November 18, 2009

Logan's Run

When I was one year and one month old Logan's Run was released to theaters. Why is that important? It isn't really, but it does place me in time with relation to when this movie was state of the art with groundbreaking effects (which actually won the film an Oscar). I was first introduced to the film sometime during the 1990's, I forget exactly when, but I was fascinated by it. The story was interesting, the characters fascinating, and look, well, distinctly 1970's. However, it has been some years since my last viewing. What does this mean? Simple, I do not recall many details of the film. The closest I have come is noticing similarities in Michael Bay's The Island, which actually more closely resembles another 70's film, Clonus: The Parts Horror.

As I watch Logan's Run now in 2009, the film does appear dated. The opening models to the sparse set design, to any number of things, the look has not aged all that well. On top of that, the story, while interesting and nuanced, seems a lot thinner on the surface than I recall. Still, there is something about that is hypnotic, engrossing, and it is still very easily watchable. The tale is a timeless one, despite the look it brings a lot to the table and is quite easy to relate to. I could easily imagine a situation along these lines coming to fruition in the future. Besides, it is not like they set their future time to be the year 2000, the film is set in 2274, meaning it is still possible for this potential to develop into a reality.

In any case, this future society is set up in a fashion that should be familiar to just about anyone. Everyone wheres the same type of outfits, with colors signifying their place within society and they live in a great domed city. It is quite Utopian and everyone seems to be happy, without a care in the world. The one catch is that once you reach thirty you are required to go to Carousel for something called renewal. Set up something like the Roman Coliseum, the thirty-year-olds enter the arena where they float up into the air where they burst into flames and are gone. The thought is that since there is limited space in the dome, when someone is born, someone must be removed. Renewal symbolizes rebirth as those who burst into flames will come back as a newborn.

The conflict arises from the existence of an underground group of people who question renewal and the need to remain within the city and are guardians . The computerized city security network of the city wishes to discover what this "sanctuary" is and destroy it. To that end... wait, I am getting ahead of myself. Plus, I am not sure just how much I should tell you. I mean, the movie is more than three decades old, but if you have yet to experience it, better be through the unfolding of the plot rather than through my clumsy description.

Before we move on, you should meet a couple of the characters. Our main character is Logan, played by Michael York. Logan is a Sandman, a police-type figure charged with stopping those who attempt to escape Carousel, called runners. Logan is charged with discovering the so-called sanctuary without telling anyone what he is up to. He finds himself with Jessica (Jenny Agutter), whom he believes to be key to attaining his goal. They bring us along on their journey to the outside, allowing us to become a part of their lives for a time.

The cast along with director Michael Anderson do a fine job of presenting a believable world with characters who live and grow over the course of the film. There are a number of interesting levels that come out during the course of the story. There is the personal relationship between Logan and Jessica, between Logan and his Sandman partner Francis, the conflict over what sanctuary was, the thought of living past 30, and so much more. It is a film that does not delve nearly as deeply as it could, yet still offers enough depth to reward multiple viewings and allow the viewer to read more into the tale what they want.

Logan's Run is definitely a movie to be seen. There is something about the balance between ignorance and wonder that it has that makes it a classic. As soon as you press play, you will be drawn into this other world where questioning your surroundings is not a part of the culture. It is like watching someone emerge from a deep sleep where the person is trapped deep within their mind before returning to the real world and the wonders it holds.

Audio/Video. Presented in 2.35:1 widescreen, Logan's Run appears to be the best it has ever looked. Well, the best t has looked since its theatrical bow. That said, it does show its age. There is a good deal of film grain and it is not nearly as picture perfect gorgeous as other disks I have seen, but do not let that get you down. The transfer may have grain and betray its age, but it does not lose any detail, in fact there is enough detail to allow you to see the seams of the effects. It is well worth the trip.

Audio is Dolby Digital TruHD and it is a solid track that represents its source well. Like the video, it does come across as a bit aged, but it is always crisp and clear. The soundtrack sounds quite good and the dialogue is nicely centered.

Extras. There is nothing new here, it brings the meager offerings of past DVDs forward to this new release.
  • Commentary. The track is with star Michael York, director Michael Anderson, and costume designer Bill Thomas. It is quite interesting with each of the three bringing details of the shoot and the production to the table. Although, it appears to be cobbled together from separate interviews, they are clearly not in the same room. I also believe the interviews were recorded sometime in the 1990s.
  • A Look into the 23rd Century. This brief featurette first appeared on the laserdisk and takes a look at the films production and futuristic setting.
  • Trailer. The original clip used to get you in the theater.

Bottomline. It may not be the greatest science fiction film of all time, but it is one that certainly deserves respect. It sits at the line of deep film and popcorn munching fun. It has a large scope and interesting performances that are deceptive in their depth. If you haven't seen it, this is your chance. If you are a fan, this is the best it has ever looked.


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John Rosenfelder said...

i saw the movie as a kid and it was scary. as an adult, i see the mandatory death sentence at 30 as a metaphor for the sixties' vibe of not trusting anyone over 30. it's a brilliant movie with many ethical questions regarding nuclear war and even plastic surgery. there are questions about authority in the plot too.

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