Soylent Green is exceptionally well made

Okay so the trick I find to getting people back into macro-blogging seems to be to keep posting and also commenting on other peoples stuff, to get involved in all kinds of random back and forth chit-chat. I sometimes enter this paralysis of blogging because I go “Well item X isn’t really big enough to write about, so I’ll just post a 2 liner on facebook” and “Item Y isn’t really big enough so I’ll retweet the link I saw it at and not really write about it”.

But that way lies madness! (and micro-blogging, which I like for daily chit-chat but I like to see it balanced with longer writings by people and general catchups).

Anyway, so I thought I’d actually write some useful stuff. Well not useful but longer than just “Oh for fucks sake [politician] why are you allowed to make laws when you say [fucking stupid thing]”.

Okay so last weekend we were doing a polycule staycation, in that we were trying to hang out and do things every day mostly together (although I managed to fail my calendaring on Friday and also had to work Monday, but hey I was there for the whole weekend) which was pretty boss.

Part of this was on Sunday I posited to spend the afternoon watching movies, and hence poured over the shelves and then headed to Hummuhvuh to fill in a couple of gaps and while there I found the new “Pre owned” section they’ve got and managed to pick up a copy of Soylen Green for £2, which I thought was pretty reasonable.

Now the really interesting thing was that everyone watching knew the twist there was no way this wasn’t the case, but the way the film was shot meant that this really didn’t matter. While I was expecting the whole film to hinge on exposing the horror of the whole eating-people thing instead it turned out to be a beautifully shot, wonderfully written film about the dangers of over population and exploitation of natural resources, climate change, as well as the ability of humans to cope with such things by bonding together.

Most of the film is about Thorn and his relationships with people, the love between him and Sol (his researcher) as clearly they’ve been working and living together for years, with Sol trying to convey to Thorn some of what he’s lost by being born in this period of history.

The other major relationship is Thorn and Shirl, who is the “furniture” (i.e. a woman owned by his building and provided to him for his sexual/romantic pleasure) of Simonson, whose death starts the whole thing. Thorn and Shirl start by sharing lust or at least Thorn lusts for Shirl, and over time they start to form a bond of romance where she even offers to give up her role as “furniture” which entails a safe place to live and food to move in with him even though he can’t offer her much.

Thorn and Sol’s quest for truth is almost Lovecraftian in its pattern however, they’re both driven by a desire for the truth as far as I can tell. Sol seems determined to work out whats going on from an academic point of view, one last challenge in his life. Thorn seems to want to get to the bottom of the murder, his pride in his ability to do his job well and protect the people driving him, and hence the two of them form a fantastic team, each attacking the problem on their own and meeting for their meagre shared meals to discuss their findings, but the truth eventually destroying them (and the Priest who learns it from Simonson and later cannot tell it to Thorn).

Sol goes to The Exchange which is a gathering of old scholars and researchers, living in a flat in a seemingly abandoned building (there is no one else there and no one sleeps on the stairs) who I suspect of being partially funded by the police as their main research body (Thorn tells Hatcher to tell The Exchange they were right) and the truth he learns drives him to seek government assisted suicide, going “home”, no longer able to live in the world in a scene that is just beautiful, the way its shot, the music, the actor playing Sol’s ability to emote with nothing but his eyes and face the sadness and tiredness of the character and the world.

Thorn himself finally makes the quest, spurred on by Sol’s death he manages to find the link between the body disposal plants and the Soylent plants and that the bodies are being reprocessed, when he tries to go back to town to seek solice with Shirl he’s attacked by a group of assassins sent by Soylent (and possibly the government) who he eventually kills all of, quite possibly being fatally wounded in the process.

The whole film was just beautiful, the composition rested on having good and experienced actors doing most of the roles, and also on what seems almost like Brechtian gestus, or creating frescos on the film, there are a number of points where scenes end with an almost still shot, the characters paused to demonstrate the socioeconomic status and pressure societies under, the most notable of these being the fantastic shot of the priest sat at the Altar surrounded by the homeless after Thorn comes to interview him.

Wonderful stuff.

The only criticism? The blood special effects are a bit 1970s and hence jarring, the rest of it is just fine to be honest.

7 thoughts on “Soylent Green is exceptionally well made

  1. mr_jez

    Kinda surprised that you guys hadn’t seen this one before, but glad that now you have. I guess you must have recognised Charlton Heston, but what about Edward G. Robinson?

    1. mostlyfoo

      Having had a look through his wiki article I’m pretty sure I’ve not seen anything else he’s done, which seems a shame as he put in a fine performance. I have however just read the background to the euthanasia scene and yeah… I can see why it was so powerful now.

          1. mr_jez

            I wouldn’t say I’m familiar, but I dabble. They’re a wonderful window into a world known to my parents and grandparents. In some ways they are simpler films, cinema was still young, but in many they are just as rich as those of today.

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