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Cine-Men: So, what’s the secret of ‘Soylent Green’?

     “What is the secret of Soylent Green?” This was the advertising tagline for the movie by same name, and in an interesting turn, a question many readers will know without ever having seen the movie.

     The film starts off in a situation not too far from today’s headlines. It is the year 2022 and Earth is suffering from severe overcrowding and greenhouse gases, causing a severe food shortage. Enough of a shortage where the very idea of fresh meat and vegetables is considered myth.

     In this movie, the viewer follows Detective Frank Thorn (Charlton Heston) and his search for the killer of a member of the elite council in charge of producing and distributing what little food exists.

     The hunt begins to unravel conspiracy after conspiracy. There is bribery, assassination, coverups and at the very top, the answer to “What is the secret of Soylent Green?”

My Take:

     I’ve always had a love for older movies and this film perfectly encapsulates why. Without the modern-day invention of CGI, everything must be real, or at least as real as they can manage with practical effects. I think that always looks better than CGI.

     Not to mention, this film has some of the best thematic explanations of all time. One scene encapsulates this perfectly. Detective Thorn finds a toddler next to their now dead- from-starvation mother.

     And what does he do? Simply picks him up, goes to a church and gives him to a nun. With absolutely no words spoken, both characters know what’s going on.

     This situation is so familiar to them it can be done with the silent apathy of a normal day job. And I think that is both terrifying and brilliant. That is apex storytelling.

      Not to mention, there are multiple things one can look over at a scholarly level when discussing this film. Would society regress to that in the film, how could we prevent such actions?

     Topics like these in the film, or any other film for that matter, that makes one think and reflect, I find spectacular.

      However, there are some things about this film and its age that do drag it down. Mostly, its actions and attitudes towards women and minorities that can make a modern audience shift uncomfortably in their seats.

      You can see similar themes in other movies that came out at around this time; the James Bond franchise comes to mind. And of course, as said above, due to all effects being as practical as they come, there are some flubs with the action. But, that’s easily forgivable with what they had access to.
Now, as I’ve been alluding to, I will not mention the secret of Soylent Green in this article. For the sole reason that if someone reading is one of the rare few that don’t know: do not look it up.

     I want you to put this down and go watch the film. It is a cinematic hallmark that I would put up there with the likes of “Citizen Kane” and “Lawrence of Arabia.” A 10/10 de facto dystopian film.


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