“SILENT RUNNING”— In the Not-So-Distant Future

“SILENT RUNNING”

In the Not-So-Distant Future

Amos Lassen

 In the not-so-distant future, Earth has no flora and fauna; there are just ecosystems preserved aboard a fleet of greenhouses that orbit in space. When the crews are ordered to destroy the remaining specimens, one botanist, Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern), rebels and goes in the direction of Saturn in a desperate bid to preserve his little piece of Earth. He is alone aside from three service robots. “Silent Running” is a haunting sci-fi film that seems more relevant than it was when it was released in 1972.  

In 1972, worrying about the environment wasn’t the sign of responsibility and sophistication that it has now become. Although scientists already suspected that global warming was taking place and knew that serious damage was being caused by pollution, ordinary people didn’t take this very seriously. The notion of an Earth with no surviving plant life was thought of as science fiction. Yet, “Silent Running” presents such a scenario. The only remaining plants are tended in huge biodomes attached to spaceships in the orbit of Saturn. When the government wants to recall those ships for commercial service, the domes come under threat.

“Silent Running” combines this with a very human story. Freeman is an ecologist who has devoted his whole working life to caring for the domes. Not only does he have a completely different philosophy about the importance of the plants from anyone else but he is emotionally attached to their welfare, and his desperation to save them leads him to do terrible things. He seems obsessed and is very  aware of the terrible moral dilemma he faces.

The film is interesting as a curiosity as well as an important reminder of early warnings that were ignored. Director Douglas Trumbull placed the weight of the film on Dern who isthe only man in sight during most of the picture. His only companions are Huey, Louie, and Dewey. He is a basically uncomplicated man faced with an awesome, but uncomplicated, situation. Given a choice between the lives of his companions and the lives of Earth’s last surviving trees and fruit, he opts for the growing things.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative, approved by director Douglas Trumbull and produced by Arrow Video exclusively for this release

  High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation

  Original lossless mono audio

  Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

  Brand new audio commentary by critics Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw

  Original audio commentary by Douglas Trumbull and actor Bruce Dern

  Isolated music and effects track

  No Turning Back, a new interview with film music historian Jeff Bond on the film s score

  First Run, a new visual essay by writer and filmmaker Jon Spira exploring the evolution of Silent Running s screenplay

  The Making of Silent Running, an archival 1972 on-set documentary

  Silent Running by Douglas Trumbull and Douglas Trumbull: Then and Now, two archival interviews with the film s director

  A Conversation with Bruce Dern, an archival interview with the film s lead actor

  Theatrical trailer

  Extensive behind-the-scenes gallery

  Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Arik Roper

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Barry Forshaw and Peter Tonguette