Previously at the ICA - Films

Silent Running, Dir. Douglas Trumbull, 1972

Silent Running

21 Oct 201127 Oct 2011

Mankind has extinguished all animal and plant life on earth. Our remaining forests, vegetation and animal life are preserved in vast ships orbiting above us in space. But when the order is given to abandon them, Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern) can’t bear to carry out his orders. Instead he kills his fellow crew members and takes his precious cargo out into the loneliness of deep space. But nothing is ever quite as simple as it seems.

Hugely influential, Douglas Trumbull’s film can be seen in Duncan Jones’ Moon, TV series Red Dwarf and Pixar’s Wall-E among many others. Its claustrophobic setting and existential musings have made it a durable classic. Trumball was responsible for effects on 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Andromeda Strain and Blade Runner but his greatness is in his interest in how technology interacts with nature. At its heart, Silent Running is about a man given a choice between the lives of his companions and the lives of Earth's last surviving plants, trees and animal life. For him, initially at least, it’s no contest. There are, after all, plenty of people. His problem is that, after a while, he begins to miss them.

Dir. Douglas Trumbull, USA 1972, 89 mins, cert U
Cast. Bruce Dern, Cliff Potts and Ron Rifkin

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