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Silent Running
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Product Description

A renegade botanist kills his space-station shipmates to save his garden of earthly vegetation. Studio: Uni Dist Corp. (mca) Release Date: 10/07/2003 Starring: Bruce Dern Steve Brown Run time: 89 minutes Rating: G Director: Douglas Trumbull

After creating many of the innovative special effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey, Douglas Trumbull tried his hand at directing, and 1971's Silent Running marked an impressive debut. (In addition to creating the visual effects for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and directing 1983's Brainstorm, Trumbull later turned to the creation of high-tech cinematic amusement park rides.) One of the best science fiction films of the 1970s, Silent Running stars Bruce Dern as Freeman Lowell, a nature-loving crewmember aboard the Valley Forge, a gigantic spaceship in a small fleet that carries the last surviving forests of the Earth, which has fallen victim to overpopulation and ecological neglect.

Freeman's name reflects his nonconformist philosophy, which runs counter to the prevailing recklessness of his three ill-fated crewmates, who are eager to jettison their precious payload and return to the bleakness of Earth. Before they can sabotage the forests, Freeman does what he must, and spends the remainder of his mission with three robotic "drones" as his only companions, struggling to maintain his sanity in the vastness of space. Dern is superb in this memorable role, representing the lost soul of humankind as well as the back-to-nature youth movement of the 1960s and the pre-Watergate era. (Appropriately, Joan Baez sings the film's theme song.) A rare science fiction film that combines bold adventure with passionate social conscience, Silent Running will remain relevant as long as the Earth is threatened by the ravages of human carelessness. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • GREEN SPACE PEACE
    I remember this film ,"silent running", when at 80's years the spanish TV emited at the morning into on rare program about the preservetion of the primitives americans villages: apaches, arapahoes ,etc. It's curiosly because when i was finished to see the film ,the paralelism was powerful...and now at the 2006 the theme ,the messege of the film, is the same : the preservation of ours nature's recurses is vital for the human supervivence.

    It's very paradoxal as the protagonist (Bruce Derm)in reality is a killer, but in these conditions ,for the public, he isn't!!.
    Why?...yours comrades became a monsters ,the microweathers sections of the navy don't have any importance for them, and the last the authentic real human in the movie will be the little robots!!

    It`s a great film now in a wide screen and good extras DVD!!...more info
  • Silent Running
    This is a little cheesey but, the movie is a classic. It's a rather touching movie if you focus on the plot....more info
  • Great Movie but loose he Baez soundtrack
    I saw this movie when it came out in the theater. Yes I'm that old. The story has stayed with me all that time and the message is clear and true. If we don't take care of this planet we may very well distroy the ecological ability for it to support OUR lives.

    The sound track with Joan Baez was the only real distracting thing in the film. When she stared to warble away, I couldn't wait until she shut up and we got back to the film.

    Story - Very Good
    Acting - Good
    Sound Track - Awful...more info
  • Flawed by having almost no story
    If SILENT RUNNING were literature instead of a film, it would be accused of being a short short story masquerading as a novel. Its greatest claim to fame is having been made by 2001 special effects guru Douglas Trumbull. And there is no question that this is visually the most interesting SF film between 2001 and STAR WARS. Like 2001 it was a SF film that was not intended to go directly to a drive in double bill. It was intended to be taken seriously.

    There is no question that this is a film with good intentions and it was certainly made with great attention. And Huey, Dewey, and the posthumously named Louie are among the most beloved and fondly remembered movie robots (I suppose most people know that the robots were performed by multiple amputee humans). But the brute fact is that there simply isn't much of a story. And what little story there is, is pretty danged bleak. It is surprising that there is so little in the way of interesting story -- well, heck, that there is so little story at all, interesting or otherwise. This was a talented trio of writers. Michael Cimono and Deric Washburn would later win an Oscar for DEER HUNTER, while Steve Bocho would reinvent television with HILL STREET BLUES and other projects.

    In the end, SILENT RUNNING ends up being a visually less interesting distillation of the duller parts of 2001. I will add that Bruce Dern is very good in what is essentially the only role in the movie (though I was amazed to see that I literally couldn't recognize Ron Rifkin in his small role). I suppose students of SF should see it because of its "classic" status, but to be honest, it is not a terribly interesting film....more info
  • Over the top hilarity or serious environmental masterpiece?
    This is such a bizarre movie. I find it alternatively touching, poignant, annoying and ridiculously funny depending on how I look at it. First of all, the plot has so many holes you could drive a tank through them. Let's see, somehow all the forests on Earth were destroyed and a decision was made to save them by planting huge tracts of forests in gigantic geodesic domes mounted on spacecraft out around Saturn. Eight years later they decide to destroy all the domes with nuclear bombs and bring the ships back to Earth. Forget about the insane amount of money and effort it would take to set this up in the first place, forget about leaving the forests in their domes under the care of drones, let's blow them up. The whole plot makes no sense.

    But it's as an un-intentional parody of an environmental fanatic that Bruce Dern, as Freeman Lowell, really shines in this movie. Start out with the sacharine sweet scene of 'ol martyr Lowell in white robes hoeing his garden and feeding Mr. Friendly rabbit to the strains of a Joan Baez tune to open the movie and you know all you need to know about where this flick is going. Gee, does it have a message?

    And I dare anyone not to laugh after watching sanctimoniuos Lowell arguing with his shipmates, then stalking off to one of the domes in a huff in his white robe and, get this, when he gets there, he raises his hand and an eagle lands on it. I horked soda out of my nose on that scene, it was so unbelievably funny.

    Yet somehow Bruce as Lowell also portrays the selfish environmental movement perfectly. Lowell kills his shipmates to save the trees. Rich Western environmentalists discover that DDT if used indiscriminately is bad for birds and ban it in all it's uses, thus consigning millions upon millions of poor Africans and Asians to horrible death by malaria over the next 40 years. Millions of dead people, but at least rich environmentalists can go on eco-tours and see all the pretty plumage on the parrots. Yeah, there's a message there.

    And when good 'ol Lowell flees and can't figure out why his forest is dying, it's almost too good to be true. Showing the bone-headedness of a truly committed environmentalist, he can't figure out that running away from the sun means less light, and less light means dead plants.

    To it's credit, there are some cool things about this movie. The set, the special effects (in 1971 no less) and the drones are totally cool. If you can forget the heavy-handed "message", the middle of the movie is pretty good, especially Lowell's reprogramming of the drones to save his sanity and the ship after running through Saturn's rings.

    And it ends well, sort of. Lowell blows himself up, martyr to the end, rather than going back to Earth, and the last geodesic dome slides off into space with it's forest under the care of one of the drones. So at least somewhere out there, Mr, Friendly Rabbit still eats Lowell's crops to the strains of sanctimonious Joan Baez tunes....more info
  • Classic SciFi tale revealing the inside of man's mind
    It's many years in the future. Though the earth maintains a constant 75 degrees there are no forests left. The only place to find a forest is in space, in bio-domes attached to spaceships protecting them. After six months into this experimental effort to save the forests, the Valley Forge and her sister ships are ordered to abandon and nuclear-destruct the forests, then return the spaceships to commercial service. Aboard the Valley Forge is botanist Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern - a very young Bruce Dern) who is the only member of the four-man crew who actually cares for the forests. (He's portrayed very "hippie-ish", including wearing long canvas-type robes and longer hair than the other men) Lowell doesn't just care for the forests, he defends them and lives for them.

    With orders received, when the men begin to nuclear-destruct the bio-domes, Lowell goes a little off the edge in defending his forests, and winds out killing all his crewmates. He then steers the spaceship towards an outer ring of Saturn, where the other ships can't follow. Now he's alone with his three (adorable) robots, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. (Louie is accidentally lost during the storm of Saturn's ring) With no more human contact, Lowell's glitchy behavior slowly descends into madness.

    It's this major part of the film that intrigues me so. Lowell's decay is slow, but with pointedly increasing markers leading his way to full insanity. The ending is surprising but appropriate. It's said to be difficult for an actor to single handedly carry a show, but Dern manages quite impressively. The special effects are of course a bit cheesy, but while the robots are not high-tech they certainly are adorable and fill their roles in the plot nicely. Unfortunately, there are also a couple of very cheesy Joan Baez "nature" songs in the movie, you'll want to plug your ears or hit mute for those, unless you actually like the 70's "hippie-pop".

    'Silent Running' is a must-see Classic SciFi film, even if it's somewhat outdated. It's not the best movie you'll ever watch but if you're a lover of SciFi you should treat yourself to some of the breakthroughs made in the SciFi film industry, 'Silent Running' being a part of that phenomenon. It's also a highly interesting study of the human condition, and how we are designed to be a "herd" mammal rather than loners. Rent first. Enjoy!
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  • Review - Silent Running
    A truly classic cult sci-fi! So unusual - Joan Baez's music adds just the right wierd touch to this great movie - so fitting today, in its theme of ecology and save the planet - this is right up there with Blade Runner - the greatest sci-fi of all time. ...more info
  • If you get the message, this is a good film.
    I first saw "Silent Running" a little while after watching "Soylent Green". I think they are, both, very good movies.

    Before writing this review, I quickly went through the other reviews. Apparintly, if you get the message in the film, then this is a good film. If you don't get it, the film can be very boring. I am not an environmentalist, but have seen how folks develop the best farm land into housing tracts and shopping centers and commercial spaces.

    If you have the brains to see that our future could be nicer, if we take better care of how we treat our environment, then there is a fair chance that you will like this movie. However, there is entertainment and there is propaganda. Sorry, the reason I gave it four stars instead of five is that there is a lot of propaganda in this film.

    I enjoyed this film. I did get the message. But, see if you can check this one out of a library and watch it before deciding to purchase it. It may help this film to see "Soylent Green" first.

    Do NOT be in an analytical mood on the day you watch this film!...more info
  • Dust Off Your Bong For This One!
    Sit down under a tree, give it a big hug, fire up you bong and go to sleep. That's what I was waiting for Freeman to do all movie. It's a shame that special effects that were so ground breaking were waisted on this Sci-fi Hippie flick. I'm surprised that Freeman's suit wasn't tie-dyed. Keep your money say no to drugs! ...more info
  • Silent Running
    I could tell you what the movie is about but it would be my own interpretation. If you see it, it may mean something totally different to you. What I can say is that, the set was very well done. Part of it was done on an actual aircraft carrier. With a few modifications, it gives the movie a very realiztic sence of taking place on a ship. Exteriors of the space ships may look familiar because although they are new and built for this movie, B-movies have recycled them and used them.

    Personally, I think the movie doesn't go far enough. I think there was room for a greater plot without effecting the idea of the movie. If you're not into mjovies with political statements, you may not like this movie. But I think this movie has so many levels. Politics is only one interpretation. another is, "what would you do if you had to make a choice between society and what you believed.." The movie may seem long but it depends if it's your kind of movie.

    This movie should be in your library if you are the kind of person who likes to think for themselves. ...more info
  • Terrible
    This movie is unimaginably terrible. Overacting, underacting, a very thin plot with no development, poorly edited, and overall just plain sucky. The worst part is once you see the end of the movie you start questioning the whole reason for the movie to even have a reason for being made. Nothing is accomplished, nothing is resolved. This is just a bad, bad movie....more info
  • The first sci-fi eco-terrorism flick
    "Silent Running" depicts a future whereby Earth has become severely polluted and no longer able to sustain plant life. The planet sends into orbit several spaceships housing forests with numerous types of trees, plants, and animals. Tending the forest on one of these ships is Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern), a highly dedicated astronaut who prays that the ships can one day return and re-green Earth. His three crewmates who run the hip tease Lowell for his optimism; they don't care about the forest and are eager to return home. The crew is also aided by three drones (later nicknames Huey, Louie, and Dewey); they are the cutest bots this side of Wall-E and their scenes with Lowell are fantastic. One day, the crew receives orders to abandon the forests. Lowell is devastated and takes matters into his own hands - becoming the ultimate eco-terrorist.

    Despite its cult status as a sci-fi near-classic, I hadn't actually heard of "Silent Running" until I read about its influence on several other sci-fi hits, including "Mystery Science Theater 3000." Fortunately, "Silent Running" more than lives up to its reputation by being a quirky, thought-provoking film. The movie manages to convey important eco-messages that are more timely than ever, but it also is entertaining and avoids being preachy. The script by Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter) and Deric Washburn (The Border) is highly effective. Although Lowell's actions are extreme at times, the script humanizes him through his love of the forest and his amusing interactions with the drones.

    "Silent Running" is the directing debut of Douglass Trumball, who was instrumental in developing the special effects of "2001: A Space Odyssey" and numerous later sci-fi classics (Close Encounters, Blade Runner). Much of the special effects here rely on models; at times, the ship looks like a model, but most of it is still quite believable. The drones also are highly realistic through the use of persons with double amputations. The soundtrack features several Joan Baez songs which are a bit hippy-dippy, but they don't detract too much from the film's overall impact. Some people might find the movie a bit dated and hippie-ish, but it still has many fine qualities and is first-class sci-fi.
    ...more info
  • The worst movie period.
    The worst movie, very slow with a poor acting. Unless your a greenpeace nut don't bother.......

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  • on dvd
    if you love this movie then you will appreciate that is is now on DVD. sort of weird but then it always was....more info
  • Blast from the Past
    I remember seeing "Silent Running" when it first came out, when I was 10 or 11. Seeing it again, I realize almost every scene was etched in my memory. No other movie has combined such outstanding special effects with the melancholy of a solitary character.
    Obviously, this was a product of the eco-movement of the 60's and 70's, so it's about how by the year 2001 all the vegetation on Earth is gone, and what's left is exiled to space. I was set to experience it as the extreme product of environmentalist wackos.
    But the beauty and the eeriness of it holds up well. Just pretend it's about the following century, with the situation starting in 2101. That's easy to do, with the casual use of artificial gravity, the sophistication of the drones, and the implied terraforming that has made Earth all temperate with no use for forests.
    As an aside: No one comes away with Bruce Dern's Freeman as the favorite character. (He's made his mark playing anti-social types.) Everyone's favorite characters are the drones! They are endlessly fascinating. Try not to scream over the fate of poor lil' Drone #3. And get into endless debates about whether Drone #2 was in good enough shape to leave with Drone #1. ...more info
  • Great Sci Fi, still relevant today.
    I was surprised at the sophistication of the special effects. This will probably remain a sci-fi classic about one man's attempt to preserve reproductions in space of earth's forest environments....more info
  • Serious Message, Slow Movie
    Not bad Sci-Fi for the 1970's, "Silent Running" is a movie with an environmental message. Here are my observations:

    Pros:
    Good Sci-Fi Plot
    Good Message
    Good Special Effects

    Cons:
    Bad Acting
    Moves Very Slowly

    This could have been a very good movie if the acting was up to the message! Only recommended for Sci-Fi or Environmental fanatics.
    ...more info
  • The best sci-fi can get!
    Although this film is over 30 years old it is still relavent today. It does not beat you over the head with a message but gently suggests what could happen. This is done with class and believability. You will laugh and cry and be left pondering. This is one of my all time favorite sci-fi films. The music is top notch and the special effects are great in that they are so believable. You'll love it and the end will leave you speachless....more info
  • out-dated in filming
    The movie could be considered good in 80s but special effect cannot be compared with todays space movie. It is not a worthy DVD collection. ...more info
  • ECOLOGICL MADNESS
    Well over thirty years after SILENT RUNNING's debut, it's message about conservation rings truer than ever, although I still have trouble listening to Joan Baez. The special effects were great for the time. Bruce Dern turned in a very good performance ( he was always good as a villain, or wierdo ), but was upstaged by the robots. The movie is slow-paced, and on the depressing side, but it has interesting issues, and presents a lot of food for thought- so if you're looking for body counts this isn't the movie for you....more info
  • Silent Running
    I will skip the extravagant lingo. I am not an expert movie reviewer, but have spent a lifetime enjoying movies. I can tell you that Bruce Dern does an incredible job of acting in this movie.

    At 38 years old I remember my sister seeing it for the first time in the early 70's. She was moved to tears. The story that is told here is a real life example of what we have to face about ourselves. It pulls no punches about the level of cruelty and abuse that we all in some level inflict on this planet.

    It is easy to put this movie down if you have no brain cells because this movie will make you think. It is not for the people that think reality tv offers substance. Those individuals will be lost.

    To say that Bruce Dern is a sociopath I believe is completely incorrect. He is a compassionate individual seeing everything that this planet has to offer in the way of beauty being destroyed.

    That could push anyone that is left on this planet today with a heart over the edge in my opinion. I am not a nature freak, nor one of those green peace guys. But I have seen enough clearing of rain forests and killing of majestic creatures to understand that this movie is reality.

    This is a must see for everyone. The robots are wonderful. No they are not state of the art machines like those computer animated fake creations everyone seems to revere these days. But they are capable of instilling a reality in the viewer that will make the viewer feel compassion even for the inanimate robots.

    This movie took me along time to come back to only because it is so riveting intellectually and quite sad overall in its message. Be prepared to feel the plight that Bruce Dern feels. Decide for yourself how it makes you feel. I'm thankful I saw it. ...more info
  • silent cool movie
    very cool movie for it's day and it still holds up today! great space movie about things to come. even better if your a "green tree huggger"!...more info
  • Excellent Environmental Film
    Silent Running is an excellent example of the environmental science fiction film of the 1970's. While I remembered the film being run on television in the late 1970's, it was great seeing it on DVD again, and the DVD special features about the making of Silent Running were also good....more info
  • Classic Sci-fi
    This is one of the better science-fiction films out there. Long before modern-day Greeneer-than-green tree-huggers came along, Bruce Dern's character said it all with just a couple of robots. Definitely a keeper....more info
  • A Doug Trumbull classic
    Made by fx master Douglas Trumbull after 2001, this actually is a very moving plea for the cause of conservation. An earth so polluted that the last forests are put on great space ships like the Valley Forge to roam the outer edges of the solar system, awaiting the call to return home. Instead the reverse order is given. Bruce Dern kills his companions to prevent them from carrying out the order. Folk score by Joan Biaz ...more info
  • 1970s through and through...I LIKE the message, but this movie is now extremely dated
    "Silent Running" had its theatrical release in 1972 - about two years after the first Earth Day and seven years after the publication of Rachel Carson's environmental landmark book Silent Spring. So this movie was part of Hollywood's contribution to the blossoming of the American Environmental Movement.

    In the early 1970s "pollution" was among the top environemntal buzz words of the day. And that's what this movie is about. The premis is that the earth had become so polluted that plant life was no longer able to survive there (don't ask me where peoeple on earth got their food when the plants were gone), and the last surviving forests were launched into space, housed in transparent domes attached to space cargo vessels. Then the unthinkable happens - an order is sent to destroy the forests and return the vessels to their original cargo duties.

    The protagonist is faced with the immediate destruction and thereby extinction of the last of earth's forests...what do you do?

    I believe that the message of the movie is well worth 5 stars...that is, the need to be good stewards of the earth and of its resources.

    The movie and its theme music, however, now comes across as being sadly aged and dated, i.e., painfully 1970s.

    In 1972 the three drones were the hit of the show...people for some reason really like cute, little robots (e.g., R2-D2), and they remain a plus for the movie. The acting, however, does not rival even made for TV-movies, and the special effects now appear anything but special.

    The movie, based on the acting and technical merits, probably now rates only 2 stars. So, on average I'd have to award this show only about 3 stars. It's watchable, but you'll probably be happier renting rather than owning this DVD...that is, unless it holds some special sentimental value for you....more info
  • One of the best Bruce Dern movies ever made.
    Am a bit surprised at how many negative reviews there are for this movie. No, it isn't Star Wars and it's not a big action thriller. Rather it's a movie with a message--that we need to protect at all costs the things that are really important (the last existing forests in the world in this case). Other than another little known Bruce Dern movie (Smile), I think this is his best performance. Frankly I cringe when I see or hear Bruce Dern, so I think it says a lot for his ability as an actor to pull this off successfully. I really don't like him, but this is still a favorite movie of mine. You can't hate the character he plays in this movie because he is doing something terribly important (saving the last forests), but you don't like him either because he is fanatic and ends up killing to save the forests. I thought the music was great in this movie; very beautiful and haunting. Some didn't like it because of Joan Baez. I never liked her politics, but her voice is one of the most beautiful voices of that era. If I was stranded on a desert island with only one movie to watch, I sincerely hope that it would be this one. It is not that entertaining to younger folks raised on the computer-generated special effects found in the better science fiction movies. It will never measure up to something like the Matrix or any of the Star Wars movies, but it is still a hauntingly beautiful movie with special effects that are good enough to keep you interested. As most other reviewers have said the robots are charming. Don't listen to the bad reviews; decide for yourself. Even if you don't like the movie overall, you'll find something enjoyable here. The somewhat surprise ending is very sad, so if you want an upbeat movie, this is not the one for you, but it couldn't end any other way, really. This one gives me a tear in the eye and lump in the throat at the end every time I see it. A little campy and silly, but overall a real gem of a movie. Probably had more impact and was more impressive at the time it first came out, than now....more info
  • Was It All a Joke? Did It Go Over All Our Heads?
    Because Doug Trumbull -- a pioneering special-effects technoweenie -- was the guy who initiated "Silent Running" (to use some of the special effects techniques he developed for "2001," he said), I have sometimes toyed with the idea that the whole thing was an elephantine _parody_ of '70s environmentalism.

    The presence of Bochco and Cimino as writers has made me -- reluctantly -- discard this delicious notion, though.

    Cimino, so far as I can tell (read Steven Bach's "The Final Cut," about Cimino and the "Heaven's Gate" fiasco that was the final straw for United Artists) _has_ no sense of humor.

    And Bochco was the writer for a "New Twilight Zone" episode that was, if anything, even more redolent of New Age moonbattery than was "Silent Running."

    ...more info
  • If a tree falls on this movie and nobody is watching....
    I have only walked out on two movies in my lifetime -- this was one of them. Absurdly bad acting from Bruce Dern, whom I have generally liked in movies and TV. I like sci-fi, love movies, but couldn't suspend my disbelief for this....more info
  • 2.5 stars out of 4
    The Bottom Line:

    The special effects are still impressive and the movie definitely has moments of power and achievement, but Bruce Dern doesn't have the chops to carry the movie when the other humans are gone and the middle section lags as a result; it's worth a look if you like sci-fi but it's less than stellar....more info
  • somber but silly, this is still a must-see environmental sci-fi classic
    I think you really just need to go into this film knowing that it is kitchy and campy and sappy and silly (and at the same time quite profound and wonderful) -- so that none of that gets in the way of admiring the boldness of a filmmaker who would organize a (relatively) big budget sci fi film around such a powerful and blunt critique of our attitudes to the environment. If you just let yourself know in advance that part of what you are going to get is hippies in space, then you can set aside any reservations about that and just appreciate what is both a technically brilliant film, ahead of its time (before Star Wars!), and a surprisingly touching and somber film that faces up to the implications of an increasingly technologized world in which "nature" as we know it becomes at best a relic of the past and at worst an expendable resource.

    Besides, for sci fi robot lovers -- and I know you are out there -- the three robots in the film (Huey, Dewey and Luey) proved before Star Wars that even a non-humanoid robot could express feeling on screen and elicit sympathy and humor. ...more info
  • Great period piece sci-fi.
    I first saw this in the theater way back when. Sci-fi has come a long way, but this movie is not without it's charms. Back then it really did seem possible that we could destroy the planet with pollution. And, there wasn't all that much sci-fi going on back in those days during the big gap between 2001 in the late Sixties and Star Wars in the mid-to-late Seventies.

    Now, the reason I'm giving it five stars isn't so much that this is a great movie. It is good, but what really makes this DVD worth the relatively low price is all the extras and interviews. It's a trip back in time the viewer can learn from regardless of his/her politics when it comes to environmentalism.

    Actually, the main character's willingness to kill his fellow crew members to save the trees and critters was way more disturbing to me now than it was back then. ...more info