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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, September 18, 2014 - Edition No 915 
Reckoning

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SILENT RUNNING: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
One of four astronauts, Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern), is the only ecology-aware crew member of Valley Forge, a vast spaceship carrying Earth's last surviving forests in giant atmosphere-controlled domes. When orders come to destroy the domes, Lowell vows to save the forests by sending them into deep space. Spending the remainder of his mission with a couple of robotic drones as his only companions, this eco-saviour struggles to maintain his sanity in the vastness of space.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull (notable for his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner and Close Encounters of the Third Kind), made his directorial debut with this eco-themed sci-fi classic. Now, 36 later, the theme is even more relevant. The Conservation Pledge, seen on the wall about 56 minutes into the film, seems like a lift from today's debates.

The film also features a round billiard table and a billiard playing robot, Joan Baez singing the theme song, and the precursor of many space movie elements. There is also a wonderful scene of Freeman (Bruce Dern) playing poker with two robots.

Dern is excellent in the role of the almost accidentally committed environmentalist in a film that doesn't labour the point but makes it. You might also want to note some of the branding placements (eg American Airlines, Coca Cola, Dow Chemical...) But where filmmaker Douglas Trumbull really excels is how he manages to convey character in the robot drones using simple movement and camera angles. It's a masterful display that adds texture to the film, extending its impact.

The film's rather sad message is that we humans are not capable of looking after our own habitat; but this is tempered with the notion that we can instruct robots of our creation to do so.

September 25, 2008



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

SILENT RUNNING: DVD (PG)
(US, 1972)

CAST: Bruce Dern, Cliff Potts, Ron Rifkin, Jesse Vint, Mark Persons, Cheryl Sparks

PRODUCER: Douglas Trumbull, Michael Gruskoff

DIRECTOR: Douglas Trumbull

SCRIPT: Deric Washburn, Mike Cimino,Steve Bochco

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Charles F. Wheeler

EDITOR: Aaron Stell

MUSIC: Peter Schickele

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Francisco Lombardo (set decoration)

RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen; mono

SPECIAL FEATURES: Subtitles: English, German, Finnish, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Dutch

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella

DVD RELEASE: August 4, 2008







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