Posts Tagged ‘Logan’s Run’

The expurgated version of Logan’s Run (1976) showed up on TV again – thank God for the network censors, who knows what would happen were we to be heedlessly exposed to Jenny Agutter’s buttocks willy-nilly? Anyway, it’s become a bit of a perennial, over the last few months, for no real reason I can work out. Not that it’s actually a bad movie, for all that the Encyclopaedia of SF says that it determinedly operates on the most simplistic level imaginable (I paraphrase a bit, but the general tone is the same).

You must have heard the story – even if you haven’t, it should seem fairly familiar as much of it is extremely cliched. In the future, nearly everyone lives in computer-controlled domed cities, their every desire granted to them, with the only hitch being that they’re spectacularly euthanased at the age of thirty. Logan (Michael York), one of the city’s enforcers, is assigned to investigate a rebel group who appear to be smuggling people out of the city – but discovers the horrific truth behind what he’s been brought up to believe.

I forget how many times I’ve seen Logan’s Run, but it must have been six or seven even before today. I do recall having a discussion about it with an extremely attractive young woman off my multimedia course after it was shown as part of Moviedrome in 1997, and rather surprisingly given the circumstances I found what sounded like insightful and well-informed words coming out of my mouth. (All to no effect, but her boyfriend was a nice bloke.)

Basically, I said then that if Logan’s Run deserves a place in the history of SF cinema then it’s as the last big studio movie in the genre to be made prior to Star Wars, at which point the genre’s profile skyrocketed and things were never quite the same again. At the time my position was effectively that, brilliant though it was, Star Wars lobotomised the vast majority of mainstream SF movies. Prior to 1977, my argument ran, we had intelligent movies for grown-ups like Planet of the Apes and Soylent Green, and maybe even a few not featuring Charlton Heston. Post-77 it was wall-to-wall Flash Gordon and Battle Beyond The Stars – once again, not actually bad, but not especially demanding either.

Not the most coherent argument, I am prepared to concede, given the early 70s were quite capable of producing junk like Logan’s Run and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, and not added to by the fact that many of those thoughtful and mature early-70s SF movies are actually almost unwatchably slow and portentous. In fact, I think the breakthrough Star Wars represents was nothing to do with the script, but more one of aesthetics and sheer technical ability.

Logan’s Run looks terribly dated and primitive now. Everyone wanders around in primary-coloured tabards and tights, when they’re not actually wearing bacofoil. Forget about optical printing when it comes to the ray gun effects – it’s sparklers and flash-bombs all the way. There is a quite spectacularly crap robot about half-way through (just after the apparently-lost-forever footage of Agutter’s bum).

The cirque du soleil had fallen on hard times by the 23rd century.

But, as I said, the look of the movie sort of suits the plot. It is corny, it is cliched, and it is terribly simplistic – and the fact that the exact details of the myth that’s sold to Logan and his fellow citizens are never made clear is a serious problem. Despite all this, I do find this film has a strange, naive charm – it contains truths, albeit expressed in a trite and obvious way. There are good performances from York, Agutter, and Richard Jordan as the bad guy, while Peter Ustinov pops up in the ‘veteran star providing gravitas’ slot (cf. Ralph Richardson in Rollerball, Edward G Robinson in Soylent Green, Guinness and Cushing in Star Wars, etc.) and does no worse than many. I’m quite fond of Jerry Goldsmith’s score as well.

I’m not entirely sure that Logan’s Run merits much of a place in the history of SF cinema, and I’m practically certain there’s no good reason for it to show up on TV three or four times a year even in our modern world where so many channels are crying out to be filled up with something, anything. But every time I see it I think back to appearing knowledgable and intelligent in front of that extremely attractive young woman off my course, which is a good memory. So, well, they can keep on showing it, if they like. I won’t complain.

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