How Accurately Did “Soylent Green” Predict Life in 2022?
Spoiler alert: Soylent Green is people. You already know that if you've ever watched the 1973 dystopian thriller Soylent Green, starring Charlton Heston. As famous as that last line is, the film would have seemed squarely in the realm of science fiction to audiences in the 1970s. An incredulous New York Times reviewer said that Soylent Green "occasionally (is) frightening but it is rarely convincingly real."
What makes it relevant today is that the film is set in 2022, and the reality it forecasts isn't entirely unfamiliar. Among the terrors that plague mankind in the movie are overpopulation and climate change. They are both much worse than we know (so far), but exaggeration is not exactly rare in cinema. The movie also predicted assisted dying (now legal in several countries), as well as our love of video games (the video game industry is now bigger than movies and music combined.)
A global shortage of fresh food is at the core of the plot, and the film's title, Soylent Green, refers to a wafer-like food product that is supposedly derived from ocean plankton, but is actually made of dead bodies. And while we have yet to unwittingly consume our companions, there is a real meal-replacement product made by Soylent Nutrition – thankfully made from algae, not humans. Or so we're told ...
- Network (1976) accurately portrayed a future TV world where reality was ratings gold.
- The original Star Wars (1977) was the first film to foresee holograms. In fact, they can now be projected from droids. Thanks, R2D2.
- James Bond's car in Die Another Day (2002) used a cloaking mechanism to become invisible. We're not there yet, but reports are that the military is working on it.
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