Thursday, January 13, 2011

Logan's Run (1976)

Title: Logan’s Run (1976)

Director: Michael Anderson

Cast: Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Peter Ustinov, Farrah Fawcett


Logan’s Run is one of these movies that presents us with the idea of a utopia. A seemingly perfect society in which nothing goes wrong, everyone is happy and continually elated. Everyone lives under these domes that have weather regulation and protect society from the harsh conditions of the world outside. In these domes, people live only for pleasure and physical beauty. There are arcades, spas, plastic surgery clinics, and gymnasiums for everyone to enjoy. People seem to live on a never ending party. As long as you play by the rules that is. And the rules say that when you turn 30, you have to sacrifice yourself in an event called ‘Carousel’. Essentially, in Carousel you willfully let yourself be disintegrated into oblivion. Supposedly, according to their beliefs, when you die in Carousel you are instantly reborn or ‘renewed’ as they call it, in a new body. You come back as a newborn and start living your life once again. In this way, society avoids over population and food shortage.

But what happens when you don’t want to sacrifice yourself when you turn 30? Well, then you become a runner. You run from the government appointed Sandmen. These Sandmen will hunt you down and make sure you are terminated for good. But not all runners are caught by the Sandmen. There’s an underground movement of rebels that are constantly searching for a place called ‘Sanctuary’, a place where people over 30 can live without the fear of being hunted and killed. A place where people can grow old and die in peace.

This is a film that plays with many themes at the same time, some are more prevalent than others. Logan 5 and Jessica 6 (the films main characters) are two people who suddenly see themselves becoming rebels. They go against the ideas that the grand majority think. In the society represented on this film, questioning the status quo of things is something that is not encouraged. In one scene, a fellow Sandman tells Logan “You question too much for a Sandman” which lets us know questioning is not something that should be considered, you should just take things for granted and do as you are told. Logan isn’t like that, he is constantly questioning the how and the why of things. In one moment he asks a fellow Sandman “have you ever seen anyone renewed?” So right off the bat we know that Logan doesn’t take things for granted, he needs to know why things are the way they are.

Logan 5 and Jessica 6

Unfortunately, Logan is chosen by the system to go and find the rebels sanctuary. They fast forward his life clock and suddenly he finds himself becoming a runner himself. This is a common thing in films that deal with an oppressive system. They are told from the point of view of someone who used to work for the system, but suddenly finds him or herself becoming an enemy of the state. This is exactly what happens to Logan himself. He used to be a Sandman but now he is hunted by them, so if he doesn’t want to be zapped out of existence, he has to run; which he does. Jessica follows. Together they will find out if there is something beyond the walls of the domed city. So at heart, this film is really a film about rebels trying to see past the lies that they have been taught. And their search for the ultimate truth.

Farrah Fawcett makes an appearance as a plastic surgeon's assitant

Once they finally make it out of the domed city and into the real world, they suddenly find it to be a harsh post apocalyptic wasteland. We see abandoned buildings that have been overtaken by nature. Man has become so disconnected from nature that Logan and Jessica find the out doors horrible. Yet, little by little they adjust. And on their trek through the wasteland they stumble upon something they had never seen before: an old man. In the dome, people didn’t want to properly deal with getting old and dying. In that society they preferred to die young and avoid old age completely. This is one of the films main themes, the acceptance of old age and death as a natural part of life. There is a scene where all the young people in the dome encounter the old man and see him as something strange and alien to them, they come to embrace and accept him. The ultimate message is, old people have their charm. They have their good humor, their interesting stories, and their wisdom. Old people need not be ignored by the young. They should be embraced and accepted as an important part of our society.

The Old Man

Logan’s Run is also about true love vs. physical/sensual pleasure and the difference between the two. In the dome people engage freely in sex. You hit a couple of buttons in a controller and some hot chick or guy teleports him or herself into your room to have sex with you. They also have a place called ‘Love Shop’ where people engage in sexual orgies. In the domed city, sex is something cold and calculated. It’s simply about the pleasure, never about the love, the caring or the warmth. Once Logan and Jessica escape the dome and explore the real world outside of it, they come to depend on each other for survival and this brings them closer together. They soon discover the pleasures of true love. Lets face it, theres nothing better then sex and true love all rolled up into one and Logan and Jessica discover that in their adventures on the outside world.

So as you can see, this film covers all sorts of themes and issues that make it interesting. My only problem with the film is that once they encounter the old man, the movie screeches to a halt. I don’t mind the fact that the film focuses on Logan and Jessica’s encounter with him, because its an essential part of the story, but I think they dwell a bit too long in it, in these scenes the dialog is slow and boring. But that all quickly changes when Logan and Jessica decide to go back to the dome to tell everyone that they can be free and live in the real world without life clocks and without having to sacrifice themselves when they turn 30.

The films effects were inventive for their time, but by today’s standards they are extremely dated. For example, the miniatures are obviously miniatures. Matte paintings are obvious as well. One thing is still solid though: the art direction in some sequences was awesome. Loved the look of some of the sets. So retro. Sadly, in other scenes it is obvious that the film was shot inside of a mall in Dallas Texas. They used this old trick of making real locations look ‘futuristic’ by adding a few props, the result didn’t always work, so the film is uneven in that sense. A remake was in development with Bryan Singer attached to direct it, but when Synger's Superman Returns bombed, I guess Singer decided to go with other projects that would assure his stay in Hollywood. As of right now, the film is in the proverbial development hell. Lets hope that Bryan Singers new X-man movie is a hit so that the Logan’s Run remake gets renewed someday. I’m curious to see how this one would look updated, in my opinion, its one of those movies that could actually benefit from getting remade.

Rating: 3 ½ out of 5
Some rebels are way hotter then others

Logan's RunLogan's RunLogan's RunLogan's Run [Blu-ray]Logan's Run [VHS]


Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein said...

Another Sci-Fi novel adapted to a film [i.e.: my comments in your Running Man post], Logan’s Run will be remembered mostly for Farrah Fawcett’s minimal role. As an older sci-fi fan, I saw this in the theater way back in 1976! It’s hard to believe that this came out just one year prior to Star Wars. This was a big budget, highly publicized film and every sci-fi fan worth his Spock ears saw this at the theater. I saw it with quite a few savvy sci-fi fans and I can honestly say that during that opening shot of the domed city, there were quite a few chuckles and even a few guffaws at the obviousness of the models used in those shots. Unfortunately for the filmmakers, these were not the only cause for hilarity amongst the audience.

You are much more understanding of the film’s visual and storytelling flaws than I was then and still am today. Yes, Logan’s Run does touch on some deep universal themes: Love vs. Sex, Immortality vs. Mortality, Utopia vs. Dystopia. Unfortunately, it is done in such a broad manner that it is very difficult to see past the preaching stilted-dialog, the wooden acting (with the possible exception of the lovely Jenny Agutter) the unrealistic miniatures and the garish (even for their times) costumes and sets.

For years after seeing this film, if my good buddy and fellow sci-fi fan wanted a good laugh, all we had to do was start chanting in unison… “Renew! Renew”! I’m glad that Brian Singer had to abandon his purposed remake of Logan’s Run, because I don’t honestly see how this could be done as anything but a musical comedy! I’m not joking!

Franco Macabro said...

I noticed that it was publicized heavily, the original previews for it and the making of featurette that the dvd includes make the movie sound like it was going to be the end all be all of science fiction films.

But I totally agree with you about the films unintentional humor. The scene where Logan 5 goes to the "Great Hall" to tell all the other people in the dome that the dont have to renew, that life clocks are a lie, that scene had me howling because here was Logan, the films hero, screaming and looking like a mad man!

He looked kind of fanatical, like a raving lunatic. It made me laugh.

As for the films acting, in my opinion, the strongest and most solid performance came from Richard Jordan, the guy who played Logans Sandman partner. I loved how he switched from best buds with Logan to deadly enemy.

Jenny Agutter, what a beauty. Those clothes she had to wear for the film were so revealing! Im surprised they didnt cut back on that. Speaking of which, Im surprised the film had nudity in it in one scene where Jessica and Logan are undressing. Wasnt this film rated PG? Samething happened with Jane Fonda in Barbarella where there is also a bit of nudity yet the film was still rated PG?

As for the remake, if they tone down the silliness, make it less campy, made a script that made a little more sense, and improved the visual effects, I think a remake could improve on the original.

Its kind of hard to think that this film was "best script" in the Nebula Awards of 1976.

And that it actually won that years Academy Award for best Visual Effects. It was also nominated for best art direction, but didnt win it.

Shaun Anderson [The Celluloid Highway] said...

One of the better science-fiction films of the 1970's.

joe said...

That Carousel doesn't sound like alot of fun

Franco Macabro said...

@Shaun: It has its moments, how's about that character Box? I kept trying to think what he represented, but I ultimately came upon the conclusion that he was simply meant to be one final stumbling block before they finally make it out into the real world.

@Joe: It sure isnt? Your supposed to step in front of it and let it suck you into oblivion. Basically, you stand there and then you start floating up in the air until you hit this giant stone that desintegrates you. You supposed to be born again instantly, but the rebels think its all a lot of bullshit.

I Like Horror Movies said...

Another one that I have missed unfortunately, it's always so hard to tell that I am a Horror purist, isnt it? =)

I might have to make a double feature night out of LOGANS RUN and THE RUNNING MAN!

Franco Macabro said...

Wouldnt make a bad double feauture!

The Popcorn Unicorn said...

Have you read the book this film is based on, Space?

Franco Macabro said...

Actually no, I havent. If you have, is it any good? Does it have any similarities with the film, or is the film extremely different from the book?

Neil Fulwood said...

I saw this at a highly impressionable age. I've carried a serious torch for Jenny Agutter ever since.

Franco Macabro said...

Cant blame ya bro, she's extremely beautiful in Logan's Run, one of the films best assets for sure!

FilmMattic said...

Glad you reminded me of this film. I remember watching it during my high school English class. We were in the midst of learning about "Utopian" societies, etc.

Your analysis of the film is pretty spot on. It obviously has myriad technical flaws, but the importance of this film is realized through the broader themes.

A remake could be interesting. Much like Tron, the visual/special effect space of the film can definitely benefit from a technologically advanced overhaul. If Bryan Singer jumps back on board, I'd be mildly excited about a contemporary take on this 70's sci-fi classic.

Franco Macabro said...

Agree Matty, its the broader themes that attract me to this one, though sometimes it gets a bit incomprehensible, that whole sequens with the robot was kind of weird, everytime I think I have that movie figured out, that shinny robot thing always confuses me.

Im still trying to figure out the symbolisms behind that character, maybe there is no symbolism behind it and its just one final obstacle they have to over come before reaching the outside world.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if it was Melanie Griffith at the end of the movie? The young woman that approached the old man and smiled. Her name is not listed in the credits and nothing is mentioned in her filmography.

Franco Macabro said...

No idea anonymous...Ill look into it.

Beth said...

I thought same thing!!

JenniferAlex said...

I also want to know if that was Melanie Griffith at the end of the movie...I'm pretty sure it is, but as anonymous said it's not listed in her filmography. My friend and I went to see a screening on the big screen and I loved's in every if my favorite movies...I'm dork since it doesn't bother me with all those little details. But...back to the question, is it Melanie Griffith? It has been bothering me for years! Hahaha and seeing it recently has had me wondering again. Thanks!

Unknown said...

It's not Melanie Griffith. It's a Playboy Playmate named Ashley Cox, and she's in the credits as "Timid Girl." She did look a lot like Melanie Griffith in the movie, though, which is what led me here!
Some links:

Franco Macabro said...

Thanks for clearing that up Elizabeth Kustet!


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