🎥 Silent Running – 1972
The Story …
In the future, all plant life on Earth has become extinct due to an unexplained cause.
As many specimens as possible have been preserved in a series of enormous greenhouse-like geodesic domes attached to large cargo spaceships, forming part of a fleet of eight “American Airlines Space Freighters”, stationed outside the orbit of Saturn.
Freeman Lowell, one of four crewmen, is the resident botanist and ecologist on one of these ships, the Valley Forge. He carefully maintains a variety of plants for their eventual return to Earth and the reforestation of the planet.
He spends most of his time in the domes, cultivating the crops and attending to the animal life …
The crew of each ship receives orders to jettison and destroy their domes and return the freighters to commercial service. After four of the six Valley Forge domes are jettisoned and destroyed with nuclear charges, Lowell rebels and opts to save his ship’s plants and animals.
He kills Wolf, one of his crewmates who arrives to plant explosives in his favorite dome, and his right leg is seriously injured in the process. He then jettisons and triggers the destruction of the other remaining dome to trap and kill the remaining two crewmen.
Enlisting the aid of the ship’s three service robots, Lowell stages a fake premature explosion as a ruse and sends the Valley Forge careening toward Saturn in an attempt to hijack the ship and flee with the last forest dome.
He then reprograms the drones to perform surgery on his leg and sets the Valley Forge on a risky course through Saturn’s rings. Later, as the ship endures the rough passage, Drone 3 is lost, but the ship and its remaining dome emerge relatively undamaged on the other side of the rings. Lowell gives the surviving drones the names Dewey (Drone 1) and Huey (Drone 2), while the lost Drone 3 is named Louie (a nod to Disney characters Huey, Dewey, and Louie).
Lowell, Huey, and Dewey set out into deep space to maintain the forest. Lowell reprograms Huey and Dewey to plant trees and play poker. He also has them bury Andy Wolf in the bio-dome. Lowell begins speaking to them constantly, as if they are children.
Huey is damaged when Lowell accidentally collides with him while driving a buggy recklessly, and Dewey sentimentally refuses to leave Huey’s side during the repairs. As time passes, Lowell is horrified when he discovers that his bio-dome is dying, but is unable to come up with a solution to the problem.
When the Berkshire—another space freighter waiting to see if the Valley Forge has survived the trip around Saturn—eventually reestablishes contact, he knows that his crimes will soon be discovered.
It is then that he realizes a lack of light has restricted plant growth, and he races to install lamps to correct this situation. In an effort to save the last forest before the Berkshire arrives, Lowell jettisons the bio-dome to safety. He then detonates nuclear charges, destroying the Valley Forge, the damaged Huey, and himself in the process. The final scene is of the now well-lit forest greenhouse drifting into deep space, with Dewey tenderly caring for it, holding Lowell’s battered old watering can.
- Directed by Douglas Trumbull
- Written by Deric Washburn, Michael Cimino and Steven Bochco
- Produced by Michael Gruskoff, Marty Hornstein and Douglas Trumbull
- Cinematography : Charles F. Wheeler
- Edited by : Aaron Stell
- Music by : Peter Schickele
- Production Company : Trumbull/Gruskoff Productions
- Distributed by Universal Pictures
- Release Date : March 10, 1972
- Bruce Dern as Freeman Lowell
- Cliff Potts as Andy Wolf
- Ron Rifkin as Marty Barker
- Jesse Vint as John Keenan
- Mark Persons as Drone 1 (Dewey)
- Cheryl Sparks and Steven Brown as Drone 2 (Huey)
- Larry Whisenhunt as Drone 3 (Louie)
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