Soylent Green

Starring: Charlton Heston, Leigh Taylor-Young, Joseph Cotten, Brock Peters and Edward G. Robinson
Warner Home Video
RRP 12.99
Certificate: 15
Available now

It's 2022 and the population of New York City has reached 40 million people, half of whom are unemployed. The air is full of smog and the Sun beats down at 90 degrees. Overpopulation and the destruction of the environment have destroyed the world and food is running out - a jar of strawberry jam costs $150 - and so the government has taken to handing out rations of food made by the Soylent Corporation: Soylent Yellow, Soylent Red and its newest product, Soylent Green. Food riots and random killings are commonplace but when police officer Thorn (Charlton Heston) starts to investigate the murder of a senior Soylent executive he discovers far more than he'd ever have believed possible...

Heston is hardly the world's most sympathetic actor which rather mars Thorn's personal voyage from ignorance to knowledge. He looks tough and rugged in amongst the riots but as soon as he starts to understand the true nature of his world he appears wooden and inflexible which undermines pretty much all the potential for the film to develop an emotional base. To make matters worse, Soylent Green's ambiguous politics can leave a nasty taste in the mouth. The book upon which it was based, Harry Harrison's Make Room, Make Room, is a troubled liberal parable about pollution and politics, the movie, however, appears at times to be a paean to dictatorial control.

Nonetheless, Soylent Green has its moments. The sight of dumper trucks scooping up people from the street remains impressive and unsettling but unfortunately nowhere near as unsettling as much of Heston's performance. Why was this man ever regarded as a good actor?

Anthony Clark

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