In the year 2008, all of Earth's natural plant and animal life has been destroyed by nuclear forces. A group of space stations orbiting Saturn function as outer-space greenhouses, waiting for a time when the planet may again be able to support life. When the project is terminated and
orders given for the greenhouses to be destroyed, Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern) kills his three colleagues and takes off in one of the stations, to preserve the potential for life in some other place or time. Lowell is aided in his efforts by three cute robots, known as Huey, Louie and Dewey.
This was a directorial debut for Trumbull, who had previously worked with Stanley Kubrick on the special effects for 2001: A SPACE ODDYSSEY. Like that film, SILENT RUNNING concentrates heavily on special effects, resulting in some stunning imagery. Dern gives an engaging, against-type performance,
though the script is stretched out very thin to support a feature-length film. The unusual score is by Peter Schickele, best known for his classical music parodies written under the pseudonym P.D.Q. Bach. Despite the presence of some very dated Joan Baez songs on the soundtrack, SILENT RUNNING has
built up a deserved cult status over the years. The writing team of Washburn, Bochco, and Cimino would go on to make the Vietnam drama THE DEER HUNTER.
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