On the other hand, the ideas it dealt with and the way they were portrayed were way ahead of its time. It had an all star cast, with Charlton Heston in the lead role, and excellent direction considering the number of people involved in many of the scenes. But the images it presented were powerful enough that I remembered it long after watching it with my Dad as a kid. In a genre where ideas are key, it remains a significant contributor.
The movie deals primarily with the problem of overpopulation. It postulates a world where humans have either consumed or polluted most of the earth's natural resources. Animals are all but gone and what's left of agriculture is processed into little square packets by the Soylent corporation and rationed to the public. Only the rich can afford most of the items we take for granted, like liquor, soap, running water, fresh fruits and veggies, and most of all, space. Apartments are tiny and many people just sleep in the hallways of buildings after a strictly enforced curfew. Churches look like crisis centers filled with the sick and dying. Although not all the factors involved are revealed, the way the people simply accept the dirty, crowded conditions is quite haunting, as are the large tractors that come when food riots break out to literally scoop people off the street. Even books are rare as survival is the main concern of the population. The film's richness comes from the fact that almost every scene is filled with innuendo's that provide fascinating windows into this strange future. For example, we're treated to a first hand look at assisted suicide centers that allow the elderly to choose to die on their own terms in exchange for a full Disney style surround vision show of the most beautiful aspects of the world before it was destroyed by man. This is all played out without fanfare, no horrifying musical scores (except at the end), and no narration. In fact, there is a wonderful flash-forward sequence at the beginning to provide some sense of the stretch of time between today and this bleak future. It is done completely with a picture montage of real world images and music rather than narration as most directors might choose today. Of course, there is one thing I'd like to know - are the crowd control guards wearing football helmets to indicate the general economic hardship or because the film producers ran out of money?
Ed Robinson, the actor who played Sol, whose death in the film is quite central, died in reality in January of 1973, two weeks after finishing the film. There is also a nice cameo of Dick Van Patten and Star Trek fans will recognize the heavily accented voice of Celia Lovsky, who also played the Vulcan ambassador T'Pau in the episode Amok Time.
I used to have a free link for it, but now you have to pay to watch on youtube at this link. At least you can see the trailer for free.