By: Bryant Daniels
In 1976 director Michael Anderson released what Roger Ebert would call a “vast, silly extravaganza” while The New York Times exclaimed the same film to be “less interested in logic than in gadgets and spectacle”, that divisive film was Logan’s Run, and 36 years later it continues to split audiences and critics alike. Currently the average user rating for this colorful sci-fi epic is 3.3/5 on Rotten Tomatoes, and holds an average of 4/5 on Amazon, which means nothing when the majority of the Twilight films hold an average of 4/5. Seriously Amazon, please allow me to start adding specified ratings using the ever fleeing decimal system! I mean, if I want to rate Superman III a 4.9/5 because I like Richard Pryor movies and have decided in a drunken rage that it was Richard Pryor’s third best performance, then that’s what I want to do. Sorry, back to the review.
So, what is Logan’s Run, a classic, or a seriously flawed science fiction attempt that should be a lesson to all children to watch nothing with “serious” special effects pre-1977 (Nerd Cheer for SW)? After letting LR digest for 24 hours, my internal gauge is swaying towards a necessary, anti-establishment sci-fi viewing experience. Granted, the special effects are pre-Star Wars (see above joke), so the majority of the time I was filled with a mix of childlike glee as I viewed the effects with 21st century eyes. You see, I have a special fondness for exuberant colors and sparklers substituting for laser blasts, and the first 45 – 60 minutes of this movie were a magnificent play land in my eyes. I put this precursor in here because of one steadfast rule, if you’re going to make a recommendation for people to see a film, and you know there is a barrier, advise of the barrier and then blow that barrier away by detecting the intricacies that make the film great.
Logan’s Run is about a dystopian future in which society is trapped inside a series of inter-connected domes and no one lives past the age of thirty. It is not that disease or famine causes a shortened life span, in fact all of the members of this futuristic society appear to be Adonis like Greek gods and are by all means living inside of a manufactured paradise. No, the reason no one lives past thirty is that somewhere in this societies past, someone decided that if life was purposely shortened by government then people would be too busy living it up to be concerned with such trivial pursuits as war, politics, or questioning their leaders. So, what happens when you hit thirty? Simple, you are placed into Carousel where you are either incinerated or you have the chance of being Renewed (Hint – no one ever gets renewed, ever). So, naturally, someone occasionally questions whether or not this is right, or decides life is way too awesome to die at thirty and runs. This is where our hero comes in, Logan (Michael York), he is a Sandman and his job is to catch and execute runners. So, when he’s assigned to find “Sanctuary” (a safety zone for runners), the head honcho computer with an attitude adds four years to his lifelock (the device for tracking citizens life lines) and says, “go get em boy”. Naturally through the course of proceeding events Logan decides that his society is ape shit crazy and that people deserve the opportunity to live and gain experience naturally, hence the title, Logan’s Run. If you want a more descriptive plot visit Wikipedia, or watch the movie for the reasons I am about to unfold.
So, you’re saying Bryant, why the hell should we watch a silly sci-fi movie from the 70’s? Because it is highly intelligent, extremely relevant, and LR should be necessary viewing for anyone who decides that politicians and computers are trustworthy. There are some magnificent points to be extracted from Michael Anderson’s classic. Being a dystopian film, there is the 1970’s rebellious message of do not trust anyone in authority, especially those who smile at you and tell you everything is going to be okay. The smiling in particular is a slight nuance of the film that deserves film theory analysis. These Sandman bastards are consistently smiling, even during the chase, well, especially in the chase. This is representative of modern society as politicians are willing to smile during well crafted speeches, but in the dark seedy alleys of Washington we know there are secret deals occurring and Supreme Court judgments are being purchased with trades of prostitutes and cocaine, and the majority of these deals are in the name of career preservation. I guarantee you that citizens will end up getting the shit end of the stick. Sorry, I felt my anti-establishment, jean jacket wearing, high school self coming back in that rant, excuse me, I have to go listen to some Bruce Springsteen or Judas Priest.
Along with other anti-establishment messages are the criticisms about modern society. The majority of the citizens of this dome are sheep and living gloriously in a hedonistic lifestyle awaiting death, or “last day” as it’s titled. It’s befitting, and the sad thing is that this was filmed 36 years ago, and people are just getting worse. Sure, you have your laptop, your cell phone, your iPad, your bag of McDonald’s, and you may be happy with that, but LR may say otherwise. What has this immediacy of virtually anything really done for you? Has reading the latest movie news made you a more intelligent and productive citizen, or are you too busy trying to distract yourself from what’s really going on that you forgot to look around occasionally and wonder, what’s here that I’m not seeing? There is truth to be found in knowledge, but the only truths to be discovered are in utilization of knowledge, and I’m not talking about learning how to torrent so you can download Deadpool.
Along with a strong anti-establishment message, there is also religion being called in to question. The idea of being renewed may be a discussion on eastern religions belief in reincarnation, and these beliefs are immediately called into question when it is soon discovered that no one is ever renewed in this society. Do we even deserve to be renewed for silently giving into the culture that surrounds us without ever striving to improve our environment? In conjunction with this is the question of whether Sanctuary actually exists. I see this as the filmmaker working through his own beliefs in the afterlife. As we have two characters discussing whether or not Sanctuary exists, and one character deciding that it is a pretty lie people tell themselves because they would prefer it to exist. Seems like an obvious allusion to heaven, whatever side you may fall on, this is a debate that penetrates daily life.
So, why should you see it? It’s a subversive and intelligent sci-fi film with relevant and universal questions. Also, there are a lot of pretty colors and people melt when they are shot. Either way, it comes as a high recommendation.
Logan’s Run – 1976
Starring: Michael York, Richard Jordan, Jenny Agutter, Roscoe Lee Brown, and Farrah Fawcett.
Directed By: Michael Anderson
Run Time: 119 MinutesShare: