Soylent Green

Year: 1973

Production: MGM

Director: Richard Fleischer

Starring: Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson, Leigh Taylor-Young, Chuck Connors, Joseph Cotten, Paula Kelly

Screenwriter: Stanley R. Greenberg

Based on Make Room! Make Room! (1966) by Harry Harrison

97 minutes; Color

A New York ploice detective (Heston) in an AD2022 marked by overpopulation investigates what appears to be a routine murder and in the end discovers that "soylent green", the main food for the world's population, is actually made from dead human bodies. The plot has little to do with Harrison's book, whose pro-contraception message it nervously avoids for fear of alienating Roman Catholic viewers (Harrison has spoken eloquently of the perversion of his work), but the vision of a teeming, overpopulated and festering New York is recreated quite well. The cannibalistic denouement is purely for shock value, and makes no relational sense; indeed Harrison coined the word "soylent" from "soy beans" and "lentils", and the people of his future are largely and necessarily vegetarian. Edward G. Robinson's fine performance as a dying old man coaxed into a euthanasia clinic is touching, for he was dying in real life as well. The film won a Nebula.

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