“Soylent Green is people!!!” Yes, it was one of Chartlon Heston’s campiest scenes and has been parodied oh so many times.
Soylent Green debuted in 1973 and the film was set in 2022, which really didn’t appear to be all that far away – even back in the 70s. Of course, it is even closer now.
Because of overpopulation, there is no more middle class, and food is a luxury. Poor people are fed a weird frankenfood called Soylent Green, which look like little green crackers.
Eventually Heston learns the awful truth, that Soylent Green consists of ground up corpses, and he screams that infamous warning before he’s killed off. Now, we’ve certainly come to the point where there’s practically no middle class, and with the recession there’s been those who could survive an economic collapse, and those who can eat sh*t.
But with the timeline in the film now only ten years away, how much of its dystopian future could actually come to pass?
I thought of this question recently because I have a cousin in college who was interested in seeing the movie for a sociology class. Since Soylent Green is such old pop culture sci-fi, could there actually be renewed interest due to certain elements portrayed in the film?
There’s an actual thread about this on IMDB, and as one movie fan writes, “Of all the dystopian movies about the future, this one I think will be the most accurate. Where the masses are poor and only a small percentage of the population have the luxuries most people enjoy due to resource depletion and climate change. We are already witnessing the wealth drain on the middle class, and that will only accelerate in the years to come.”
By nature of the genre, science fiction has to be somewhat prophetic, or at least convince audiences that if something isn’t possible, it could damn well happen. Going back to a review of the film by Variety way back in1973, the publication called the film “somewhat plausible,” as “the depressing nature of the story presents a word of mouth challenge.” I would have loved to found a comment in this review saying, “Oh my God, look what the world’s headed towards,” but there wasn’t one.
Obviously, Soylent Green, similar to sci-fi movies since Day the Earth Stood Still, was trying to send a warning to people. Unfortunately, like The Omega Man, it’s hampered by Heston’s hamminess, which is a lot of fun to watch. Of course, our reality won’t unfold exactly the way it did in the movie, but the salient points Soylent Green made back in the 70’s definitely feel spooky even today.