Tuesday, August 14, 2012

LOGAN'S RUN (Michael Anderson, 1976, USA)

Logan 5 is a Sandman, the bringer of eternal sleep who dares perchance to dream otherwise, to wonder what dreams may come. Director Michael Anderson’s allegorical drama is built upon the William F. Nolan novel but becomes a fable of the disco era, dated with obtuse visual references and cues to the addled drug and sex addicted culture of the mid-seventies where life expectancy was barely thirty. The detailed set and costume designs are meant to be futuristic but seem straight out of Studio 54. But fashion always recycles itself and possibly a distant generation will embrace the vapid excess of this self-destructive subculture. 

Logan 5 is assigned to find a mystic place called Sanctuary and destroy it. He becomes a slave to the tyrannical computer that removes the final years from his life-clock in order to carry out the mission. He journeys with Jessica 6 and together they escape the domed city, hunted by his best friend whose zealous loyalty to the State subsumes his freethinking potential. Anderson makes the mistake of opening the film with a tracking shot over fertile forests to the interior of the city, already revealing to the viewer that a habitable outside world exists: a fact that remains unthought-of to the populace. It would have created a palpable tension if this remained a mystery to the audience as we rushed from mortal danger into the great unknown. 

Logan 5 soon abandons his mission and wants to live, to experience life because he finally understands that renewal by Carousel is a lie: that his whole belief system is an illusion and the dome a charnel house for those who turn thirty. The life of comfort and depravity is grand until it’s expiration date…but mankind’s survival instinct has not been totally quelled. Peter Ustinov’s grand soliloquy of T. S. Elliot musings is endearing and amusing, an aging lonely man whose only company is a democracy of cats. Matte paintings of Washington DC engulfed by nature, such as the stony visage of Lincoln peering forever into the void or the Washington Monument like an exclamation point to the end of an era are riveting. But most of the SPFX are a bit cheesy and dated, Box the maniacal android looks to be made of his namesake. Jerry Goldsmith’s score is full of lush strings and bombast, punctuated by strange electronic computer sounds to achieve some futuristic tonal vibrancy. 

Final Grade: (C)