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Film / Deadly Harvest

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"The beginning of the end came in the late '70s. The climate changes... the energy crisis, the shortages, the high costs of growing and transporting grain, the lack of government support for research programs. The disappearance of arable land beneath the monoliths of reinforced concrete and steel as the urban centers continued their unchecked sprawl into the countryside. The industrial pollution that poisoned the earth, the water, and the air. And the continuing growth of population out of all bounds of reason. More and more people, less and less food. By the end of the '70s, the fabric of society was breaking down in most parts of the world... And then, the bubble burst."
Opening voiceover

Deadly Harvest is a 1977 Canadian sci-fi eco-thriller directed by Timothy Bond and starring Clint Walker, Kim Cattrall, Geraint Wyn Davies, Nehemiah Persoff, David Brown, Jim Henshaw, Dwayne McLean, Tami Tucker, Leslie Carlson, and Cec Linder. The film tells the story of farmer Grant Franklin (Walker), who struggles to keep food on his plate and protect his farm from a gang of cattle-thieving marauders led by Mort Logan (Persoff) against the backdrop of a horrific famine due to catastrophic climate change resulting from overpopulation, industrial pollution, and uncontrolled urban sprawl.

The film is notable mainly for being Clint Walker's final leading role; following its release, he went into semi-retirement, accepting only occasional minor roles in films such as Maverick and Small Soldiers. It is also an early depiction of survivalism in film, comparable thematically to the British novel The Death of Grass and some shades of the film Panic in the Year Zero.

Contains examples of the following tropes:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The opening narration places the events of the film sometime in the then-near future, possibly in the early 1980s. One foreign title gives the date as 1993.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Mort and his gang are defeated, but Grant's wife and would-be son-in-law are still dead, and the future of the world looks uncertain to say the least.
  • Black Market Produce: Mort Logan and his gang roam the countryside stealing what remaining agricultural products they can get their hands on and then sell them on the black market.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: After everything endured by Grant and his family, the film ends with the future of both them and the world in serious question.
  • Construction Vehicle Rampage: During the final confrontation, Grant uses a bulldozer to attack Mort and his men, smashing up the marauders' van as they attempt to escape.
  • Corrupt Politician: After exploring multiple unfeasible options such as building giant hydroponic gardens and switching to an all-seaweed diet, the unnamed Minister of Agriculture decides that the best way to resolve the whole crisis is to claim a temporary supply distribution problem, cut food rations by 50 percent, institute martial law, and create a media blackout so that the ordinary citizens will effectively starve before realizing how serious the situation has become.
  • Crapsack World: A catastrophic worldwide climate change has led to a kind of Endless Winter, resulting in crop failures and famine throughout North America, with less than a month's worth of food supplies remaining by the time of the film's setting. In turn, gangs of marauders roam the countryside slaughtering precious livestock and selling it on the black market, food riots are regularly breaking out in urban areas, and governments have decided that the only solution to the problem is letting their citizens starve.
  • Drone of Dread: The score by John Mills-Cockell consists primarily of droning noises rendered on half-detuned analog synthesizers, similar in feel to the kind of stuff Boards of Canadanote  would later come up with.
  • Endless Winter: Industrial pollution and uncontrolled urban sprawl, among other things, have resulted in a worldwide global cooling, resulting in mass starvation as crops fail and food supplies diminish.
  • Environmental Symbolism: The film uses the bleak Canadian winter with its harsh yellow and brown colour palette to portray the disintegration of both society and the natural environment.
  • Green Aesop: As the opening narration spells out, the environmental catastrophe happened because no one in power did anything to avert or even mitigate the problem until it was too late.
  • How We Got Here: The opening voiceover explains how the climate crisis came to be, listing such causes as overpopulation, unchecked urban sprawl, the energy crisis, industrial pollution, lack of government funding for research programs, and the high cost of transporting grain.
  • Just Before the End: The events of the film begin just as society is beginning to collapse from the effects of the Endless Winter. Towards the end, Grant obtains data from Ennis' computer showing that there is less than a months' worth of food supplies remaining for urban life support in North America.
  • Mexican Standoff: When Mort and his goons return one last time to raid Grant's farm, a final, decisive shootout ensues that also sees the use of farm equipment as weapons.
  • Revenge: While on a drive out from Toronto, Ennis and his father are assaulted by angry farmers who accuse them of stealing and hoarding the remaining food supply, causing the elder Ennis to suffer a fatal heart attack. In retaliation, he provides Mort and his gang with information regarding the whereabouts of Grant's family in exchange for a small supply of food. Grant in turn seeks revenge on Ennis for enabling the deaths of his wife and future son-in-law, and attempts to assault Ennis in his office.
  • Violence Really Is the Answer: After seeing the world collapse around him and enduring the deaths of his wife and future son-in-law at the hands of Mort Logan and his gang, Grant is forced to take matters into his own hands and fight back, leading to a gun battle that also sees the use of farm machinery as weapons.
  • Working-Class Hero: Grant is portrayed as a simple working class man struggling against Corrupt Corporate Executives, organized crime syndicates, and other threats from the upper-class city folk, whom he eventually fights back against.
  • Worst Wedding Ever: Mort Logan and his goons burst into Susan's wedding intending to steal some food, only for a gunfight to suddenly break out, resulting in Grant's wife Leah and Susan's groom being gunned down and killed.