Still Watching the Skies: Episode 71 “Silent Running”
Nat, Cody, and Robert take a trip to the rings of Saturn and the ecologically minded 1970s with Douglas Trumbull’s SILENT RUNNING. It’s a trip filled with good intentions, loneliness, and both hope and regret.
Following the success of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, Universal Pictures gave Douglas Trumbull the reins for his first film. Utilizing conceived sequences around Saturn from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and utilizing an ecological theme, SILENT RUNNING is in the same technical spirit as the precursor, but has an altogether different purpose.
SILENT RUNNING concerns the last remnants of plant life, preserved on geodesic domes in space. Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern) dreams of one day re-vegetating the never seen Earth. But, when orders come in to destroy the plant life and return to Earth, he makes a fateful decision.
There’s nothing particularly subtle about SILENT RUNNING. But, perhaps that’s no matter. It’s message is straightforward and simple, but it’s earnest and technically well crafted. Perhaps because of that earnestness, it’s well known even if it isn’t watched particularly well watched.
We have a lot to say about SILENT RUNNING. Including from a surprise guest. Heavy handed themes, wonky science, Bruce Dern’s performance, bad botany skills, Joan Baez songs, cute robots, and a haunting final shot are among the topics that are brought up.
You’re not going to construct an ark in space to listen to the episode. You can give us a play below or Download the episode. Also, feel free to let us know what you think by commenting below or Email Us at [email protected] as we appreciate feedback.
SILENT RUNNING Discussion: 0:00 to 50:48
Next Film and Outro: 50:48 to End
Next month, we visit Lovecraft country with Richard Stanley’s COLOR OUT OF SPACE featuring Nicolas Cage. We may even have a guest in the form of the elusive Matt Gamble. We hope you’ll join us.