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Film: Silent Running
Running Silent in my sleep

Silent Running is an environmentally-themed Science Fiction Movie from 1972 directed by Douglas Trumbull and starring Bruce Dern.

In the future, the environment of Earth has been destroyed, with the only plant and animal life left being preserved in domed forests aboard American Airlines space freighters in orbit around Saturn. Freeman Lowell, a botanist and apparently the only remaining environmentalist in the world, tends to the forests religiously and hopes that they can one day be returned to Earth and used to restore it to its natural state. When the decision to reassign the freighters and destroy the domes is made, Freeman becomes obsessed with protecting them. He kills his crewmates and escapes with the last dome, assisted by three robot drones he names Huey, Dewey, and Louie. He must then escape discovery and survive a collision with Saturn's rings.

A well-known favourite of BBC film critic Mark Kermode, who thinks it's a better movie than 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Not to be confused with the Mike And The Mechanics song of the same name, nor the trope Silent Running Mode.

This film provides examples of:

  • Artistic License - Biology: Put simply, humanity cannot survive without the environment. The scenario of the film is blatantly impossible; if we wiped out the entire environment, we'd go with it.
  • Cute Machines: Huey, Dewey, and Louie.
    • Which ironically were played by double amputees.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Freeman dies, and the last dome is lost in space. Though the last drone is tending to it, and the forest within is alive.
  • Explosions in Space: A relatively accurate depiction — nuclear explosions in space are just silent circular flashes that fade away.
  • Green Aesop: Somewhat Anvilicious; but (especially at the time the film was made) Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped.
  • Idiot Ball: Lowell has been taking care of the plants for years, then near the end of the film when he's on the wrong side of Saturn, comes to suddenly realize the reason they're dying is they need sunlight.
  • Latex Space Suit
  • Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: For the most part, falls under One Big Lie—or rather, One Small Fib. The softest part of the movie is the unremarked-upon Artificial Gravity.
  • Product Placement: American Airlines will last for centuries apparently.
  • Terra Deforming: The government policy that leads to the events of the film.
  • What Could Have Been: In the original version of the story, Freeman was an old man who rebelled not to save the forests but because he didn't want to be sent back to Earth. Also, he attempts to make First Contact with aliens.

Slaughterhouse-FiveHugo AwardSoylent Green
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Red PlanetScience Fiction FilmsSolaris (1972)

alternative title(s): Silent Running
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