At Amsterdam Comic Con last year I bought quite some DVDs, as usual. Among these were a lot of movies I had never heard of. I made a selection on a lot of different things whether I buy a DVD or not. The actors, the year it’s from, the genre, the cover, the extras. These are all things that I look at. With Soylent Green it was the cover that did it for me. When I saw it was sci-fi movie from 1973 starring Charlton Heston, I was even more interested and decided to buy it. But it was only this week that I gave this movie a go. And boy, I'm glad I did.
Soylent Green takes place in the year 2022 in an overcrowded New York City. It says that it has 44 million inhabitants. So if you live in New York you’d better start reproducing if you want this to be accurate, haha. The world at the time is polluted and natural food is something scarce. Regular food like we know it now, like meat or fruit, is only for the rich. A company called Soylent Industries provides food for the people. This food is made of plankton. It’s called Soylent Green. At the start of the movie, one of the richest and most influential people gets killed. Detective Thorn (played by Charlton Heston) investigates the murder. He does this with the help of his partner Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson). At the apartment of the deceased man also lives a woman called Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young). We find out that a lot of young people work as sort of slaves during this time; well they are actually called “furniture”. The women actually come with the apartment. So if you are rich and you rent an apartment you can get a woman with it if you choose so. But detective Thorn quickly finds out that the rich man that’s been killed was a member of the board of Soylent Industries. Thorn gets deeper into the case and he’s sticking his nose in places he shouldn’t. The murder seems like a big conspiracy and Thorn is determined to find out the horrible truth behind Soylent Industries.
The setting of this movie I think is just great. It isn’t over the top sci-fi-ish with flying cars and laser guns and all that. This movie isn’t really a sci-fi movie at all actually. I think it just gets labeled as this because it takes place in the future. It’s more a thriller/detective kind of movie. The story is very suspenseful and leads to a big reveal. But I won’t spoil any of that, all I really want to talk about it. But I won’t haha. You just have to see it for yourself.
The DVD I have is the Dutch/Belgian release by Living Colour Entertainment, who released some great stuff by the way. The overall sound and picture quality were great, without losing its 70’s charm. Just the way I like it. The DVD also has some extras on it. It has full audio commentary by director Richard Fleischer and Leigh Taylor-Young. A 10-minute documentary called: A look into the world of Soylent Green. This talks about the history of movies depicting futuristic settings. And it shows some behind the scenes footage. Nothing really special, but it’s a nice feature. It also has 5 minutes footage of the tribute to the 101st film of Edward G. Robinson, which is a nice addition to the fans of him. Charlton Heston also gives a short speech about him. And it also has the original theatrical trailer on it.
I think this movie is a must have in any movie collectors library. I can’t believe I had never heard of this movie before. It’s just good to see that with a bit of luck I can still find some hidden gems. And I know there are more out there. Maybe you have some tips for me, what are some of your hidden gems?