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Silent Running Blu-ray Review

“Silent Running” is an underrated 70’s sci-fi film.

“Silent Running” is a futuristic sci-fi film in which Earth’s only surviving flora and fauna survives in domes on board several starships in deep space. After the crew of 4 of one of these ships (Valley Forge) is given the order to destroy the greenhouses, one such crew member (a botanist named Freeman Lowell) goes rogue to save one. He ends up killing the other 3 crew members and plays it off as an accident in order to preserve one of the domes. What will he do next? Will a rescue attempt be made to find Lowell?

Directed by visual effects wizard Douglas Trumbull, “Silent Running” is an unusual sci-fi film that feels just as relevant now in this day and age of climate change as it did at the time of its release in 1972. Although the film boasts fantastic model work, physical droid characters, and sets as one would expect from the creative mind of Trumbull (who worked on “2001: A Space Odyssey”), this is more of an introspective eco sci-fi tale about nature, guilt, choices, isolation, and technology. Structurally, the story unfolds in a unique fashion in that virtually everything major happens in the first act while the second and third act deal with Lowell’s internal struggles and decisions. One might say the film is perhaps in need of more of a conflict to bolster the drama, but I applaud the way writers Steven Bochco (yes, the crime drama TV guru), Michael Cimino (best known for “The Deer Hunter”), and Deric Washburn approach the story by making it more of a psychological character study.

On the subject of Lowell, Bruce Dern is at his best here as the deeply flawed character of Lowell. He brings the right amount of desperation, tragedy, heart and regret to the complex role. He also manages to do it all solo for a good chunk of the runtime as he only tends to interact with a radio and robots.

The one element I could do without are the hokey Joan Baez song montages that took me out of the movie. It feels way too 60’s and doesn’t vibe with the tone of the movie even though the lyrics of the songs may be fitting.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? The new 2K restoration provides striking colors all while  maintaining the grain of the original print.

Audio Track: 1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono. How does it sound? Expect a nice crisp Lossless Mono track.

Extras:
* “Silent Running” theatrical trailer
* A booklet with photos, credits, and essays by writer Barry Forshaw and author Peter Tonguette
* Isolated music and effects track
* Separate new interviews with film music historian Jeff Bond,
* A visual essay by Jon Spira about the screenplay of “Silent Running.”
* A 1 hour and 45 minute behind-the-scenes still gallery
* 4 archival extras- a making of featurette, a convo with Bruce Dern, a short interview with Douglas Trumbull, and a half-hour featurette on “Silent Running” with an interview with Trumbull.
* 2 commentary tracks- one by Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw and the other by Douglas Trumbull and Bruce Dern. 2 very different tracks, but both offer different insights. Newman and Forshaw is a talkative film geek track while the Trumbull and Dern track provides information about the making of the project.

January 31, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , ,

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