I first heard of Soylent Green when researching my thesis on euthanasia! This 1973 movie gets better and better with age. And more relevant I'm afraid as the 21st century's realities of global warming, overpopulation and the spreading cancer of laws allowing euthanasia slowly spread.
OK, just for those who are new to this movie. It's the year 2022 in new York City. Forty million people live here, crammed in a smog-congested police-state.
Real food is a luxury not many can afford. The common food surrogate is "soylent green", a kind of biscuit, with obvious reference to the vegetarian products of soy and lentils.
Charlton Heston plays a cynical cop who investigates, what looks like an accidental burglary/murder case. The murder victim is a director of the food manufactering plant Soylent Green.
As he progresses he discovers a secret that is at the heart of the life – and death – of this society and it's citizens. And, I tell you, if you haven't seen this film before, Soylent Green, or "Soilent Green" as some people insist (and they're wrong) is enough to put you off your food.
Then again, as the 'normal' fare on the daily news and in today's movies no longer shocks us as we eat our dinner, you'll probably be alright.
It's renewable, biomass energy alright, but is a society that scavenges of its own, no matter how clever it's technology, a truly sustainable one?
As we are nudging a hefty 6 billion people-plus weighing heavily on poor old Mother Earth, water scarcity and pollution, food and energy shortages are a part of our future. Calls for population control are commonly heard in 'green debates', sometimes eerily running parallel to calls for legal abortion, euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide. In the Netherlands being "tired of life" has been accepted in case law as a legitimate ground for allowing requests to be assisted to be "put out of one's misery."
As someone with a significant disability, I sometimes feel directly how easy it is to be seen as disposable, unproductive and 'unworthy of life', as certain 'believers' in Germany put it in the late 1930's to 1945.
Such synchronicities are perhaps among the reasons why so many people are still interested in the Soylent Green movie. I cannot imagine that the quality of acting is the motivator, because it's average. But the story grips us because there's a part of us that feel mesmerized by its potential for realization – way before 2022.
No more natural environment, flowers, trees. No more natural food (is that a real soy-made vegetarian burger in my hand?).
These are prime, and primal, among our realistic fears of our present global warming world. It's why this movie is one you must see, or see again. It's a motivator for a better world than that one.