Everyone is going green these days, but Bruce Dern takes that concept to the extreme in , a 1972 outer space thriller. In the not-so-distant future, scientists place the last remaining plant specimens on space freighters orbiting Saturn. Earth’s government plans to recall the ships at some point, with the expressed goal of reforest the planet.
Dern plays Freeman Lowell, the chief botanist on the freighter known as “.” A devoted ecologist, Lowell adopts one of the plant domes as his own, tending it with love and care. Tired of life in outer space, his sneering colleagues don’t understand Lowell’s reverence toward his “garden.”
When a message arrives from Earth, it tells the crew to destroy all the domes and return home. After watching the gleeful crew members blow up several domes, Lowell decides to take action. When they show up in his garden with a box of nuclear charges, Freeman Lowell makes a life-or-death decision between the plants and the people.
Although this film first arrived in theaters in 1972, Silent Running contains a powerful message that still has meaning today. Director Douglas Trumbull looks ahead to a time when mankind’s carelessness has destroyed the Earth’s flora and fauna. Even in the 21st Century, it is hard to imagine what kind of neglect would cause this kind of destruction.
Known for edgy characters, Bruce Dern turns in a complex performance as Freeman Lowell. Treating one dome like his private sanctuary, Lowell only eats fresh produce, rejecting the processed food favored by the rest of the crew. At times, he even gets down on his hands and knees to tend to his garden, almost like it was his backyard back home.
Silent Running also features three little droids who are way cooler than R2D2 and C3PO in Star Wars. Freeman Lowell names them “Huey, Dewey and Louie,” the same names as Donald Duck‘s nephews. With cool droids, great special effects and a powerful environmental message, remains a classic film and one that everyone should see.