Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Logan's Run

Calling 1976's LOGAN'S RUN a sci-fi classic may be overstating things, but tell that to the legions of forty-somethings who clutch this movie almost as tightly as that outer space opera that came a year later.  I have several movies of my own like that, though oddly I did not see this one when I was a kid.  Not sure why, as this was certainly up my alley.  I'm pretty sure I watched the spin-off T.V. series but it made little impression.

At such a late date, I was expecting a real laugh-fest when I sat down to watch LOGAN"S RUN, but aside from a few giggles I was pretty straight-faced, more involved in the story than wracked with guffaws over campy '70s set design or hair styles.  Which, in fact, the movie does have.  If you're seeking to criticize such details you'll have plenty to keep you occupied.  Starting with that Dallas shopping mall that is used to represent a domed utopia, entirely run by a supercomputer,  in the year 2274. Or the liberal use of miniatures, the best of which involves medium shots of the city, appearing like someone's toys strewn across a living room floor.  Snaking above are plastic tubes with what look like Matchbox cars racing through.

Very cheesy, but endearing, especially if you're old enough to remember when effects like these were considered stellar. But then I think of Douglas Trumbull, who created the truly awe inspiring effects for 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and SILENT RUNNING (which he also directed) years earlier.  What he could've done for LOGAN'S RUN!  It's somewhat frustrating to think about, but for me was a passing concern.  There have been rumors of a long-in-coming remake which undoubtedly will largely feature CGI, which may drain away some of the fun, if you remember the original.

Michael York plays Logan 5,  a "sandman", someone assigned to catch fugitives, or "runners" from said utopia.  Why would anyone attempt to escape a wonderland where hedonism is king, where sex partners can be called up with the ease of ordering a pizza? When a citizen reaches thirty years of age,  he or she is required to enter the "Carousel", a ceremony in which they are levitated toward a spire and vaporized by lasers.  All in front of a cheering audience.  Barbaric? Not with the promise of "renewal", a rebirth.  Runners don't buy this idea and take it on the lam, usually without success.

One of Logan's victims is found wearing an ankh, a symbol from ancient Egypt representing eternal life.  An interesting coincidence that Jessica 6 (Jenny Agutter, fetching as always), a potential bed mate, also wears one. The central computer informs Logan that the ankh is linked with an underground group who guide runners toward "Sanctuary", and then instructs him to become a runner himself and destroy it.  There are several catches, including the removal of four years from Logan's clock.

Thus begins Logan's run, and his discoveries are left to you, invisible audience.  The second hour of the film, while fairly interesting, does bog down a little, especially when Logan and Jessica meet an old man (Peter Ustinov).  But the leisurely pace will allow you to formulate all sorts of interpretation, what the original book's authors were trying to convey.  The most obvious themes are of religions' blueprints for the afterlife, the idea of faith itself.  It can't be an accident that those thirty and over are cast out of a society that prizes youth.  Kinda like, Hollywood?

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