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Dystopian views of the future have been around almost as long as science fiction literature, with the percentage of perfect vs nightmare times yet to come running about even. Some features that the dystopian societies often share are a dehumanization of the populace, accompanied by an over-reliance on mechanical servants, a suppression of emotions, and an attitude towards adult intimacy that separates both the emotive and procreation aspects from the act. People become docile sheep, and a central government or machine runs all facets of their lives, keeping them content, ignorant and apathetic. Overpopulation and nefarious doings by who’s/what’s in charge also tend to be underlying themes, with the society finally being broken open, or at least some members saved, through the actions of a small number - sometimes even as small a number as one - of insurgents who shed light upon the grey tones of joyless life.
Logan’s Run, released in 1976, coupled these dystopian themes with the popular baby-boomer saying, “Never trust anyone over 30." It posited a post-apocalyptic world where the remains of humanity live inside domes that shield them from the outside world. In this stagnant society, progeny are raised in nurseries, with neither parents nor child knowing one another; sex is considered just another form of amusement on the lines of film or TV; and overpopulation is a serious concern to the computers who run this hermetically-sealed metropolis. The machines’ solution is to establish a law requiring all citizens to participate in a ceremony called Carousel come their 30th birthdays (although in the novel on which the film was based, the magic age was 21). Carousel, in turn, purportedly leads these boomer-ostracized about-to-be senior citizens to Renewal, where they will be reborn and live another compliant, aimless life. This version of reality is perpetuated by the fact that everyone shares about 12 names, and there’s just a number appended on the end to indicate how many times the soul in question has been “renewed”. Not a bad marketing tack for sequels to take, now that I come to think on it; they've already got the number thing down pat.
But I digress.
As is usually the case in these types of bleak-future films, most of the populace doesn’t know that there’s a catch to Renewal. The jubilant 30-year-olds being drawn ceiling-ward in dramatic fashion during Carousel, exploding in a shower of lights as they are ostensibly “renewed”, are really just being killed outright, and the little naming artifice is yet another way for the computers to keep the sheep following along with the plan. The computers also keep the bland humans in step with the program by implanting a chip in their right hands at birth, which glows green most of their lives. When they reach 29½, the chip starts to flash red, and when that magic 30th birthday arrives, the chip glows solid red, and off to Carousel you march. Then again, maybe the computers realize their human pets can’t count to 30, and thus need a reminder to skip merrily off to their demise.
A few of the populace, however, get wise to the fact that Soylent Green is people, as it were, and try to high-tail it out of the city come their 30th birthdays. Naturally, the computers have considered this possibility (otherwise, this movie would be about 15 mintues long), and have created an elite police force called Sandmen to pursue and retrieve the runners (apparently the computers used up all their creativity for the day naming the Sandmen, because the runners are called just that), bringing them back from however close to the city limits they've gotten - none ever seem to make it out of the domed metropolis - to be put to death. Except runners don't get the ceremony and the cool light show. And even if none of you have seen the film, you likely know what’s coming next: One of the Sandmen, the titular Logan, meets and falls for a lovely young woman who belongs to a cult that doesn't believe in Carousel or Renewal, but instead tells of a legendary place outside the city walls called Sanctuary, where there's trees and grass and other plant life, families live together, and people get really, really old. Like 40 or something. And when his time comes, Logan and his paramour try to escape the city and find Sanctuary whilst being chased by the Sandman's former best friend and fellow enforcer.
Logan’s Run was pretty popular when it was released, and the effects were fairly state-of-the-art for the time, so it makes sense that Hollywood, which has become the ultimate recycler of late, has slated Logan’s Run for a remake. Remakes seem to engender extreme responses in a sizable portion of the moviegoing public, with some believing them to be abominations before God and man that should never see the light of day, and others believing that every film ever done should be remade, no matter how perfect the original or how superfluous said remake would necessarily be. I don’t fall into either camp; I’ve found some remakes that were good, and others that were a good waste of celluloid. I think Logan’s Run has a chance of falling into that former category, if for no other reason than special effects have taken such a quantum leap that Carousel will be spectacular. But more importantly, beneath all the science-fiction trappings and gee-whiz effects, Logan’s Run focused on human stories and human feelings, the same feelings that always make for compelling entertainment: love, friendship, betrayal, curiosity, discovery, bravery. If the remake focuses at least as much on telling those human tales as it does on the latest film magic from ILM, then it will certainly make for a worthwhile trip to the theatre. I, for one, look hopefully forward to it. (Stephanie Star Smith/BOP)
Comparison films for Logan's Run
|Planet of the Apes
|Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines