“You know when I was a kid, I put a note into a bottle and it had my name and address on it. And then I threw the bottle into the ocean. And I never knew if anybody ever found it.” SPOILER ALERT: Bruce Dern portrays a maniacal botanist (Freeman Lowell) on a space station, “Valley Forge,” who resorts to murder in order to preserve the Earth’s last forests, which are enclosed in these huge biodome-type structures. After he kills one of his fellow astronauts and jettisons the other two, Dern is all alone except for his robots Huey, Louie and Dewey (named after Donald Duck’s nephews). Silent Running consists of basically Dern talking to himself during about two-thirds of the flick, but somehow it all works. The special effects are kind of cheap even though this was the directorial debut of Douglas Trumbull, who was also responsible for the special effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Blade Runner. Cliff Potts and Ron Rifkin round out the cast. Beware: Joan Baez sings the movie’s theme song, as well as the more catchy “Rejoice in the Sun.”
Useless Trivia: Silent Running was released as a double feature with The Andromeda Strain, another science-fiction film that featured special effects by Trumbull.