Friday, March 29, 2024

Logan's Run (1976)

Directed by Michael Anderson

Written by David Zelag Goodman (based on the novel by William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson)

Starring: Michael York; Richard Jordan; Jenny Agutter; Roscoe Lee Brown; Farrah Fawcett-Majors; Peter Ustinov

Logan's Run took the adage "Never Trust Anyone Under 30" and built a fictional scenario around it. Set in the 23rd Century after a series of catastrophes forced the survivors of humanity to live in geodesic domes controlled by computer overlords as humans to live in a hedonistic Utopia. But there's a catch - your life is terminated at age 30. 

The dome dwellers led to believe they will undergo a rebirth to a higher plain of existence on their
"Last Day." But not everyone is so sure. Some attempt to escape and the "Sandmen" are there to stop them. Michael York and Richard Jordan play two Sandmen, true believers in the system, and they pursue all "runners" with due diligence. The memorable opening sequence depicts the "Rite of Carrousel" as crowds gather for the spectacle of death. 

The production design resembles a mall, a consumerist paradise where everything one could want is readily available. By night, everyone can choose their preferred drug or sexual partner after a day of unending leisure. For fashion, everyone wears comfortable neon-colored pajamas! Thematically, Logan's Run shares much in common with Brave New World and The Time Machine, the latter due to futuristic society built on passivity and ignorance, and the former for vision of a civilization based on pleasure.

When Logan discovers a community of runners who believe there's a Sanctuary where people can live out the natural course of their lives, he deicides to investigate. Along with Jessica (Agutter), Logan sets out to escape the dome for the outside world. They discover a robot called "Box" who hunts food, including freezing escaped runners, shades of Soylent Green? Eventually they discover the ruins of Washington D.C. where they encounter a dim-witted old man played by Peter Ustinov. From that point on the film loses momentum and culminates with York delivering a comically dramatic speech about liberation. 

America was a youth driven society in 1976 with Boomers entering early adulthood. As the counterculture was fraying and a more self-centered ethos was taking hold, the film's skepticism about youthful wisdom foreshadowed the shift to Reagan and conservatism. I suppose the older segment of the population will always resent the young challenging values, just as the young will always feel constrained by elders asserting their values on them. The reactionary strain to Logan's Run is evident through its vision of an unenlightened youth incapable of independent thinking but is slightly tempered by the "kids are all right" ending.

A TV series followed that aired on CBS for one season. There's been countless attempts to reboot the franchise with many directors attached, but it's been in long-term stasis. I can see the concept working for a TV series, but I'd be curious to see a fresh vision of the story.