OK, I’ve been a TV slug this Saturday. Today I’ve watched TCM, Turner Classic Movies, seeing The Journey, Rio Lobo and just now, Soylent Green. For the first time. How could a scifi aficionado like me have missed Soylent Green for 35 years? Well, I did. Having read reviews and seen references, I thought I knew the story pretty well. I actually planned to go biking after Rio Lobo, but Soylent drew me in.
The science fiction was thorough, starting with the very believable meltdown of culture. NYC is supposed to have 40 million inhabitants, then later we are told that 20 million have no jobs. Somehow that doesn’t sound so far-fetched today. When Thorn (Charlton Heston) investigates the murder of Simonson (Joseph Cotten) the apartment super complains that nothing works. That doesn’t sound far-fetched, either. Thorn calls Simonson’s young companion, Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young), the “Furniture.” I had heard about that somewhere. She comes (hmmm) with the apartment like furnishings, but can be replaced if she gets old or worn out. To get around, Thorn has to step over the bodies of homeless people sleeping on stairs and sidewalks. My stepdaughter tells me that is already the case in Quito, Ecuador.
The reactions of Thorn and Sol (Edward G Robinson) as they ate the real food that Thorn stole from the crime scene hit just the right notes of physical pleasure and surprise (and was not that different than my reactions to the homemade bread, juice and ice cream that my wife has been making for the last year.) And Robinson, who died two weeks after the wrap, struck just the right note as someone who was old enough to remember something of what Earth had lost when he asked, “How did we come to this?”