Silent Running

Silent Running

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The crew aboard the spaceship Valley Forge can’t keep off Lowell Freeman’s grass. Lowell (Bruce Dern) should be smoking it, not growing it inside the ship’s biospheres. Lowell is a hippie so it’s natural that he’s a little too connected to Mother Earth’s trees. It’s on the Valley Forge that Lowell tends to the “last forests of our once beautiful nation, in the hope that they will one day return and grace our foul earth.” When his three cocky space companions are inexplicably ordered to nuke the forests, Lowell fights back, strangling one crewmember and jettisoning two others into outer space aboard a biosphere. As he listlessly sails the Valley Forge into the rings of Saturn, Lowell kills time via card games with the ship’s robot drones, affectionately renamed Huey and Dewey by the bored Lowell. (Louie lost his leg on a reconnaissance mission and is now floating in outer space.) Lowell nourishes what remains of his wilting forest, chooses suicide for himself and a broken Huey and leaves Dewey to play gardener aboard the remaining biosphere. The hippie songs by Joan Baez are a hoot yet they’re indicative of the film’s otherwise simple-minded, preposterous obsession with environmental carelessness. While the drones are still cuter than Ewoks, Lowell remains a cloying representation of a ‘70s acid freak shoving his save-the-trees mantra down your throat. Silent Running definitely shows its age.

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DVD
Distributor
Universal Pictures
Runtime
89 min
Rating
G
Year
1971
Director
Douglas Trumbull
Screenwriter
Steven Bochco, Michael Cimino, Deric Washburn
Cast
Bruce Dern, Cliff Potts, Ron Rifkin, Jesse Vint, Roy Engel