Soylent Green (1973)

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Released 9-Oct-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Richard Fleischer (Director) And Leigh Taylor-Young (Actor)
Featurette-A Look At The World Of Soylent Green
Featurette-MGM's Tribute To Edward G. Robinson's 101st Film
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 92:49
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Richard Fleischer
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Charlton Heston
Leigh Taylor-Young
Chuck Connors
Cotten. Joseph
Brock Peters
Paula Kelly
Edward G. Robinson
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Spanish
French
German
Italian
Dutch
Portuguese
Icelandic
Norwegian
Swedish
Croatian
Slovenian
Greek
Hungarian
Polish
Turkish
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Set in the near future when the world's population has reached critical mass, Soylent Green is equal part detective story and futuristic adventure. The world depicted in the film is a nightmarish possibility. Overpopulation has forced millions to live on the streets where any food is in short supply. People are forced to live amongst the rotting corpses of starvation victims as they wait for the Soylent company to distribute their weekly supply of Soylent Green, a manufactured food product developed to feed the starving masses. Charlton Heston plays Richard Thorn, a detective assigned to investigate the murder of a high-ranking Soylent Executive. His investigation leads to a shocking discovery that could devastate mankind.

    What separates Soylent Green from any number of apocalyptic future fables are the simple choices made by Director Richard Fleischer. Fleischer grounds his film in detective film noir from the 1940's to tell his tale, an odd choice that serves the film well. Instead of inviting the audience to gawk at improbable futuristic concepts, he decides to tell a slow burning detective story set in a Dystopian futuristic society. This way the audience is able to empathise with Heston as he undertakes his journey of discovery. Sure, there are the occasional 1970's futuristic projections that miss the mark, such as the high societal residential concubines eloquently termed 'Furniture' that reek of the 'free love' era. Thankfully such concepts are few in nature. Instead we have a plausible examination of a possible future that is as timely today as it was in 1973.

    The cast are uniformly excellent with Charlton Heston delivering another well tuned, larger than life performance that deftly combines heroism and moral outrage. Edward G Robinson, in his last film, turns in a genuinely moving performance as Heston's long-time partner and informational resource, Sol Roth. Leigh Taylor Young as Shirl, a residential concubine/'Furniture', brings a real vulnerability to the part that enriches what could have been a two dimensional character.

    Director Fleischer, a veteran genre film maker (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, The Vikings, Fantastic Voyage, The New Centurions and Conan The Destroyer), focuses on character over spectacle. There are occasional shots employing the use of special effects, but they are few and far between. Effects are only utilised to establish a futuristic landscape and are mainly matte painted skylines that present an over-industrialised nightmare of never ending concrete living spaces. Fleischer also delivers several well paced action scenes that include a brutal food riot and climactic gun battle. This all leads to the film's remarkable climax. Simply put, the film's ending is the stuff of genre legend and has been parodied over the years in everything from The Simpsons to Saturday Night Live. As film endings go, it is quite brutal and disturbing, and for me elevates the film to classic status. Soylent Green is a classic Sci-fi film that should be seen by all aficionados of the genre.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Soylent Green has been given a pretty decent transfer, considering the age of the film. It has been presented in its original aspect ratio of 2:35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was notably sharp without any aliasing or edge enhancement problems. Shadow detail was also strong with a great deal of detail present. This was particularly a good thing as the film mostly takes place at night. I did not notice any grain issues or low level noise interference.

    The colour scheme was intentionally muted, and added nicely to the texture of the film. Noteworthy in this respect are the exterior shots. They were filtered through a water tank to add the effect of pollution to the outdoor photography in post production. The reason I mention this is that due to the crude nature of the process, it could be seen by some to be a transfer fault.

    I was pretty surprised to see that the film was mostly devoid of film artefacts. The only noticeable patch of film that was visibly impacted by intrusive film dirt was at the 72 minute mark during the euthanasia segment. During this segment, there were holographic images shown that were noticeably littered with dirt and other film artefacts.

    As stated, this is a great looking transfer for a 30 year old film, Warner Home Video should be proud.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are five audio tracks available on this disc. English, French, German and Spanish language tracks are presented in 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono. There is also a 2 channel audio commentary.

    Dialogue is always clear with not a sign of an audio sync problem.

    The film is mostly bereft of the traditional film score. Instead, composer Fred Myrow opts for unusual sounds and lyrical riffs to carry the film. It all adds to the story nicely.

    Being a mono soundtrack, there are no directional effects or rear channel action at all.

    The subwoofer adds nothing to the audio package.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    A nice collection of selected film score moments.

Audio Commentary

    The commentary is by director Richard Fleischer and actress Leigh Taylor Young and for the most part is a great listen. Fleischer, who is now 87 years old, has a remarkable memory for production detail and brings a wealth of information to the commentary. Young chimes in when her character appears on screen but adds little to the overall commentary.

Featurette - The World Of Soylent Green

    This is a vintage 10 minute documentary that has a number of behind the scenes production shots. Not a bad little feature.

Featurette - A tribute to Edward G. Robinson.

    A bland 4 minute tribute made during the filming of the film. Not very interesting.

Theatrical Trailer

    The film's trailer is in reasonable shape and is presented 16x9.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    All versions of this film are basically the same across regions.

Summary

    Soylent Green is a stark portrayal of a Dystopian future where mankind is on the brink of self destruction. The screenplay, direction and acting are all first rate and the film is highly deserving of the accolades lavished on this seventies sci-fi pot-boiler. The disc has a fine audio visual transfer with some interesting extras. A must see.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Greg Morfoot (if interested here is my bio)
Monday, December 22, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 76cm Widescreen Flatron Television. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony HT-K215. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony HT-K215
Speakers fronts-paradigm titans, centre &rear Sony - radio parts subbie

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