The early 1970's, specifically the period between 2001 and Star Wars, was a very interesting period in American science fiction film. Prior to the Spielberg/Lucas revolution that occurred in the later years, most science fiction films were dark and thought provoking. Many drew some inspiration from Kubrik's successful masterpiece. I mean, look at this lineup:
Colossus: The Forbin Project - 1970
The Adromeda Strain - 1971
The Omega Man - 1971
THX 1138 - 1971
Soylent Green - 1973
Logan's Run - 1976
WALL-E, but about 1972's Silent Running, starring Bruce Dern in the lead, and almost exclusive, role.
Joan Baez, the prominent musical voice of the 60's flower child movement. When I said natural resources, I meant huge intact landscapes of forestry and entire ecosystems preserved in giant temperature controlled domes, transparent to allow the sun's light in. Dern plays the head gardener, Freeman Lowell, on his particular ship, assisted by several small helper robots. His goof-off shipmates seem not to care about the payload they are carrying, which is portrayed as the typical attitude of earth's general population in this future. Dern's performance seems odd at times. He preaches to his shipmates about how no one cares anymore about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees, and does it with such passion that he comes across to them, and to us, like a mad-man. But the great irony is that given the circumstances, the imminent loss of all that is beautiful on our planet, his words do not sound crazy to us at all. We would be saying the same in his shoes, and we would be acting just as desperately if no one else seemed to understand or care.
Douglas Trumbull was a special effects director for 2001. Several others on the visual effects team went on to join ILM and work on the original Star Wars. Although you can see the obvious miniaturization in places, it is rather good for its time. The ships have the freight train-like design of the Discovery - long thin body with large round cabin section at front and engine in back. The choice to put the ships near Saturn was mainly so that they could use space scenes that were created for 2001 but never used. The sets are filled with interesting things like hexagonal storage containers, go-cart transport vehicles, and round pool tables equipped with a robotic opponent for practice.
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