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4.4 out of 5 stars
Silent Running [DVD] [1972]
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99 of 102 people found the following review helpful
on 14 September 2003
These are just some of the words you can use to describe this wonderful film. Although it's now thirty years since original release it is anachronistic neither in terms of story nor special effects, and one could argue even more relevant three decades later with America's reluctance to sign the Kyoto Treaty.
For ME it has all the hallmarks of what great art SHOULD contain; a relevance to one's life and the abilty to challenge psychologically and philosophically on a number of levels. Indeed lasting eighty minutes and with only one speaking protagonist for eighty percent of it's duration, much is left implicit for the viewer to interpret. The plot of the film is simple. Cut forward to a time in the future when overpopulation and pollution of the environment has forced the last remaining forests to be moved into outer space on craft orbiting Saturn, until such time that earth is ready to replant. The craft are inhabited by four men, three of which exemplify the socially ordered and homogenous population back on earth, the other Freeman Lowell (played to perfection by Bruce Dern) being more cerebral and less bovine. After eight years they receive an order to destroy the forests and return the craft to commercial service. To save one of these forests Lowell has to murder the other three crewmembers and resign himself to a life of enforced exile without human company. Alone in space, save for two robots for company, Lowell has ample time to reflect on his actions in a way similar to Raskolnikov in "Crime and Punishment". It is also gives an insight into the psychology of isolation and alienation. The answer being for me that some HUMAN contact (even though the robots have more character and humanity than Lowell's previous crewmates), even of the lowest common denominator is necessary for mental 'health'. This is reflected in the sad ending. The DVD version of the film offers nothing more than the tape version other than a dodgy trailer for the film pre-release circa 1972 and language choice. As a footnote look out for an early example of brand/product placing! Enjoy!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2011
This is one of my favourite films. I remember watching this with an old partner, i had waxed lyrical about it for months. At the end, i cried my eyes out as i always do and i was shocked that he was so unmoved and ambivalent. I later dumped him.

If you are not moved by the final sequence, if your heart is not racing and your eyes bawling you're not human!!

Seriously though, this is an underrated masterpiece from an inexperienced director who obviously had a great vision. It has ecological themes and is not a space shoot em up, but give it a go if you want a deep and meaningful experience.

The watering can...im welling up...
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2011
"Natural" is a word that often sprang to my mind while watching Eureka's 'Silent Running' Blu-ray. This is, inherently, a rather soft film with an abundance of grain; and I'm very glad to see it's been kept that way. Grain levels do unexpectedly spike on occasion (leading to "snow storm" instances), but there's always loads of fine detail on show. Take a look at the clearly visible textures on clothing, or the complex exterior shots of the Valley Forge for just a couple of excellent examples of the increased clarity on offer here.

Colours stand out to me as the transfer's most impressive quality. Skin tones are pleasingly normal, while the lush greens and earthy browns of the forest dome genuinely pop - as does Lowell's bright blue jacket. There's no "teal and orange" controversy going on here, that's for sure.

I did notice a small amount of edge enhancement, but it only appeared in one or two scenes and was far less obvious than some of the thick white halos seen burdening other discs. There's also some shimmering here and there, but you can probably put that down to the film's source materials. On the whole, Eureka has done a commendably cinematic job with their transfer.

Also pleasing is the faithfully presented HD mono audio. Dialogue and music is clear and precise, while sound effects are satisfyingly robust. That early scene where the domes are being detached, with everything clanging, screeching and then exploding is a real wake-up-the-neighbours moment. As impressive as a remixed HD 5.1 option can be, I'm a big fan of these more old-school audio presentations.

Eureka complement the film with a decent selection of extra features, including a comprehensive making-of documentary, interviews with Bruce Dern and Douglass Trumbull (both of whom also provide a commentary), while there's even an isolated music and effects track for your auditory pleasure. Yes, there's little new material here, but it's still good value overall. In addition, the SteelBook packaging is nice and sturdy - neatly bearing the original theatrical poster art - and houses an extensively detailed 48 page booklet.

Although this is not my first Eureka Blu-ray (I may have bought the... 'Human Centipede'... ahem), I'm ashamed to admit that this is indeed my first `Masters of Cinema' purchase. But if this impressive high-definition release of Silent Running is anything to go by, then I'm sure it won't be my last. Eureka has clearly treated Trumbull's eco-friendly sci-fi cult classic with the utmost respect, meaning this release deserves your attention.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2001
30 years on, this movie is still powerful and poignant. The environmental message is just as important today as it was in the 70's.
You won't see aliens zooming around and firing lasers at each other, and the only explosions are disturbing images as the very last forests are destroyed forever. This is an emotional film, which goes far deeper than most SF either before or since. The story is about people, not flashy special effects, and must surely be considered a classic.
I cannot imagine any sensible viewer coming away from this movie without pausing to consider its deeper message, which is still highly relevant today.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 June 2010
Although this film is dated and is incredibly nearly forty years old, its still a brilliant movie to watch. Bruce Dern is amongst the crew of various space crafts that are trying to save some of the earths trees, woodlands and forests.

Assisting the human inhabitants of the ships are little droid robots who help with maintenance and carry out the more dangerous tasks aboard the vessels. When the other members of the crew show their disregard for the forests, Dern takes matters into his own hands.

What follows is a very heart rending story that could well reflect the future of todays planet! Excellent and well worth buying and adding to your collection!
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 17 November 2011
Silent Running is a film that now divides people more than ever, 40 years on from its initial release. Those watching it expecting an action packed science fiction film in the vein of Star Wars will be disappointed. This is a surprisingly tender film, wrapped up in a sci-fi skin. A science-fiction film with a heart. The film was directed by Douglas Trumbull, who had been chief special effects supervisor on Kubrick's epic 2001 - A Space Odyssey, but this was his first film on his own (still at the surprisingly young age of 29). One of the first things that impresses is the standard of effects throughout. Yes, to a modern audience, and considering the extra definition afforded by Blu-ray, there's some scenes that look less than convincing, but on the whole it still holds up well. The story itself is deceptively simple: four men are the crew of the space-station Valley Forge, a vessel containing the last forests from the Earth, now a swelteringly hot planet. As they orbit Saturn, the call comes from Earth that they are to jettison and destroy the domes housing these forests. This is too much for the environmental botanist Freeman Lowell (played by Bruce Dern), and the rest of the film follows his plight to save these forests.

One of the highlights is actor Bruce Dern, who by the nature of the film ends up carrying much of it himself. He's an immensely watchable actor, and though he's not playing the most sympathetic of characters, you understand why Lowell is going to the extremes that he does. The crew are accompanied by three service drones, Huey, Louie and Dewey, and because of their unconventional size, Trumbull hired three double-amputees to play the robots. Again, with few actors in the film, the drones are characters themselves, and are one of the most memorable things about it. So, though it's slow by today's standards and won't be to everyone's taste, the acting, special effects, and more to the point, the environmental message, are spot on: this is an excellent film which deserves to be seen. Also, it's one of Mark Kermode's favourite films. Make of that what you will.

This is a Limited Edition Blu-ray only release as part of Eureka Entertainment's superb Masters of Cinema Series. Part of a deal with Universal to celebrate the studios' centenary in 2012, this has been given an fantastic release (ironically far better than that which is afforded to most of Universal's in-house releases). The picture itself is one of the best I've seen of a 70s film on Blu-ray, sharp throughout, with strong, vibrant colours. On the very odd occasion the image is almost overcome with very strong grain, but this is undoubtedly an issue with the film stock itself. There's a DTS-HD Master Audio track in English, as well as an isolated music and effects track, both of which have no problems. Special features are numerous, but it should be noted that they are all in SD. First of all, there is an audio commentary with Trumbull and actor Bruce Dern which is certainly informative, if not one of the most exciting commentaries I've ever heard. There's also a contemporary and refreshingly candid 1972 on-set documentary which lasts 50 minutes, covering all aspects of the production, such as the problems of shooting a film on an abandoned US aircraft carrier. There are also two video pieces with Trumbull, totalling well over half an hour, as well as a conversation with Bruce Dern lasting 10 minutes and an original trailer. Finally, this wouldn't be a Masters of Cinema release if there wasn't a booklet inside, and in this case we get a 48-page colour booklet full of production photos (from Trumbull himself) and memories from the cinematographer, special designs coordinator and composer.

Especially as this is a Limited release (a condition apparently imposed by Universal) anyone with an interest in 70s sci-fi, or looking for a sci-fi film with real emotion should not hesitate to pick this up, as this will undoubtedly become very difficult (and expensive) to get hold of in the future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2011
Considering its' age, Silent Running still stands the test of time relatively well. I was a little bemused by the U rating considering some of the violence and the fact that the central character murders his colleagues within about the first half hour! That aside, I thought Bruce Dern was great & refute some of the other reviewers remarks about his over acting. I found him absorbing and totally convincing in the way he embodied the character. Full cuteness marks goes to the robots that reminded me of 1970s TV sets on legs. If anything, they help to date the film, but due to the overall strength of the piece and the message that was being delivered I found myself able to excuse this. The film is slow moving at times. This makes a change, however, from the usual short attention span, crash, bang, wallop movies of today. Clocking in at 85 mins long the film does get to the point quite quickly & I had a lump in my throat during the closing frame.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2012
I first saw this movie many years ago and forgot how good it was, or I was too young to appreciate Bruce Dern's performance as dedicated but frustrated conservationist Freeman Lowell aboard the starship Valley Forge. This is a beautiful little story with an important message that is still valid today. The movie's G cert makes it suitable for all the family, and different ages will find different aspects of the movie endearing, while adults will identify with the main character and his day to day frustrations. The HD transfer is utterly exceptional, so even if you have this on DVD it is worth buying again. Extras are great too, with a fascinating 50 min "making of" documentary which I watch immediately after the main feature. I'll watch this many times over, I have no doubt, and have recommended to at least 3 people since last weekend. Big thumbs up, expecially id you have never had the pleasure of watching this cinema classic.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2011
As a fan of this film since childhood I have long awaited a transfer of it that will finally do justice to the movie. The Masters of Cinema 'range' is a brand well worth checking out - especially for older films. They have done a marvellous job in cleaning up the image with a completely digitally restored high-definition 1080p transfer - its just a shame that the soundtrack is monaural & not in 5.1 or better surround. The effects hold up quite well considering that Blu ray can be so crisp & clean as to show up older films in this manner. Yes its not up to modern movie standards but were talking about a 40year old film here!
The set comes with a stuck on outer sleave that is mainly on the back of the case but has an overhang,over the top & comes down about 1.5cms:you will have to be very careful not to tear it when you want to get to the booklet & disc as it is held in place by a couple of blobs of some sort of sticky silicone on either front corner. The booklet has the most detailed descriptions of behind the scenes efforts to make the film on the budget it was given - the converting of a redundant battle ship to become the inside of the space ship etc etc it also has many rare pictures & some that have never been seen by the general public before.
I collect soundtracks & this particular 1 is SO hard to find I have all but given up BUT thankfully they offer an isolated music & effects option although I fear you may have to sit through the entire film again just to hear it - 1 day I will have the patience! lol The extra features are very good with a 50 minute documentary done in 1972 of the Making of + 2 video pieces with Douglas Trumball as well. Altogether a definitive offering of this classic movie - trounces over the DVD presentation - grab your Blu ray copy before they sell out & become too expensive!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2011
This is a film I first saw in the 1970's, it had an incredible effect on me and has stayed with me for many years. I bought the DVD a few years ago but now, at last, we have the definitive Blu-Ray!
The picture quality is sublime, and while the sound is only 2.0, it has been 'dts'd so is the best available, and while the film may be 40 years old, the story still pulls at the heart strings and, I think, is Bruce Dern's best role to date.
You all know the story, but it's the extras which set this apart from any other release of the film. There is a sublime 1972 50 minute making-of documentary that is absolutely fascinating. A short interview with Bruce Dern, very recent, proves his total commitment and love of the film, and a wonderful booklet accompanies the disc, with personal photos from Douglas Trumbell's personal collection.
If you know and love this film, buy this new BR release, you will NOT be disappointed!
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