Cover Graphic from Silent Running
Prayer Focus

Silent Running

Reviewed by: Brett Willis

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults

This film made one reviewer’s list of “Ten Best of the ’70s.” The deep-space special effects are very good for 1971, the small robots are cute and the story is an emotional grabber; however, it’s heavy-handed environmentalist propaganda.

Bruce Dern stars as a crew member on one of a fleet of spaceships carrying pods (geodesic domes with artificial gravity) which contain forests being kept alive until the Earth is fit to be refoliated (after nuclear war and/or pollution). He’s the only one of his crew who actually appreciates and respects the forests and who eats natural rather than synthetic food. Then the ships receive an order to forget about refoliation, jettison and nuke the forest pods, and return to regular cargo duty. Guess what—Dern’s character is probably going to disobey the order and reluctantly fight for his forests.

There may have been a rating review; my copy of this film is marked G, but PG (the rating on some Web sites) is more correct. Besides some mild profanity, a number of killings, and scenes of pain and blood, there’s the sadness of the overall story. Not appropriate for viewers too young to realize when they’re being manipulated.

I’m as angry as anyone else at the way some people are polluting the Earth and exterminating many plants and animals. But the new extreme of not altering the Earth at all is just as unscriptural and unreasonable as the other extreme; and it’s false to portray the issue as a war between “pro-polluter” jerks and those who virtually worship nature, with no middle ground. This film comes very close to doing just that. God’s first command to man (Genesis 1:28) includes multiplying, filling the Earth and subduing it (not destroying it), and ruling over all other creatures. Many environmental and population-control extremists hate and oppose every part of this command; their views are not an option for Bible-believers. I’ve read literature that called for the extermination of humanity in order to save the planet. But no matter how many people have damaged the Earth, our duty is still to use the Earth and to do so wisely.

Year of Release—1971

Viewer Comments
This movie I saw in the theatres when I was very young. Saw it with my dad. I think it was really the first Sci-Fi movie that I had ever seen. I rented it again last year and boy do the special effects look very outdated and fake. But it still is a good story, the story is very moving. I remember bawling my eyes out and my dad having to take me out into the lobby when one of the robots “died”.

As far as the environmental question I think that it is just as important as many other issues for Christians to get involved in. God has told us to take care of the Earth and we, humanity as a whole, have not done a good job at that. I do believe that we, as a human race, will be held accountable for this. One of the reasons that I tend to have the belief that we are in the last days of time—I know that every generation has believed this—is because of the rate of our technology.

Yes, all the inventions have made our lives more convenient but at the tremendous cost of our environment. And it is getting worse. At some point there will be a breaking point and I wonder sometimes if some of the judgments in Revelations are actually human induced (such as the water turning to blood [pollution?] or a third of the trees being burned [our appetite for profit destroying our forests?]). I don’t know …food for thought maybe.
Don Lambirth, age 31
I disagree with the high rating a previous person gave this move (4 stars in movie making quality). The main problem with such a high rating is the movie’s absurd subplot in which the main character is trying to find the illness that is killing the plants. I think having all the plants nearly die was a futile attempt to make this movie less boring but instead of making it more exciting it made the movie stupid. The botany expert who is able minded enough to do major reprogramming of the computers never gave the plants any sunlight which killed many of them. That is so absurd that it is often the only thing most people who have seen this movie remember about it afterward. People considering watching this movie should also be forwarned that the closest thing this movie has to a hero is a cold blooded murderer and that the movie ends with the main character committing suicide. Although I support efforts to protect the environment, I don’t agree with murder and this dark tale does more to put people into depression than to advance environmentalism.
Michael Rogers, age 24