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Silent Running (1972) - Douglas Trumbull

Related: film - Bruce Dern - film in the 1970s - American cinema - science fiction in film - 1972

Silent Running (1972) - Douglas Trumbull [Amazon.com]

Silent Running (1972) - Douglas Trumbull [Amazon.com]


Silent Running (1972)
Silent Running is a science fiction movie made in 1972, directed by Douglas Trumbull and starring Bruce Dern as the protagonist Freeman Lowell. It was made with a very limited budget but has since achieved a cult following.

The movie depicts a dystopian future, in which all plant life on Earth is extinct and only a few specimens have been preserved in greenhouse-like domes attached to a fleet of three American Airlines "Space Freighters" positioned just outside of the orbit of Mars. Lowell, a crew member aboard one of these ships, the "Valley Forge," is in constant disagreement with his other, human crewmates, who are anxious to return to a bleak and deforested yet familiar Earth. However, Lowell does have a better relationship with humanlike drones who are also aboard the ships.

The science and technology depicted in Silent Running are not always plausible, and Trumbull's special effects are low quality even by the standards of the time (he had a larger budget in his later film Blade Runner), but the melancholy message is powerful.

The soundtrack songs are performed by Joan Baez and the film score was composed by Peter Schickele. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Running [May 2005]

Amazon review:
After creating many of the innovative special effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey, Douglas Trumbull tried his hand at directing, and 1971's Silent Running marked an impressive debut. (In addition to creating the visual effects for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and directing 1983's Brainstorm, Trumbull later turned to the creation of high-tech cinematic amusement park rides.) One of the best science fiction films of the 1970s, Silent Running stars Bruce Dern as Freeman Lowell, a nature-loving crewmember aboard the Valley Forge, a gigantic spaceship in a small fleet that carries the last surviving forests of the Earth, which has fallen victim to overpopulation and ecological neglect.

Freeman's name reflects his nonconformist philosophy, which runs counter to the prevailing recklessness of his three ill-fated crewmates, who are eager to jettison their precious payload and return to the bleakness of Earth. Before they can sabotage the forests, Freeman does what he must, and spends the remainder of his mission with three robotic "drones" as his only companions, struggling to maintain his sanity in the vastness of space. Dern is superb in this memorable role, representing the lost soul of humankind as well as the back-to-nature youth movement of the 1960s and the pre-Watergate era. (Appropriately, Joan Baez sings the film's theme song.) A rare science fiction film that combines bold adventure with passionate social conscience, Silent Running will remain relevant as long as the Earth is threatened by the ravages of human carelessness. --Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com

Douglas Trumbull (1942 - )
Douglas Trumbull (born 1942) is a film director and special effects supervisor.

Trumbull's early work with NASA and the science film maker Con Pederson caught the attention of Stanley Kubrick who employed him to work on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Trumbull's outstanding contribution to the film was the stargate sequence which used a revolutionary camera design (see Slit-scan photography).

In 1971, Trumbull directed the film Silent Running which utilised a number of unused special effects techniques developed for 2001. Silent Running was a critical success, but a flop at the box office due to poor advertising. During the rest of the early 1970s, Trumbull worked on a number of film projects that failed to get backing.

In 1975 Trumbull turned down the offer to provide the effects for Star Wars but in 1978 contributed effects to Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In 1981 Trumbull directed the special effects for the film Blade Runner.

In 1983 Trumbull finally got to direct a second major film, Brainstorm. The film was a showcase for a new film projection system called "Showscan", but the film was overshadowed by the death of Natalie Wood during production . Since that time, Trumbull has concentrated on developing technology for the exhibition industry and theme-park rides.

Trumbull today is held in reverence as a pioneer of the optical and digital effects industry. He has been nominated for Academy Awards on five occasions and has received a life-time achievement Oscar. The majority of the completed cinema projects that Trumbull has been associated with have come to be recognised as classics, gaining audiences over time. His most conspicuous cinematic flop, Brainstorm, predicts the fascination of virtual reality while Silent Running reflected the emerging ecology movement of the early 1970s, and is today regarded as a science fiction classic. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Trumbull [May 2005]

Joan Baez
Joan Chandos BŠez (born January 9, 1941 in Staten Island, New York) is an American folk singer and songwriter, known for her distinctive vocal style as well as her outspoken political views. Her family was Quaker, and her father Albert Baez, a physicist, refused lucrative war industry jobs, probably influencing Joan's political activism in the American and international civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960's to the present. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Baez [May 2005]

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