Customer Review

37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthy but inconceivable, 20 Feb 2006
This review is from: Silent Running [DVD] [1972] (DVD)
A fleet of space ships carrying the precious cargo of Earth's plant biodiversity has been sent into space because humans have caused some sort of ecological catastrophe and no vegetation will grow there any more. At the point when the ships are somewhere in the vicinity of Saturn, they receive an order from Earth, not just to abandon the biological cargo stored in the 3 geodesic domes per ship, but to jettison and then nuke the domes and then return home. It's not clear why they had to be sent so far from Earth, why the plants couldn't have been housed in geodesic domes on Earth (since humanity is still apparently able to live there), why it was necessary to blow the domes up in addition to abandoning them or how it was possible for human life to continue on Earth in the absence of any vegetation. The crews of the ships are all eager to follow the orders and return. All except for Lowell, who is the only person in the entire crew with any sense of mission. He cares about everything but himself. The rest of the crew care about nothing but themselves. He's obviously going to have to do something drastic if any of Earth's riches are to survive. It's not at all clear how the whole crew of this space armada (apart from Lowell) could have been recruited to do a really important job that none of them care in the slightest about. Even though none of this made any sense to me whatsoever, I was still drawn in. I identified with Lowell, knew what he would have to do long before the insane order to destroy the cargo was received, shared his hopes and sorrows. Daft really. The little drones: 1, 2 and 3 he named Huey, Dewey and Lewey, even though Lewey had already been lost in space before the naming. I tired to work out why these little fellas were so endearing. They didn't even speak. They moved a bit like human toddlers. The thing was, Lowell cared about them, sympathised with them, treated them as people. Everything mattered to him. Whereas he cared about the plants and animals in his forest dome, jungle dome and desert dome, the other crew didn't care about any of it.
There's an emphatic message in the film. The scenario painted by the film is pretty incoherent but the exaggerated mindlessness of all the crew except for the one rational individual, shouted the message loud and clear so the nonsensical situation couldn't drown it out: "Some things, like our ecological environment, are vitally important and too many of us are too self-obsessed to see or care what is happening or indeed do anything to ensure that the worst doesn't happen. One person alone can't save the world in opposition to an uncaring society. It takes planning, co-operation and commitment to preserve and heal a damaged environment." Well, that's what it said to me anyway. I would have enjoyed it more if the actual story had made more sense though.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Nov 2009 11:09:59 GMT
MarshMan says:
Oh, Sally-Anne, you've spoiled it for me now! I saw this film at the cinema many years ago and it has always been in my mind, fondly remembered as a fine and beautiful thing. Now you have incisively pointed out the ridiculous inconsistencies in the plot, I think less of it. No, don't look like that! It's me not you! :-) I should have seen through it, being the critical, picky sort that I am. Just shows that for me, the meaning and beauty of it overcame the silliness.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Nov 2013 14:20:59 GMT
Persona says:
I totally agree - The whole concept is at best naive & full of implausibilities - It's whole logic is wrong - Having said that I still think it's a Sci-Fi classic & not to be missed - You have to remember that it is of it's time & if you accept it's strengths you must admit it's weaknesses - I totally recommend this film to anyone who has not seen it before - Just be aware that it isn't perfect -
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