah, twist endings have a use-by date.

(PS the good guys win. That’s 99.97% of them.)

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I gotta be honest, this is not the post I was hoping to read… not that it sucked or anything, but I kept waiting for the contrived and hilarious explanation of how these three movies were actually a trilogy.

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Charlton Heston was the only one on set who knew Edward G. Robinson was dying in real life. Those tears he cries during the euthanasia sequence were real.

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They sold different colored Soylents in the book and movie. What the hell was Soylent Yellow made from?!

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Brad Reed said on April 9th, 2010 at 9:13 am

Gonna get rambly…

Logan’s Run came out in 1976, the summer before Star Wars. LR is the last major pre-Star Wars SF movie. When I saw it, I thought the same thing — it looks like a totally different genre than (most) SF we know today. LR is the Last of Its Kind, and damn, it’s a sight to behold.

I disagree about the focus of the change, though. Look at the three movies cited here, and the other big SF movies after the end of the fifties “flying saucer” period and prior to 1977. Logan’s Run: a sterile and insane society rebuilt upon the ashes of our dead world. Soylent Green: a grubby and insane society built upon the ashes of our dying world. The Omega Man: what the dead world looks like when Charlton Heston runs loose.

Now compare that to Star Wars: a farm boy who likes to fix cars and wants to live a bigger life gets swept up in a desperate mission to save a kidnapped princess from an evil Empire that’s developed an unstoppable super-weapon.

That’s a big shift in tone and substance. It moves away from self-seriousness and engagement with “the problems of today” and towards broader, more general themes. SF used to be all about “what’s going on today.” Star Wars changed that.

With apologies to Mr. Seavey, I think he’s radically overstating the political content of Star Wars. Watching it for the first time in a decade recently, what struck me was how much of a pastiche it was. Star Wars is part WW2 movie, part cowboy movie, part Kurosawa movie, and part American Graffiti. It creates a not-quite-seamless pop culture gumbo, wrapped in a basic fairytale story that has just enough bite to satisfy the cynics in the audience. The core of the story is the overcoming of cynicism to “believe in the force,” or at least something larger than one’s self. Its political content was no more than the generic “don’t trust authority” flavor so prevalent in pop culture for the previous ten years.

Compare that sunny, simple, non-SF message to Logan’s Run, Soylent Green, and the Omega Man. Star Wars is about Movie Heroism and Believing in Yourself and Lasers are Cool. LR is about bucking religious and social faith and discovering the lies beneath. SG is the same, albeit crueler and dirtier. OM is about how people will be twisted by tragedy to become monsters.

LR, SG, and OM are indeed “stories of ideas,” by which I mean “stories created around the spine of a particular idea.” Star Wars is nothing of the sort. Even Lucas admits they came from an urge to modernize Flash Gordon serials. (Not that that’s bad, mind you — I’ll take Star Wars over the other three in a heartbeat.) The other three stories are “ideas given form.” Star Wars is about entertainment in the form of SF, sewing together various kickass genres to create a new whole.

That said, Seavey does nail a key fact. Look back to Star Trek. Old SF was wedded to allegory: aliens with black-and-white faces at war because of which side was white and which was black? LR, OM, and SG are later incarnations of that same mode of thought. Post-Star Wars, that stuff became much less important. Even today, SF movies and teevee shows with pretensions towards ideas pay more attention to the entertainment side of the equation, due to Star Wars’s influence.

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Fred Davis said on April 9th, 2010 at 9:42 am

Somewhere out there is an undergraduate paper written by Simon Peg (he of Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Star Trek fame) that analyses Star Wars using marxist dialectics.

“soylent green is people” is a completely different proposition from “soylent green is made of people” – the poppers from that one futurama episode were people, but were no made of people.

Quite frankly I feel that Heston’s decision to run down the street calling soylent something that possesses a certain person-hood (thereby causing people to assume him to be a member of either the PETA of the future or a pro-lifer group of the future) rather than warning people that soylent green, the food stuff, was MADE OF people who had been euphanised, completely ruined the movie for me.

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Long story short we’re looking at the difference between SciFi and Space Opera. SciFi is about playing with elements of culture to prove a point. Space Opera is just another adventure story and that’s part of the appeal. Star Wars doesn’t beat you over the head with themes and subtext like those other 3. That makes it much easier to watch

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“Are the effects realistic?” The cinema of ideas was replaced, in that instant, by the cinema of visceral experience.
That is my complaint about the last half of the new Star Trek movie. I know I’m in the minority on that.
The Spock elements were good but Abrams turned Kirk into Luke Sywalker with his destiny to be captain of the Enterprise.

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Mad Scientist said on April 9th, 2010 at 9:53 am

…and here throughout all of that, a quiet voice in my head kept wanting to correct ‘Star Wars’ to ‘A New Hope’.

^_^;

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Actually, STAR WARS is part of the 3rd wave of post WWII sci-fi films.

The first wave, kicked off by DESTINATION MOON and THE THING, were indeed documentary-like in their approach to their stories. Since the fantastic was not as common an element in pre-WWII films as it is today (and specifically the sub-genre of sci-fi), most early films took great pains to establish the plausibility of their stories. For instance, THEM! starts out as a pretty straight forward police procedural that gradually eliminates all possibilities except the fact that giant ants are responsible. Corman and other low-budget film makers also tended to be documentary in their approach simply because they couldn’t afford any other (Ed Wood’s delirious PLAN 9 is the exception rather than the rule).

The 2nd wave of sci-fi occurred in the mid-60s as the genre became recognized as established. It began branching off in interesting areas such as SECONDS, CHARLY, and THE MIND OF MR. SOAMES, and in an 18-month period that ended in 1968 saw the release of TV’s STAR TREK, PLANET OF THE APES, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and BARBARELLA.

LOGAN’S RUN, THE OMEGA MAN, and SOYLENT GREEN are films from that wave; with LOGAN’S RUN probably being the next to last major studio release (DAMNATION ALLEY, the movie 20th Fox was going to be their big hit the year STAR WARS came out, was probably the last).

STAR WARS is part of the 3rd wave, but it wasn’t the first. John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon’s student-thesis-come-cult-favorite DARK STAR might be the film to claim that status; it was a send up of sci-fi in general and was among the first non-apocalyptic films to show a worn, used future. One might also point to Kubrick’s A CLOCKWORK ORANGE as another immersive somewhat shopworn future.

For the ultimate nihilistic dystopian film series, I would suggest a Charlton Heston marathon of SOYLENT GREEN (over population) then THE OMEGA MAN (bacteriological plague, not atom war, causes the apocalypse) then PLANET OF THE APES followed by BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES. It takes Chuck four tries but he finally manages to destroy the entire planet.

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SOYLENT GREEN IS LUKE’S FATHER.

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(In the book, Soylent Green is soy and lentil – no long pork involved at all.)

Where does THX 1138 fit into all this?

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Damnit, Hank, you beat me by 20 minutes.

…Nice post, though.

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Mister Alex said on April 9th, 2010 at 11:38 am

THEY ARE ACTUALLY ALL SPLIT PERSONALITIES OF THE SAME GUY AND IT’S ALL HAPPENING INSIDE HIS HEAD!!

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Re: Brad Reed:

I don’t think I’m overstating the political content, but Lucas has always had a problem with the way his tone overshadowed his content. On my own blog, I wrote a big essay about how the whole theme of the six-movie epic was that the Jedi were just as bad as the Sith and that Luke eventually repudiates both sides, but nobody ever sees it because the Jedi are awesome wuxia badasses with the coolest weapons in cinema. :)

So I agree with you in some ways, but disagree in others. I certainly think Lucas intended it as strong political allegory, especially after reading the early draft scripts and “The Making of Star Wars”. He wanted to make a modern ‘Flash Gordon’, yes, but he also wanted to make a sci-fi ‘Apocalypse Now’.

And Mad Scientist…sorry, but I’m old school. It was Star Wars when I saw it in theaters, and it’s still Star Wars now. :)

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LightlyFrosted said on April 9th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Someone once pointed out to me that in a very real way, Star Wars has some rather worrisome connotations, morally speaking. A drug-runner, a slave-owner (droids, it was explained, being analogous to slaves – and with the ‘restraining bolts’, could I really argue?), and the princess of a planet (arguably the ruling aristocracy, but from what I’ve been able to piece together, Alderan wasn’t a monarchy…) get together and blow up a huge public works project. And these are the _good_ guys.

Sure, in context, it seems heroic; good villains make great heroes. But then, if you put Emperor Palpatine, or heck, even Darth Vader in the room with [i]virtually anyone else[/i], the other guy looks morally better. However, projects like the Endor Holocaust Project, which indicated that debris from the second Death Star would be enough to wipe out most of the life on the Forest Moon of Endor, make us really start to question our heroes…

And not just because Han shot first.

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Fred Davis said on April 9th, 2010 at 1:50 pm

But is it WRONG to wipe out life on the forest moon of endor? We know those Ewoks are capable of bringing down an army of the Empire’s best trained troops and equipment using nothing but pointy sticks and rocks, and we know they’re highly agressive and violent from the fact that the only reason they didn’t kill and eat the rebels they captured (without too much trouble) was because one of the most powerful jedi then in existence convinced the Ewoks that C3PO was a god.

The Ewok is a creature with no culture, no science, nothing beyond the most rudimentary of devices that fulfill their unceasing need to kill anything not like them. But why would that be? They seem to be highly intelligent and quick to learn how to operate the machinery they get their hands on, so why do they live in such primitive conditions? Because anything more advanced than those sticks and stones would require the creation of intermediate objects with no direct utility for murder, and so are never even conceived of by the brains of these fuzzy psychopaths.

In an alternate history where the death star did not wipe out all life on Endor, the Ewoks would have had access not only to lasers but space ships capable of travel to other stars. Stars that they would now know are inhabited by creatures to conquer… and destroyed.

In that history the galaxy would have greeted the Yuuzhan vong as liberators from the vile techno-menace of the Endorian Empire, which would have the majority of the inhabited galaxy ground down to dust beneath the soles of their blood stained footpads by that point.

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Evil Midnight Lurker said on April 9th, 2010 at 1:51 pm

SOY MILK IS PEOPLE! PEEEEEPUL!

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Its PEOPLE! THE MEDITERRANEAN WRAP IS PEOPLE!

oh wait. Maybe its baba ganoush. … Sorry.

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A film of the period that I haven’t seen anyone else mention here is Rollerball. There was also THX-1138, A Clockwork Orange, A Boy and His Dog — basically, every science fiction movie made between 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars.

What almost all of these movies had in common was that they shared a central theme — the future sucks. There were plenty of subthemes — the government sucks, corporations suck, capitalism sucks, war sucks, etc., etc. Basically, all of these movies were, as you say, the cinema of ideas, and those ideas were basically “We’re fucked, man! We’re fucked!”

Star Wars changed the paradigm by looking back to an earlier age. It looked back to old Flash Gordon serials and old westerns and old-fashioned adventure films. It looked back to a time when movies were actually fun, and intended to be so. During (I think) the 1978 rerelease (featuring the best Star Wars poster ever), there was a TV ad that said something like, “Never has so much time and money and energy been spent just for fun.”

Remember the era. The US had just come out of Vietnam after more than a decade of social unrest. Watergate had just happened, leading to a general disillusionment with government. This was also the period of serious economic recession — the first serious recession since the end of World War II — inflation, oil embargoes, the rise of international terrorism. It was a pretty turbulent time, and had been for a long time.

Essentially, people were tired. They turned inward to escape from the outer turmoil of the world. This was a period of rising spirituality, the resurgence of traditional religion and the general rejection of science and intellectualism.

In short, people wanted to kick back and have some fun. When people think of the middle ’70s, they generally think of disco and decadence, and there was a reason for that. It was also part of the reason Star Wars caught on.

In addition to being the end of a period of turmoil and cultural upheaval, the mid- to late-’70s was also the period in which the kids who had grown up in the ’60s and early ’70s on a steady diet of the expansion of the space race, Marvel Comics and reruns of Star Trek came of age. They were tired of everything their older siblings had been marching about and arguing over the decade before. They wanted fun, escapism and reassurance.

Star Wars came along at just the right time to catch a particular social wave, the same wave that, unfortunately, also brought in the shift toward conservatism in the ’80s and ultimately the social and cultural disaster of the early 2000s.

My 2 credits, for what it’s worth.

L.

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@buzz: “It takes Chuck four tries but he finally manages to destroy the entire planet.”

I’m not sure if you meant it to or not, but this made me literally LOL. At work, no less.

@Fred Davis: I knew there was something shady about those Ewoks, but I could never quite put my finger on it. Thank you.

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I agree with my fake cousin Brad in that the political stuff is probably accidental at best. I perceive it as a holdover from all the Jack Kirby stuff Lucas was ripping off, but then, I’m not a Warsie.

Soylent Green and The Omega Man are great, great movies, awesome for their time and post-modernly hilarious today. Combine them with Planet of the Apes, and you’ve got your real trilogy– Charlton Heston versus Dystopia.

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Lister Sage said on April 9th, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I didn’t read all the comments, so if I’m repeating someone I apologize: after seeing all of them, I feel the superior version is The Last Man On Earth starting Vincent Price. (I’m refering to Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. For those that don’t know the trilogy is: The Last Man On Earth, The Omega Man and I Am Legend.)

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Book’s better’n any of the films though.

I mean, yeah, generally a gimmee, but…

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“armed rebellion against the tyrannical government, aided by all the other races that the Powers That Be ruthlessly oppress.”

Desert Planet

Corrupt Empire

Blond haired teenage male hero

Pseudo-magical powers

The hero has a mysterious bond with his twin sister

A serpentine character with small, nearly useless arms

Now where have I heard all that before…

Oh, yes. Frank Herbert’s Dune series.

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@lamar — let’s not leave out the marvelous DEATH RACE 2000

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Edgar Allan Poe said on April 9th, 2010 at 7:20 pm

I’ve always thought of Soylent Green and The Omega Man as part of a trilogy, but I maintain that the third film is Planet of the Apes.

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Jonathan Roth said on April 9th, 2010 at 7:29 pm

I’m wondering how this classification scheme fits in with some more recent films:

Gattaca: Low budget future, wanted to seem very realistic (and I think it was) and was a film of ideas; it wanted you to think about this future and how it might come about.

Dark City: Very lush, descriptive (if dark) wated to feel real, lived etc. It was a fun and smart film (I thought so anyway) but I’m not sure if it wanted you to think about the setting that deeply or how much it wanted you to explore the “tabula rasa and rejection of it” ideas.

The Truman Show: Wanted to feel immersive and real even given the absurdist premise (no one even questions whether the company has any legal right to own Truman and use him this way? it’s presented as perfectly legal in the film, but come on.) Not sure how much it wanted you to think about it.

Eternal Susnshine of the Spotless mind: Definitely wanted to make you feel as though you were experiencing it. Again, how much they wanted you to think it over is a “Your Mileage may vary.” For me, it made a few good points about wanting to keep bad memories for their meaning, despite the pain. I don’t think it went too crazy on special effects to get you to feel as though you were part of it.

Pi: VERY immersive and maipulative and I liked that. I especially liked how I thought at the time, “Hollywood’s super-expensive CGI extravaganzas leave me cold, but just by filming the agles correctly, shaking the camera while playing the right song while staging things carefully evokes feelings of disorientation far better than anything else” I saw it as low budgets, brains, and creativity beat money and spectacle. Again, though, how much did the writer/director want you to think about the film?
Dunno.

Intacto: Low budget, low-key ways of evoking feeling of supernatural luck/fate manipulation. Somewhat documentary, “This is really happening” feel. I think were were eoncouraged to ask yourself how society of the luck-advanced would function, but I’m not sure I would call it a film of ideas.

Equlibrium: Dystopian sf/cool action gunfights. Lightweight in some ways, contemplative (outlawing emotion and emotion provoking art to avoid wars) in others. How much did they want you to think about it? Probably not too much (In a world without emotion, why would you want to *do* anything? Would instincts be enough to make you want to raise a family?)

The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable: again, low key, non-special effects heavy ways of showing supernatural events and abilities. Smart films (in opinions) wanting to feel real, welcoming at least one second watching, but I probably wouldn’t call either a film of ideas (unless one of them was, what would it be like if there really were superheroes?)

So I’ve got one film up there that I definately would call a film of ideas, and I’m not to0 sure about the rest. But wait:

District 9: I definately would call this one a film of ideas (if not executed as well as it should have been) with a documentary, you-are-there-approach.

The Surrogates: Again, not as well executed as I would have hoped. Better and more expensive special effects than most, but not relying on them to carry the film(I think so anyway) and wanted to to think about the costs of that kind of society.

And lastly, The Sci-fi channel’s Battlestar Galactica series definately wanted you to feel like a fly on the wall and live it while (at least in the earlier seasons) seemed to meld fun and well made special effects with questions about how far people should compromise in desperate situations, limits of martial law vs. civil government. etc.

I just remembered: Jurasic Park: Special effects out the wazoo, and wanted you to feel that you were there and threatened by the dinos, but also wanted you to question whether using the technology in that way was a good idea.

So I think we’ve got some good “films of ideas” in this generation merging with the “You are there” feeling and it can be done without relying too much on a budget. Of course, I want more smart, creative, low-budget, inventive films of ideas in the vein of “Gattaca” and “District Nine” and I don’t have too much need or want for more Star Wars or Matrix type films. (I liked Episodes 4-6 when I was younger, the prequels left me cold, and I respect that the first Matrix movie wanted people to ask “what is reality” type questions, but I just wasn’t impressed and didn’t see the sequels.)

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What, no one mentions Silent Running?

I think Bill has it right: Kirby’s stuff, the Fourth World books in particular, have strong political undertones that were transferred to Star Wars when Lucas swiped them. Star Wars is pretty apolitical, as witnessed by the hijacking of its themes by Ronald Reagan (which makes no bloody sense at all–it takes some serious chutzpah to portray America as the fractured underdogs taking on the monolithic, massively powerful Soviets). It’s just “stuff that resonated with people” without a lot of thought put into it.

Andrew Hickey had an interesting post a while back, reviewing “Joe the Barbarian” (http://andrewhickey.info/2010/03/14/joe-the-barbarian/) that touched a lot on Star Wars’ influence on pop culture as well, in this case the overuse of The Hero’s Journey. Obviously it’s not Lucas’s fault that everyone started using Joseph Campbell as a template for everything, but it certainly is annoying, and coupled with the comments in this post, it’s a little hard not to develop bad feelings towards Star Wars. But then, as someone already said, Star Wars is almost infinitely better than any of the 70s SF movies being mentioned; Logan’s Run and The Omega Man are probably the best, and they still kind of suck. The short term effect of Star Wars was a wave of excellent SF movies, so there’s that.

Incidentally, I’d say that 70s-style SF has made a bit of a comeback in the last decade, probably due mostly to The Matrix. One of the cool things about that movie is that it manages to be both pre- and post-Star Wars–it’s a high-tech action spectacle with an immersive world, and a Hero’s Journey plot (less annoying here because the movie is overtly about spirituality and transcendence), but it’s also a paranoid story about a hero uncovering The Horrible Truth about his dystopian world, just like Logan’s Run and Soylent Green. And you’ve got the post-apocalyptic themes in there too.

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And Johnathan Roth touches on some of the stuff I was talking about in that post. Nice.

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Fred Davis said on April 9th, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Speaking of recent movies with Jude Law in them, Existenz and a few other movies by Cronenberg also operate as films of ideas even as a sub-level beneath the body horror – scanners is a commentary and reaction to the thalidomide scandal, videodrome was (accidentally – watching it now a days and you see the movie critiquing a meme that hadn’t quite occurred yet when it was made) a take on modern reality tv shows as well as (intentionally this time) a critique on television as a discrete sociological event, and who among us has not worried about the problems raised by matter transmission technology that The Fly brings up?

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Actually, “reality” shows are by no means a modern phenomenon…they had them in 1980, for sure. It helps to realize that the channel being (lightly) fictionalized in that movie is Toronto’s CityTV, which was (and still is) pretty edgy, showing softcore porn in late-night slots, among other things. Videodrome is, obviously, meant to be a few steps further than they would have gone, but they were definitely ahead of the bandwagon in regards to this stuff.

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Mary Warner said on April 9th, 2010 at 11:13 pm

I still haven’t seen Soylent Green, and unfortunately, I heard about the ending the very first time I ever heard of the movie. (I assume that’s usually the case, actually.)

I wonder if Charlton Heston was so adamant about gun rights because he’d experienced so many bleak futures, and he wanted to have protection for when the collapse of society came.

Would Mad Max (the first one) be a pre-Star Wars film that came after Star Wars? (Was it after Star Wars in Australia? I’m not sure.)

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Fred Davis said: soylent green, the food stuff, was MADE OF people who had been euphanised

Speaking as someone who plays the euphonium, I fully support euphanisation.

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Tim O'Neil said on April 10th, 2010 at 1:50 am

I was going to question why no one had mentioned Silent Running but someone finally did.

And yeah – I agree entirely that the politics in Star Wars – especially the prequels – is often ignored or dismissed. The prequels are about fallibility and the folly of trusting ancient superstition when your enemies are willing to exploit your failings. Oh, and don’t let Jar Jar nominate your Dictator.

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Just to clarify for everyone who thinks I’m reading too much into Star Wars–the book ‘The Making of Star Wars’ examines contemporary sources, early drafts of the script, and interviews Lucas’ friends during the period he spent writing the book. He was very deliberately writing a political allegory, with the Empire as America and the Emperor standing in as a surrogate for Nixon.

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Lot’s of interesting theories presented here. I can tell you from personal experience of the era that:

Logan’s Run was reviled, Soylent Green was loved (by fans and panned by critics) and Planet of the Apes was a phenom of the time.

Another interesting aspect of those three films in relation to the fantasy pastiche of almost a Flash Gordon reboot that was Star Wars is that all three were based on novels by fairly well respected authors – Nolan, Harrison and Boulle, while SW sprang forth whole from the genius forehead that is Lucas (not); rather, Lucas did what Cameron is now making his billions off of – stealing from everyone and mixing crap together, probably following a marketing survey (which color makes you think that an alien is a good guy?)

Some here have made brief mention, but films are also very much a product of their times AND can’t really be removed from their cultural context: we were still living firmly in the cold war when those flicks came out and everyone of us considered unexpected annihilation part of our daily lives.

Finally, most of the films mentioned here are linked to (for viewing) from http://www.rimworlds.com/theclassicsciencefictionchannel

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Post-Star Wars also yielded up even more refined sf classics. See the Antipodean The Quiet Earth. Imagine another take on I Am Legend, except there are no vampires and the hero takes to wearing a dress and kneecapping statues of Christ.

There’s also Don McKellar’s wonderful Last Night, which celebrates the end of humanity as a great opportunity for a party. Of course it’s a Canadian film.

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karellan said on April 10th, 2010 at 9:38 am

Seavey, I was aware of the difference between the sci-fi movies I liked and those I didn’t, but I never made the Star Wars connection before. I was always really confused (and slightly angry) about why the great modern sci-fi movies were so few and far between when there was so much brainless crap out there. I mean, how many Chronicles of Riddick do we need to wade through to find the Solaris and Children of Men of the world?

I never made the Star Wars connection though, but your article points out very clearly the shift from “idea” movies to spectacle movies. Thanks for flipping the switch for me.

(As an aside, this was my biggest problem with Avatar. I mean, the title of the damn movie is a reference to a science fiction idea, and the movie does absolutely NOTHING with it. I was hoping for some exploration of the avatar concept, but Cameron barely even touches on it.)

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Interesting to see this just a couple of days after posting my thoughts about the original and remake versions of CLASH OF THE TITANS:

http://kddr.blogspot.com/2010/04/release-hoard-potato.html

The original CLASH was descended from a different lineage than the “Cinema of Ideas”. It WANTED to be a post-STAR WARS film, but didn’t quite manage it.

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You can certainly read those political statements in to the original trilogy, but I think their presence is a pretty happy accident more than a deliberate choice. Compare all of this to what was going on with Revenge of the Sith where Lucas really was trying to be political and it was all HEY LOOK YOU GUYS HOLY SHIT PALPATINE AND THE EMPIRE IS JUST LIKE BUSH AND THE NEOCONS!!!!!

I don’t think Lucas really has it in him to be so subtle in his storytelling that political subtext deliberately inserted into the first trilogy would just be missed or misinterpreted by so many people.

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My view is that pre-STAR WARS, sci-fi was in kind of a rut. We were getting (psuedo) intellectual movies, but they started to be repetitive- our technology and excess will create a soulless and sterile society where emotions have no place, etc. There’s a teeny bit of that in STAR WARS, with the Empire being very sterile and monochromatic, but the emphasis was on actually being fun.

An interesting story is that FUTUREWORLD, the sequel to WESTWORLD, ended up being made independently where the first had been an MGM production. The reason was that MGM decided they were going to make one science fiction picture that year (which I guess was LOGAN’S RUN.) The market was that tiny.

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There is no-one now living who has any right to see Soylent Green unspoiled.
I knew the ending for a good twenty years before I ever saw it. My parents went to see it in the theatre, and as I was a kid and the movie was (I think) an “R” at that time, I had to stay home with a sitter. After, I demanded to know what the deal with the movie was (I had been fascinated by the stills on display in the theatre window, something they still did at that time).
My mother gave me a cleaned up summary, that nevertheless included Heston’s famous revelatory end-of-movie exclamation. So I was “spoiled” (ugh) for most of my life before ever actually seeing that movie.
It’s on that list of movies (some others have been cited in previous comments) which not only are you very likely to be unable to avoid spoilers for due to their fame and cultural saturation, but that you just don’t have any right to expect to remain spoiler-free for, let alone complain about if someone mentions the info.

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Piranhtachew said on April 11th, 2010 at 12:21 am

MEW WAS TALKING A BUNCH OF CRAP ABOUT ORIGINAL LIFEFORMS BEING BETTER THAN CLONES, AND MEWTWO WAS STILL SAD THAT THE PROFESSOR’S DAUGHTER DIED.

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It amazes me that people still take Lucas seriously as a filmmaker, and don’t recognize Star Wars as a happy accident.

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Mary Warner said on April 11th, 2010 at 11:49 pm

People don’t recognise Star Wars as a happy accident because Lucas made American Grafitti previously. Two brilliant and innovative films in a row like that doesn’t happen just by happy accident. Just as you can divide science fiction movies into pre- and post-Star Wars categories, teenage movies can be split into pre- and post-American Grafitti. It completely revolutionised the genre. But people often fail to realise how innovative it was because it’s become one of the most imitated films in history.

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ImperatorMJ said on April 12th, 2010 at 7:27 am

What about Blade Runner?

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I think Blade Runner is part of a different trilogy. I’d say: Alien/Blade Runner/Escape From New York. If the thread of LR/SG/OM is that they’re allegories for current social problems, the theme of Alien/Blade Runner/Escape from New York is the Evil Corporation (in Escape it’s a particularly cynical government, but it’s the same thing). Life as a commodity, people as tools, and expendable protagonists. Call it Corportist Science Fiction.

(as a side note, I’m going to disagree that Star Wars has a political element. I’ve heard the Watergate and Vietnam arguments before, and I just don’t buy them. The Empire is just the bad guys. Ming the Merciless not Tricky Dick. In fact, one of the things that makes the original trilogy work so much better than the prequel trilogy is that there isn’t any fashion, politics or design work to bog things down.)

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Re: supergp:

It’s not that Star Wars was a happy accident, it’s that Lucas quit directing for twenty years and assumed he could just pick up where he left off. Directing a movie ain’t like riding a bike, George. :)

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Actually, it’s probably that Lucas burned out on STAR WARS sometime during the making of JEDI. Although there’s a lot of skill and effort in the new stuff, it’s pretty much just a technical exercise for him now- he stopped caring about these characters decades ago.
And it’s THREE classic films- THX 1138 is less revolutionary in it’s impact ( it’s very much an example of the kind of sci-fi STAR WARS put an end to), but it’s a fine example of it’s genre.

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Well, know I’ll have to go and watch all those…But a quick point on Logan’s Run: I’ve read up on it a bit, and it strikes me as a very anti-Boomer movie in a time when the Boomers were coming into their own in terms of film and as a target market. Any substance to that impression?

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I would group “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” with the pre-Star Wars science fiction movies even though it was made after Star Wars. It is the only Trek movie that feels like an adaptation of a classic science fiction novel.

It’s also widely considered to be the most boring of the Star Trek films (not the worst, but the most boring); make of that what you will.

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@Carter: actually Star Trek:TMP is the first Star Wars Backlash picture. There’s a lot of talk on the DVD on how they made the movie to contrast with Star Wars Flash Gordon/Space Opera aesthetic.

Which is why everyone goes out of their way to avoid doing anything remotely exciting for 2+hours. Also, I think Clarke developed the story, and he’s not exactly known for zippy fare.

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Star Wars is dead to me now. And I saw the original 8 times in the theatre on its first release.

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Fred Davis said on April 13th, 2010 at 10:25 pm

IT probably bares mentining that Lucas did work on a few movies between jedi and phantom menace – he was producer and executive producer respectively on howard the duck and Labyrinth, sometime shortly after jedi the suck just seemed to become strong in that one.

And I say that as someone who sort of likes labyrinth (mostly for Bowie’s presence really), but its not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination.

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I don’t think we can dismiss Lucas’ inter-SW period so easily. After all, there were two Indiana Jones movies in that period. (And Willow. Which probably isn’t good, but I have nostalgia for. (Ditto Labyrinth.))

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vortexgods said on May 15th, 2010 at 2:47 am

Wait…. what about Robocop/Alien/Running Man and the like?

These all seem to be about ideas, but perhaps I’m wrong?

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