“Like a forest is your child…”

…dangerous and filthy?

SILENT RUNNING, Douglas Trumbull’s sci-fi eco-fable, was sure fun to revisit, though Fiona found the sentimental journey downright painful — she likes the film, but it’s so tied up with childhood memories as to be traumatic. It does seem like the willfully naive narrative works best when you’re a kid, and re-seeing it in adulthood calls for the kind of suspension of grown-up reasoning Cocteau proposes as a prerequisite for viewing LA BELLE ET LA BETE.

My review of the Masters of Cinema Blu-ray is here, care of Electric Sheep. And goddamn it, I *LIKE* the Joan Baez songs, so there.

Buy it — Silent Running (1971) (Masters of Cinema) [Blu-ray]

Silent Running [Masters of Cinema] (LTD Edition Steelbook) [Blu-ray]

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10 Responses to ““Like a forest is your child…””

  1. I saw it at a drive-in theater in Arizona. Outer space looked great against the Arizona skies. Rather melacholy little piece, testifying to Bruce Dern’s remarkable resiliancy as an actor. He’s one of the leads in the new Coppola, Twixt — a 3D neo-horror thiller about which I’ve heard good things.

    If Shadowplay desices to have a Bruce Salute it would encompass everythign from Marnie to Joe Dante’s highly underrated The ‘Burbs.

  2. david wingrove Says:

    Don’t forget his inimitable walk-on as a corpse in HUSH…HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE.

    I saw the first 5 minutes of SILENT RUNNING years ago and was blown away…but have always been afraid to watch the whole film in case I’m disappointed.

    Crazy, I know!

  3. I’d invite you round to view the Blu-ray, David W, but Fiona might not be able to stand further exposure to the deep-space melancholy.

    Dern is a legend, and this is one of his finest roles. Alone onscreen with a couple of robots for most of the movie, he’s a virtual Robinson Crusoe (and it’s a shame THAT role has never, so far as I know, been played by a brilliant natural eccentric).

  4. Saw it on NBC movie of the week back in the seventies. Having a special effects guy direct is kind of like having a stunt man direct a movie. The specialty dictates the style. I remember trying to watch it sometime back and not recalling the use of close-ups and what I would consider to be undramatically lit, bland compositions.

  5. John Seal Says:

    Count me as another person who fell in love with Silent Running at an early age. And as much as I despise Joan Baez (her voice, not her politics), I too enjoy the songs.

    The song(s?) in Sacco and Vanzetti, on the other hand, is/are appalling. (I haven’t seen it in thirty years, so I can’t remember if there’s more than one.)

  6. I *think* SR and S&V are both two-song pictures. Morricone wrote the music for S&V, which is fine, but the songs are pretty dirge-like, a far cry from his pop song heyday.

    Trumbull gets some nice camera movement with the little space buggies and intercutting handheld shots sweeping through the forest. And his central perf from Dern is great. But like a lot of directors, he’s stronger on the extreme stuff than on basic dramatic scenes, and his script often seems uncertain as to what drama actually IS. Admittedly, creating drama with only one character is tough.

  7. Thank you for featuring one of my childhood favourites. I shed a tear a couple of years ago when watching Wall-E with my son for the beautiful resonances with Trumbull’s film. Although I can well up watching a trailer these days (oh Tree of Life, why weren’t you as coherent as your overwhelmingly beautiful trailer?).

  8. I’m glad that Silent Running is getting its dues again – now we just need a similar sprucing up and reissuing of Douglas Trumbell’s other film, Brainstorm:

    (I’ve often wondered whether Kathryn Bigelow saw it before she made Strange Days)

  9. david wingrove Says:

    No movie of the early 70s was complete without some musical eccentric strumming on a guitar and singing…Cat Stevens in HAROLD & MAUDE, Leonard Cohen in McCABE & MRS MILLER, Donovan in BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON. I’m amazed there isn’t a James Bond movie out there with Joni Mitchell singing about peace and love on the soundtrack. Ah, those were the days!

  10. When I was a cynical 12-year-old I found this cloying, but now that I’m a wide-eyed fortysomething I’m sure it would probably reduce me to a sobbing mess. Sadly, the £3.99 bluray I ordered from Amazon turned out to be a clerical error, so it seems we’ll never know.

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